J.J. Clark named Coach of Year

For the second time in three seasons, University of Tennessee Head Women's Track & Field Coach J.J. Clark has been named South Region Women's Indoor Coach of the Year, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Clark, who is in his fifth season at helm of the Lady Volunteer program, was chosen by his peers after guiding sixth-ranked UT to an unexpected victory at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships two weekend ago.

Projected to finish third or perhaps fourth in the league meet, the Big Orange women scored 120 points to defeat higher ranked Georgia (103) and LSU (101) and the rest of the SEC field in Lexington, Ky., on Feb. 23-25. His troops won three events and finished second in four others en route to the school's third such triumph. Prior to Clark's arrival, the Orange and White's last league win in track & field had come in 1984.

The South Region indoor award is the second for Clark, who also picked up the honor in 2005 and went on to claim national coach of the year recognition that season after leading Tennessee to its first-ever NCAA Indoor National Championship. His most recent citation brings his total of coach of the year awards to 15 in his career, including 12 during his first 4 1/2 seasons in Knoxville.

Clark's tally of personal accomplishments as UT's skipper includes one national coach of the year award, three regional kudos and one conference honor in track & field and four regional citations and three conference nods in cross country. During that time, he has directed his troops to one NCAA Indoor title, two conference indoor championships and a regional outdoor victory in track & field, and four regional crowns and three SEC trophies in cross country.

Team Orange will attempt to add to that collection this weekend, as the Lady Vols travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships. The meet will be held March 9-10 at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the University of Arkansas campus. Clark and his staff will be taking a group of 10 athletes to the competition.

UPCOMING MEET: Two weeks after surprising winning the SEC Indoor title, the now fourth-ranked University of Tennessee women head to Fayetteville, where they hope to return to the upper echelon of the track & field world at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Head coach J.J. Clark's Lady Vols will have 10 athletes competing in a total of seven different events on Friday and Saturday.

For the Lady Vols to return to the pinnacle, where they rose in 2005 after winning the school's first-ever NCAA Indoor title in the sport, UT will have to overtake the nation's consensus top three this season in Arizona State, Michigan and LSU, as well as the rest of the field. After rising from seventh to fourth nationally in Wednesday's new Trackwire 25, UT is seeking its third top-five indoor finish in the last four seasons, a run that began in 2004 with a fourth-place outcome in Clark's second year on the job.

Tennessee will have two entries in the 60m dash, 200m dash and 60m hurdles, as well as single competitors in the 800m and mile run, and quartets in the distance medley and 4x400m relays. The meet runs from 9 a.m. to 9:35 p.m. Central Time on Friday and from 11 a.m. until 8:20 p.m. CT on Saturday.

The Lady Vols' highest ranked athlete in the meet is junior Courtney Champion, who enters with the No. 2 time in the 60m dash (7.15) and the fourth-best readout in the 200m dash (23.10). The school record-holder in the short sprint, Champion is slated to run in the prelims at 6:15 p.m. CT on Friday, while her 200m prelim is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. CT. Champion, an eight-time All-American, was the 2007 SEC runner-up in the 60m and took third in the 200m. She currently ranks fourth in the world this season in the shorter race and fifth in the longer one.

Sophomore Sarah Bowman, who was a double winner in the mile and 3000m at the SEC meet, will focus on the shorter distance in Fayetteville. Her career-best mile readout of 4:40.72, which she ran on Feb. 9 at the Tyson Invitational on the Tyson Center track, stands as the number-four time in the field.

Bowman also anchors UT's distance medley relay tandem, whose 11:11.32 effort at the Tyson Invite stands as the NCAA meet's number four clocking as well. Handling the first three legs on that foursome are freshman Rose-Anne Galligan, junior LaTonya Loche and senior Leslie Treherne. Freshman Jackie Areson is an alternate. Bowman's mile prelim is at 6:45 p.m. CT on Friday, while the DMR final is scheduled to be run later in the evening at 9:15 CT.

Sophomore Celriece Law headlines two Lady Vols in the 60m hurdles. She and freshman Nia Ali will compete in the preliminary round at 5:05 p.m. CT on Friday. Law's school-record time of 8.15, which she logged in finishing second at the SEC Championships, stands as the No. 6 readout in the field. Ali's 8.18, which matched a 24-year-old UT record before Law broke it, ranks 12th among the NCAA qualifiers.

Junior Cleo Tyson and freshman Lynne Layne join Champion in the 60m and 200m, respectively. Tyson, an 11-time All-American and a sixth-place finisher in the 60m at the recent conference meet, brings the nation's eighth-fastest 60m readout to town at 7.28. She is making her third appearance at this meet. Layne, meanwhile, arrives for her NCAA debut with the 16th-best 200m clocking at 23.54. That mark placed her sixth at the SEC Championships this season.

Treherne is UT's final individual event contestant, but she is the first to see action at 4:30 p.m. CT on Friday. Her career-best 2:06.52 performance in the SEC finals was good for second-place honors at that meet and a spot in the NCAA Indoor Championships. She was eighth at NCAA Outdoors last season in the 800m, and the three-time All-American is making her third indoor national appearance.

Loche, Champion, Layne and Treherne also run on Tennessee 's 4x400m relay unit, which grabbed the 12th and final spot by running 3:36.69 last Saturday at the Virginia Tech Last Chance Invitational. That group will close out the meet for UT on Saturday at 8:05 p.m. CT. Champion and Loche helped the Lady Vols finish sixth in the 4x4 at this meet a year ago. Loche is a seven-time All-American, with five of those honors coming via baton events.

To keep pace with the Lady Vols at the NCAA meet this weekend, go to www.utladyvols.com and click on the live results icon.

ONLINE TRACK & SWIMMING: The 2007 NCAA Division I Women's Indoor Track & Field and NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships will be covered online this weekend on ESPN360. Fans can log on to ESPN360.com to watch the events.

The women's track & field championships will be held March 9-10 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville. Coverage will begin on Friday, March 9, and will run from 2:30-9 p.m. and Saturday, March 10, from 4:30-9 p.m.

With several Olympic swimmers set to provide audio commentary to the scoreboard feed, the women's swimming & diving championships will be held in Minneapolis, Minn. The women's championship will be March 8-10 with coverage from ESPN360 set to run on Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, from 7-10 p.m. Matt Kredich's program hits the pool rated 13th nationally.

ESPN2 will televise the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 13 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships will be carried by ESPN2 on March 14 at 12:30 p.m. ET.

SOFTBALL RANKINGS: No. 1 Tennessee (22-0) begins its fourth straight week on top of the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll and second consecutive as the unanimous choice for the top position in NCAA Division I.

The Lady Vols are now a perfect 15-0 as the nation's No. 1 softball team. The Big Orange added to their undefeated record by sweeping a Tuesday doubleheader from Appalachian State in the home opener at Tennessee Field at Tyson Park.

By throwing a one-hit shutout with 15 K's in UT's 1-0 victory in the first contest against ASU, senior pitcher Monica Abbott tied the NCAA Division career shutout record of 94 held by former California pitcher Michele Granger.

The 6'3 lefthander also picked up the win in the second match-up against the Mountaineers with 2.1 scoreless innings in relief of starter Megan Rhodes to improve to 16-0 on the season and stretch her scoreless inning streak to an incredible 82.2 frames, seventh-best in NCAA Division I history.

Defending national champion Arizona (14-3) switched places with its archrival Arizona State (21-2) by jumping from third to second after last week's No. 2 Sun Devils suffered an 8-7 loss last weekend to UC-Santa Barbara at the Wilson/DeMarini Tournament in Tempe, Ariz. Undefeated Alabama (21-0) and Texas A&M (19-2) round out the Division I top 5 by tying for the No. 4 position.

Other SEC teams in the poll include LSU (21-3) at 10th, Tennessee's upcoming weekend foe Florida (18-8) at 19th and Georgia (15-8) at 21st.

Tennessee will open SEC play this weekend with a visit to Gainesville, Fla., over March 10-11, to battle the No. 19 Florida Gators in a three-game set.

Live stats will be available through utladyvols.com, and periodic updates will be provided to the Lady Vol Hotline at 865-974-8700 (box #6). The Saturday doubleheader will be broadcast live on The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM) with the "Voice of the Lady Vols" Mickey Dearstone at 1 and 3 p.m. ET.

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