Lady Vol sprinter excels again

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Junior Courtney Champion zipped to one of the best times in the world for the second day in a row, and Tennessee's distance medley relay unit raced to victory in impressive fashion, as the eighth-ranked Lady Vols closed out their highly-productive stay at the Tyson Invitational Saturday afternoon at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

In the prelims of the 200-meter dash, Champion registered the second-fastest readout in UT annals and the number-four mark in the world this season.

Her 23.10 NCAA automatic qualifying mark won heat four and stands just behind her own school record of 22.98, which she charted as a freshman in finishing third at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships. Champion, who has now punched her ticket to the 2007 NCAA Indoor meet in the 60 and 200 meters, did not run in the final due to a coach's decision.

Also in the 200m, freshman Lynne Layne had a career-best readout of 23.85 to meet the NCAA provisional qualifying standard for the first time in her collegiate career. She also earned a lane in the final and wound up seventh in 24.07 while running her biggest race as a Lady Vol. Layne also appeared in the consolation final of the 60m dash, covering the distance in 7.48 to grab third place.

The Big Orange distance medley relay put together the third-best effort in school history and the fourth-fastest time this season in the NCAA ranks. The combination of freshman Rose-Anne Galligan, junior LaTonya Loche, senior Leslie Treherne and sophomore Sarah Bowman covered the distance in a provisional output of 11:11.32 to easily defeat runner-up Duke (11:15.20).

They toppled UT's previous best this season of 11:14.01, which the same quartet recorded at the Penn State National Invitational on Jan. 26.

Sophomore Alicia Essex came through with a second-place effort in the college division of the pole vault. Her clearance of 12 feet, 6 3/4 inches on her opening height was the second-best barrier she had navigated in her career behind a 12-8 mark at Penn State two weekends ago. She missed on all three tries at 12-11.75.

In the first event of the day for Tennessee, UT's Sunshine State freshmen, Jackie Areson and Kelly Parrish, each logged personal bests in the college division of the 3000 meters. Areson's effort of 9:51.45 was good for fifth place, while Parrish took seventh in 9:53.27. Those clockings represented improvements of roughly 10 and 20 seconds, respectively.

Elsewhere, sophomore Celriece Law settled for 14th in the championship division of the triple jump at 39-5 1/4. Additionally, Phoebe Wright, a walk-on from Signal Mountain, Tenn., continued to display consistent improvement in the 800 meters. She lowered her career topper from 2:15.22 to 2:13.76 today to wind up 14th in the college division of the 800 meters.

The Lady Vols will train for the next two weeks and then head to Lexington, Ky., for the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 23-25 at the University of Kentucky 's Nutter Fieldhouse.

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