Trotter's No. 1 in 800 meters

Dee Dee Trotter entered last weekend's Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships ranked 14th among all Lady Vols who had ever run the 400 meters. After rocketing to a 51.65 performance to capture the league title in that event Sunday night at Tom Black Track in Knoxville, the sensational sophomore now finds herself sitting atop the 2003 American list and rating eighth in the world.

According to a list published by USA Track & Field on Tuesday, Trotter's victorious mark places her first in the United States in the 400 meters, just ahead of heralded University of Texas standout Sanya Richards (51.73). Trotter's name also appears above such notables as Demetria Washington, Monique Henderson, Allyson Felix, Miki Barber and Monique Hennagan.

Trotter, who also clocked a 52.10 en route to posting the best time in the prelims on Saturday evening, rates fourth on the U.S. list with that showing. The Decatur, Ga., native, whose previous best in the outdoor 400 was a 53.66 readout at the 2002 Sea Ray Relays, ascended from 14th on the UT list to school record holder in just one meet. Her mark supplanted the 51.71 reading of Cathy Rattray, which was posted at the 1982 NCAA Championships in Provo, Utah.

On the International Association of Athletics Federations Web (IAAF) site, which as of Wednesday morning did not reflect activity from the latter part of the weekend, Trotter's time would settle into the number eight slot, just 1/100th of a second better than 2000 Olympic gold medalist Cathy Freeman of Australia. Fellow Aussie Jana Pittman currently holds the year's fastest 400 on the planet by a woman, a 50.43 pace on March 22 in Sydney.

Trotter's participation in the SEC 400 did not come without some convincing from first-year UT Head Coach J.J. Clark and sprint coach Caryl Smith. The pair strongly suggested that Trotter shift her focus from the 100 and 200 meters to the longer sprint. It took awhile, but she finally heeded their advice.

''We had a heart to heart and talked about her running the 400 meters, because we felt she could be very good in it,'' Clark said. ''She believed in her abilities and trusted in her coaches, especially Caryl Smith, who did an excellent job in getting Dee Dee ready for the event.

''Dee Dee trained very diligently this year, and she really showed a lot of character and a great deal of focus and determination at the SEC Championships. If she keeps on working hard, I believe she will continue to do great things in the years to come.''


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