Lady Vol sprinter zips to 60-m win

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - University of Tennessee junior Courtney Champion unleashed two career-best races at the Tyson Invitational, including the No. 7 time in the world this season, en route to victory in the college women's division of the 60-meter dash at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

After rocketing to a career-best 7.22-second effort in the prelims, which stretched her lead atop the NCAA ranks, Champion dropped it another notch in the final to 7.21 to claim the title and also record the second-fastest time by an American woman this season.

LSU's Kelly Ann Baptiste settled for second behind the orange-clad speedster in an NCAA auto time of 7.25. Champion's UT classmate, Cleo Tyson, made the final but did not run (coach's decision).

Champion, who came into the meet leading the collegiate ranks with a 7.26 readout, nearly added the school record to her list of accomplishments. Her 7.21 and 7.22 outputs this evening toppled her previous 2005 personal best of 7.25 and moved her behind Tyson (7.20) for the second-fastest mark in UT annals. She moved past former UT All-Americans and record-holders Kelli White (7.24) and Toyin Olupona (7.23) in the process.

"It's great to see Courtney's continued consistency this season," Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Those were two more of the best times in the nation, and also in the world, she ran tonight. She continues to show how much she has matured during her two-plus years at Tennessee."

In the championship division of the mile run, sophomore Sarah Bowman continued her dramatic improvement in 2007, lowering her career best another 2 1/2 seconds to a near automatic NCAA time of four minutes, 40.72 seconds to claim victory. In edging Florida State's Barbara Parker (4:40.97), Bowman claimed her second victory in as many weekends, but her first in the mile, after winning the 800 meters last weekend at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Neb.

Bowman, who had finished second in her two previous mile outings in 2007, has the fastest time in the Southeastern Conference this season and improved her national ranking to fifth after just missing the NCAA auto mark of 4:40.00 tonight.

She climbed to third on UT's all-time performers list in that event, surpassing Big Orange greats such as Jasmin Jones with the sixth fastest time in program history. Freshman teammate Rose-Anne Galligan came up with a personal record of her own, grabbing ninth in a provisional readout of 4:46.32 to improve to fifth fastest in the SEC this season.

"Sarah seems to be coming into her own," Clark said. "She ran a good race last week, as well, in the 800m. More important to me than her time tonight is the fact that she now is coming back to beat people who beat her earlier in the season."

Senior Katie Flaute and sophomore Katie Van Horn provided evidence that Clark also has two of the school's best-ever 5000-meter runners under his tutelage. Running behind U.S. 1500m champion Treniere Clement of Knoxville, who won in 16:16.75, Flaute unleashed a 22 1/2-second PR in the 5K to collect second-place honors and finish as the fastest NCAA-eligible athlete in the college division at 16:24.41.

Van Horn, meanwhile, lowered her top mark in that event to 16:32.79 to grab third.

Flaute and Van Horn now rank seventh and ninth nationally and stand as the No. 2 and 4 5K runners in the league. On UT's all-time performers list, Flaute moved to number three all-time, surpassing recent All-American Sharon Dickie, while Van Horn climbed to number five, just behind Dickie. The only Lady Vols faster at this distance indoors were multi-time All-Americans Patty Wiegand and Kathy Bryant.

Sophomore Celriece Law bounced back strong after clipping a hurdle at Penn State a few weeks ago, advancing through the 60-meter hurdles prelims with a reading of 8.42 seconds and taking fourth in the final in a career-best 8.32. That NCAA provisional mark ranks her fourth in the SEC and 12th nationally. She continues to stand at third behind former UT Olympian Benita Fitzgerald and freshman teammate Nia Ali on UT's all-time performers list.

"At Penn State , Celriece had a mishap with the hurdles, and she has gotten over that by running a personal best tonight," Clark said. "It shows a lot of growth that she came back and ran the way she did. Katie Flaute also had a huge PR that puts her on the NCAA list along with Katie Van Horn, who knocked some time off her career best as well."

Elsewhere, junior Shanna Dickenson uncorked her third-best throw ever to take fourth in the weight throw at 63 feet, 11 1/2 inches, freshman Lynne Layne claimed eighth in the long jump at 18-9 1/4 and freshman Kelly Parrish came through with a PR of 4:58.63 to lead five Lady Vols in the college division of the mile run.

In the 400 meters, Tennessee would have added its first NCAA provisional mark in that event this season, but LaTonya Loche was disqualified for a lane violation. Loche's mark of 53.91 would have easily met the standard and placed her fifth in the competition.

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