Rowing competition begins Friday

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Lane assignments have been made for the 2007 NCAA Rowing Championships opening heats, which begin on Friday morning at 8 a.m. EDT on Melton Hill Lake. The Lady Vols kick off their weekend at 8:15 a.m. in Heat Two of the Division I First Eights.

Tennessee will line up in lane six against defending NCAA First Eights champion Princeton, Notre Dame, Yale, Stanford and Dartmouth. The top three take the quick route to Saturday's semifinals, while the next three will row again at 1 p.m. in the repechage for the last three semi spots. The first heat pits UCLA, UCF, Virginia, Brown and Harvard against each other, while the final heat features Minnesota , California, Southern California, Ohio State and Washington. In those final two heats, the top three advance straight to Saturday's semifinal rounds, while the last two would fall into the repechage.

The Second Eights heats start at 9:45 a.m., with Heat One putting Washington, California, Virginia, Harvard and Southern California against each other for spots in the semifinals. The Orange and White race in Heat Two from lane two, as UT races Notre Dame, Brown, Minnesota, Ohio State and Yale.

In the Division I Fours races, the Big Orange drew lane one in the first heat, where they will face the crews from Minnesota, Virginia, Washington, Harvard and Soutern California. Heat Two has California, Brown, Yale, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Princeton lining up against each other.

In both the Division I Second Eight and Fours events, the winner of each heat moves into Sunday's finals, while the other teams will compete in Saturday's second-chance races.

The 2007 NCAA Rowing Championships begin on Friday, May 25 with the Division I First Eights heats at 8 a.m.

A three-day pass to the event costs $25 for general admission or $10 for children or students, while daily tickets are priced at $10 a person or $5 for students and children.

LADY VOL TRACK: Fifteen members of the Tennessee women's track & field team, 10 of them either freshmen or sophomores, will travel to Columbia, Mo., hoping to earn national championship berths when they compete Friday and Saturday at the NCAA Mideast Regional at the University of Missouri's Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

Head Coach J.J. Clark, whose Lady Volunteers qualified a program-best 16 athletes for 29 scoring opportunities in 15 different events, has streamlined that list to 15 entries with 21 chances in 12 events. That condensed itinerary should help maximize the ability of his charges to earn top-five individual finishes and top-three relay outcomes and, thus, automatic trips to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., June 6-9.

"I believe this is one of the biggest groups we've ever taken to the regional meet, and it's definitely the youngest," Clark said. "Our objective is to go to Columbia, compete at our best and earn a top-five finish individually and top-three finish in relays, which would allow us to go to the national meet. The more people we have at the national meet, the more chances we have to break into the top 10."

UT will be making its first-ever track & field appearance in the "Show Me State," marking the 31st state the program has visited in the past 34 years of competition. Slated to be at Mizzou this weekend are senior Leslie Treherne (800m/4x400mR, Chesapeake, Va.); juniors Courtney Champion (100m/200m/4x100mR/4x400mR, Lawrenceville, Ga.), Shanna Dickenson (hammer/discus, Cincinnati, Ohio), LaTonya Loche (400m/4x100mR/4x400mR, Bastrop, La.) and Cleo Tyson (100m/200m/4x100mR/4x400mR, Huntsville, Texas); sophomores Rolanda Bell (1500m, Laurelton, N.Y.), Sarah Bowman (1500m, Warrenton, Va.), Tiki James (100mH, Miami, Fla.) and Celriece Law (100mH/LJ, Denver, Colo.); and freshmen Nia Ali (100mH, Philadelphia, Pa.), Jackie Areson (3000mSC, Delray Beach, Fla.), Rose-Anne Galligan (1500m, County Kildare, Ireland), Lynne Layne (100m/200m/4x100mR, New Rochelle, N.Y.), Kelly Parrish (3000mSC, Ocala, Fla.) and Phoebe Wright (1500m, Signal Mountain, Tenn.).

Sophomore Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) earned a trip to the meet in the 5000 meters, but an injury will prevent her from competing. Additionally, due to scheduling conflicts and in order to put athletes in their best events, Clark has scratched Ali from the high jump, Bowman and Galligan from the 800m, Law from the triple jump, Layne from the long jump, Loche from the 200m and Wright from the 1500m. Ali, though, is an alternate for the 4x100m relay, while Layne and Wright are listed as alternates for the 4x4.

"It's exciting to take such a group, and they have shown me they can compete when it is time to compete," Clark said. "We've had some injuries during the outdoor season, and the ones who have competed at the Penn Relays and SECs and other meets have shown me some good things. I'm looking for them to show me more of that this weekend."

UT's first action will be on Friday at 3:15 p.m. Central Time, as the 4x100m relay competes in the first of seven preliminary events on day one. The other races include the 1500m, 100m hurdles, 100m dash, 400m dash, 800m run and 200m dash. Law will take part in the long jump at 4:45 p.m. CT in the Big Orange's only final of Friday.

Bowman is the top ranked Lady Vol hitting the track on Friday. She stands at third-fastest in the 1500m field at 4:18.10, while teammate Galligan is fifth at 4:20.11. Ali is fifth in the 100m hurdles at 13.25, while Layne ranks sixth in the 100m (11.40) and seventh in the 200m (23.26). UT's 4x1 combo enters with the third-best clocking at 43.98.

On Saturday, UT already has finals in the hammer and discus throws, 3000m steeplechase and 4x400m relay. The Lady Vols hope to add seven more out of Friday's prelims. Action begins at 11 a.m. CT with the hammer.

Dickenson enters the fray rated third in the discus at 167-2 and fourth in the hammer throw at 198-3, while Areson checks in at seventh in the steeplechase at 10:32.53. The Lady Vol 4x4 comes into the meet at fifth with a qualifying time of 3:36.86.

This season marks the fifth year the regional format has been used to determine qualifiers for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. In addition to the individual pursuits, team scoring is kept. After finishing seventh in Columbus, Ohio, the first year in 2002, Tennessee has posted top-three showings in each of the past three Mideast Regional meets, including a victory in Bloomington, Ind., in 2005. UT was third a year ago in Knoxville and second in Baton Rouge, La., in 2004. LSU, this year's favorite, has won the women's competition every year except for when the Big Orange triumphed in 2005.

LADY VOL SOFTBALL: For the second consecutive season, senior pitcher Monica Abbott has been selected among the three remaining finalists for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award according to the Amateur Softball Association (ASA), the national governing body of softball in the United States. The final three players will travel to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the announcement of the winner at the 2007 NCAA Women's College World Series.

The USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award, in its sixth year, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by NCAA Division I collegiate softball players across the country. A replica of the award will be placed on permanent display in the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, along with photos of the winner. An additional replica of the award will be presented to the player's academic institution at a sporting event in the fall.

The NCAA Division I career leader in wins, shutouts, games played and strikeouts as well as a four-time All-SEC selection and three-time SEC Pitcher of the Year, Abbott is currently registering a K-per-seven inning ratio of 14.6 to remain well above her career average of 11.7. The 6'3 lefthander currently guides the SEC in ERA (0.60), strikeouts (629), solo shutouts (24), starts (43), complete games (37) and opposing batting average (.102). Abbott registered the fourth-longest shutout streak of all-time at 96.1 frames from Feb. 10-March 11, 2007. She is currently listed among the NCAA Division I career top two in starts (197, first), complete games (170, second) and innings pitched (1,391.2, second).

Abbott is the only pitcher in history to strike out 500 or more during all four years of her collegiate career and 600 or more twice. At 44-3 in 2007 has gone over 40 triumphs during each campaign of her time spent in the Orange & White. With 629 K's, she is just 34 strikeouts from equaling the NCAA Division I single-season K mark currently held by former Southern Miss hurler Courtney Blades of 663 K's set in 2000.

No. 1-ranked and fifth-seed Tennessee will open the NCAA Knoxville Super Regionals on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET at Tyson Park against the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine with a berth in the annual Women's College World Series on the line. The best-of-three series will conclude on Saturday with games scheduled for 4 p.m. & (if necessary) 6:30 p.m. ET. All games will be disseminated live on ESPNU with a radio broadcast via The Sports Animal (99.1, 99.3 FM, 990 AM, by Yahoo Sports).

The three finalists for the 2007 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, listed in alphabetical order, are: Monica Abbott, Tennessee, senior, pitcher, Salinas, Calif.; Kaitlin Cochran, Arizona State, sophomore, outfielder, Yorba Linda, Calif; and Samantha Ricketts, Oklahoma, sophomore, first base, San Jose, Calif.

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