Lady Vols win four events at meet

LINCOLN, Neb. - The 11th-ranked University of Tennessee women rolled to four event victories on Saturday, including wins in the 800-meter run, 60-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash and shot put, as the Lady Vols wrapped up a strong showing in the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

In addition to the event triumphs, UT athletes recorded one NCAA automatic qualifying time, 12 NCAA provisional marks, 13 personal bests and four runner-up finishes in the two-day competition that featured five other ranked teams among the field.

Sophomore Sarah Bowman continued to show dramatic improvement, uncorking a career-best reading of two minutes, 6.59 seconds Saturday to win the 800 meters. That performance pushed her to second place on the NCAA qualifying list this season and first in the Southeastern Conference. Her previous best in 2007 had been a 2:08.18 readout at the Rod McCravy Memorial on Jan. 20.

Bowman's offering moved her from ninth to sixth on UT's all-time performers list, in the process elevating her past senior Leslie Treherne, who today recorded a season-topping 2:07.14 count that rates fourth nationally and second in the SEC. Freshman Rose-Anne Galligan, who charted a PR of 2:09.45, was the best of four other Lady Vols competing in the 800 today.

In the 60-meter hurdles, sophomore Pavi'Elle "Tiki" James cruised to first-place honors and joined previously-qualified UT teammates Nia Ali and Celriece Law on the NCAA provisional list. Her 8.41 career-best outburst gave James her first meet victory as a Lady Vol and moved her to number five, behind Ali (second) and Law (third), on the school's all-time performers list. That trio also ranks three-five-six in the SEC this season.

For the second day in a row, junior Shanna Dickenson unleashed a personal-record performance. After taking second in the weight throw on Friday night with a PR and an NCAA provisional improvement, she came back Saturday to win the shot put competition with a career-best throw of 50 feet, 2 1/2 inches.

The toss easily met the NCAA provisional standard, marking the first time in her career she had done so in that event indoors.

Dickenson, who made the final in the shot with a then-PR heave of 48-8 1/4 on her third throw of the prelims, blasted the ball 1 1/2 feet farther on her fourth attempt of the competition. Her new apex moved her from 12th to fifth on UT's all-time indoor performers list in that event, and she rose to fourth on this season's Southeastern Conference performers chart.

Juniors Courtney Champion and Cleo Tyson continued to perform very well in the sprints for Team Orange. Champion picked up her second meet victory in the 200 meters this season, steaming home in a 2007-best-tying 23.56. Tyson wasn't far behind, snagging second place at 23.71.

In the 60 meters, Champion and Tyson posted the fastest two times in the first two rounds and each remained undefeated on the campaign in the short sprint when they were held out of the final by the coaching staff. Freshman Lynne Layne was a beneficiary of their absence in the "money race," registering a career-best second-place finish in 7.53.

Champion posted a time of 7.28 in the first round and tied her 2007 topper and nation-leading time with an automatic 7.26 in the semifinals to move to 8-0 this season. Tyson, meanwhile, improved to 7-0 this year when she won her heat in the first two rounds with splits of 7.33 and 7.32, respectively.

Bowman came back later in the day to produce her second career best of the meet. Her 9:53.43 handiwork in the 3000 meters was good for first among collegians and second overall. In the mile run, meanwhile, senior long-distance runner Katie Flaute got some speed work in, cranking out a career-best of 4:55.62 to place sixth and lead five Lady Vols.

Elsewhere, junior LaTonya Loche took third in the 400 meters in a season-best 54.53, sophomore Brittany Daniels came in eighth in the triple jump at 39-3, sophomore Alicia Essex tied for eighth in the pole vault at 12-3 1/2 and sophomore Kimarra McDonald was 12th in the 600-yard run in 1:28.22.

UT also assembled a couple of patchwork 4x400m relay units, with the top quartet, consisting of McDonald, freshman Phoebe Wright, Galligan and Bowman covering the distance in 3:56.46.

"Overall, I really liked the combination of events in which we had wins, qualifying marks and personal bests," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Shanna had a big PR in the shot today, one in the weight last night and two NCAA marks - that's a good meet. Tiki won the hurdles today with a provisional, Sarah had a PR and one of the best times in the country in the 800m, and Courtney matched her nation-leading automatic time in the prelims. I could go on about others.

"We are showing great balance and consistency, and I am very happy with that. It's been a conglomeration of good things for us. Hopefully, we will continue that as we go to the Tyson Invitational."

UT will, indeed, travel to the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., next Friday and Saturday. The meet is held at the Randal Tyson Track Center , home of the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 9-10.

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