Track & field notches 21 entries in 12 events

BATON ROUGE, La. - Freshman Nia Ali helped the 17th-ranked Tennessee women's track & field team continue to build its squad for the NCAA Mideast Regional later this season, as she charted a pair of new qualifying marks Saturday at the Alumni Gold meet at LSU.

The Lady Vols now have 21 entries in 12 different events for the regional meet, which will take place May 25-26 in Columbia, Mo.

Ali, from Philadelphia, Pa., charted a career-best time of 13.32 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles to place fourth and took sixth in the high jump with a personal-record leap of 5'8.75 to qualify for the Mideast meet.

Ali's hurdles time ranks her number three on UT's all-time performers list, and her high jump mark is the best by a Lady Vol since Michelle Elfervig jumped 5'9.25 in 1998.

Junior Shanna Dickenson collected Tennessee's only victory of the day and also added a runner-up performance. After breaking UT records in the hammer throw the past two meets, Dickenson was unable to do that or improve on her regional mark on Saturday. Still her 182'11 effort was good for a victory. Her 154'3 fling in the discus, meanwhile, earned her second place in that event.

Classmate Amara McKell was fourth in the discus at 150'3 and had a PR rip of 121'4 in the javelin.

Others who hit the regional standard on Saturday but did not improve their best times this season included freshman Lynne Layne, who was third in the 100m dash at 11.65; sophomore Pavi'Elle "Tiki" James, who was sixth in the 100m hurdles at 13.78; and junior LaTonya Loche, who was sixth in the 400m at 53.32.

Elsewhere, other noteworthy finishers came from junior Cleo Tyson, who was ninth in the 100m dash in 11.83; Layne, who was 11th in both the 200m dash (24.10) and long jump (19'6); and Loche, who was 13th in the 200m in 24.17.

In Nashville on Saturday, Tennessee closed out the Vanderbilt Invitational with personal bests in the pole vault and 800m run and four middle distance athletes getting some speed work in via the 400m dash.

Sophomore Rolanda Bell had a PR of 2:10.55 to take second in the 800 meters, and sophomore Alicia Essex got her first clearance of the outdoor campaign to finish fourth in the pole vault at 12 feet even. In the 400 meters, senior Leslie Treherne led a quartet of UT middle distance runners by taking 10th in 55.79.

"It was good to get a couple more regional qualifiers and a few more personal bests today," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "Nia Ali had an outstanding meet.

"As a whole, both groups this weekend showed we are coming along at the right time as we approach the Penn Relays and Southeastern Conference Championships. Every time out, I like to accomplish some regional qualifiers and personals bests, and that's what we are continuing to do."

Tennessee will next see action from Thursday to Saturday, as the Lady Vols travel to the 113th Penn Relays in Philadelphia.

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