Katie Van Horn takes 5000-m race

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Katie Van Horn's nation-leading time in the 5000 meters and the distance medley relay's No. 2 clocking in the land were the high points for the No. 14 University of Tennessee women's track & field team on a solid first day of the Penn State National Invitational at Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track.

Tennessee pulled off a sweep of both the invitational and open divisions of the 5000 meters.

In the invitational race, Van Horn, a sophomore from Glendora, N.J., circled the 200-meter oval 25 times in a nation-leading readout of 16 minutes, 34.09 seconds to earn her first victory as a Lady Vol. Her mark, the sixth-fastest ever run by a UT woman, easily met the NCAA provisional of 16:42.00 and moved her to fourth on the school's all-time performers list in that event behind former UT All-Americans Patty Wiegand, Kathy Bryant and Sharon Dickie.

Senior Katie Flaute, who led much of the race before giving way to her teammate, registered a career-best clocking of 16:56.88 to garner third-place acclaim with the SEC's number-two time in 2007. Freshman Kelly Parrish finished 10th in 17:34.06.

Senior Felicia Guliford began the evening and meet for Tennessee on a positive note, as she claimed victory in the open division of the 5K. With the Penn State track's hydraulic system malfunctioning at that point and leaving one end banked and the other flat, the Lady Vol captain covered the distance in 17:41.88 to pick up her first victory since sweeping the 2005 Southeastern Conference Indoor 5000m and 3000m titles.

UT classmate Carly Matthews, who led several laps during the middle part of the race, wound up eighth in 17:56.92.

The Lady Vol distance medley relay unit was unable to extend its victory string at this meet to four in a row, but the UT tandem did snag an NCAA provisional qualifier in 11:14.01 en route to a second-place finish behind Villanova. That mark, the third-fastest in Lady Vol history, is second in the nation behind Villanova's victorious effort of 11:12.95.

Carrying the baton for the team from Rocky Top were freshman Rose-Anne Galligan, junior LaTonya Loche, senior Leslie Treherne and sophomore Sarah Bowman.

"That's a solid time," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said of the DMR's effort. "We're every bit as good as the team that ran 11:03 (here in 2004), we just have to execute our race. There were some kids not executing perfectly, but that's a solid time and we'll see what happens down the road."

In the weight throw, the SEC's current number-three-ranked performer, junior Shanna Dickenson delivered Tennessee a third-place finish with a career-best heave and an NCAA provisional of 62 feet, 10 1/2 inches. It was an improvement over her previous personal record of 62-7 1/4, set at last year's Tennessee Indoor Classic, and bested her 62-5 toss earlier this season at the Kentucky Invitational.

Tennessee's performance in the speed events was impressive in two rounds of races on Friday evening. Junior Courtney Champion remained undefeated in five 60-meter dash races in 2007, winning heat two of the semifinals in 7.40 to advance to Saturday's final.

Classmate Cleo Tyson also claimed her heat and moved along, taking heat one in a season-best 7.28 clip that was just off the auto mark of 7.27 and ranks her number three nationally behind Champion's 7.26 from the Kentucky Invitational. Freshman Lynne Layne finished fifth in heat one in a time of 7.68 and did not earn a spot in the final.

In the 60-meter hurdles, things did not go quite as well in the semifinal round. Only freshman Nia Ali made it through to the final, doing so with an 8.25 effort that was second-fastest in heat two. Pavi'Elle "Tiki" James was fifth in heat one in 8.59, while sophomore Celriece Law clipped the first hurdle and never recovered in stumbling to a 9.48 readout in heat one.

"We are starting to hit on all cylinders," Clark said in summing up the first day. "Shanna Dickenson had the best performance of her career, the DMR and Katie Van Horn turned in a couple of the fastest times in the country. It was also good to see Cleo Tyson back up to her national-caliber level.

"It was just a good night and great start for us at this meet. We definitely added an orange tint to this meet today, with the Lady Vols representing themselves very well. We'll try to come back (Saturday) and continue to qualify for nationals and win as many events as we can."

In the opening round, the Lady Vol hurdlers and the sprinters each won three of five heats. Ali (8.26), Law (8.37) and James (8.52) won and advanced in the 60mH, while Tyson (7.28), Champion (7.35) and Layne (7.66) moved along in the sprint race by winning their heats. Law, James and Tyson all did so with season bests, with the latter's mark ranking as the third-best 60m dash time in the NCAA ranks this season.

Team Orange went three-five-seven in the long jump competition. Layne uncorked a season-best leap of 19-1 1/4 to chart UT's best performance. She was followed by Ali at 18-9 3/4 and Law at 18-8 1/2.

The Big Orange women are entered in 15 different events on Saturday. Freshman Phoebe Wright gets the action started at 10:40 a.m. in the 500-meter dash, while the final women's event of the meet, the 4x400m relay, is slated to get underway at 5:40 p.m.

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