Courtney Champion earns SEC honor

Courtney Champion's season-opening performance over the weekend at the Kentucky Invitational has not gone unnoticed. The SEC recognized the University of Tennessee sprinter's stellar effort in Lexington by naming her the SEC Runner of the Week.

Champion also picked up Lady Vol Athlete of the Week accolades to boot.

Champion, from Lawrenceville, Ga., uncorked a time of 7.26 seconds on Saturday to win the 60-meter dash and post an automatic qualifying mark for the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. That time is the fastest in the collegiate ranks thus far in 2007 and ranked as the best season-opening output by a Lady Vol in program history.

The eight-time All-American came back later in the day on Saturday to record an NCAA provisional readout of 23.61 and win the 200-meter dash as well. That mark also stands atop the NCAA ranks for Champion, who was the 2005 SEC Indoor Freshman Runner of the Year and helped Tennessee sweep both the NCAA and SEC team titles that season.

Champion is the school record-holder indoors in the 200 meters at 22.98 and stands fourth on the UT all-time performers list in the 60 meters at 7.25. Classmate Cleo Tyson (7.20) and former standouts Toyin Olupona (7.23) and Kelli White (7.24) are the only Lady Vols who have run faster in the short sprint.

SCHEDULE CHANGE: Women 's Track & Field Coach J.J. Clark has announced a schedule change. Instead of taking his Lady Vols to the Notre Dame Indoor Opener on Friday, Clark said the Big Orange will return to Lexington, Ky., this weekend to compete in the Rod McCravy Memorial on Friday and Saturday.

Among the women's teams expected to be on hand are Southeastern Conference foes Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt as well as non-league participants Chattanooga, Georgia State, Eastern Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Miami (Ohio) and Virginia Tech.

TOP TEN: The team debuted at No. 8 in the inaugural Trackwire 25 poll of the 2007 indoor season, released today. The Lady Vols are among six Southeastern Conference schools in this week's rankings.

The Lady Vols, who return 16 letterwinners and welcome a talented freshman class, tallied 23 points to break into the top 10 after finishing 18th at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships a year ago. UT is joined in the poll by SEC foes LSU (3rd), South Carolina (4th), Auburn (14th), Arkansas (17th) and Georgia (19th).

Stanford enters the year in the catbird's seat with 55 points, followed by Arizona State with 43. Texas (5th), Miami (6th), Michigan (7th) and Texas A&M and Kansas State (21) round out the top 10.

The Trackwire 25 projects a hypothetical score for the NCAA Championship meet, factoring in injury reports and other variables supported by information gathered from coaches and NCAA-qualifying competitions across the country. This projection is generated by scoring the Dandy Dozen, a power ranking of the top 12 athletes and relay squads in each NCAA event.

Areas where Tennessee is ranked in the women's Dandy Dozen include the 60 meters (Cleo Tyson, 3rd/Courtney Champion, 4th), the 200 meters (Champion, 6th), the mile run (Rose-Anne Galligan, 7th), the 60-meter hurdles (Nia Ali, 8th), the 4x400m relay (3rd), the distance medley relay (8th) and the triple jump (Brittany Daniels, 7th).

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