Shanna Dickenson sets career mark

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The University of Tennessee women's track & field team got on the scoreboard on day three of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, led by junior Shanna Dickenson's third-place finish in the discus throw Friday afternoon at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.

A product of Mother of Mercy High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dickenson entered the meet as the 18th-ranked qualifier in the discus. With two career-best tosses today, including a best fling of 178 feet, 10 inches in the finals, the UT junior found herself snaring third-place honors and collecting her second All-America certificate of the day to go along with one earned in the hammer throw during the morning session. Those accolades are the first of her collegiate career.

"We got points on the board from the big throw and third-place finish in the discus from Shanna," J.J. Clark said. "Last year, I don't believe she advanced past the qualifying round. As I have mentioned before, John's (Frazier) done a great job with her, and I congratulate them for that."

Dickenson, who charted a respectable measurement of 170-4 in the discus qualifying round on Wednesday, started today's competition with a season-best toss of 177-7 that put her in fourth place through the prelims and earned her three more tries in the finals. Her second toss of the finals moved her into third at 178-10, and she was unable to improve her stock despite a healthy effort of 175-5 on the last attempt of the best series of her career.

With her performance today, Dickenson became the first Lady Vol discus All-American since Diane Slinden in 2001 and the first top-three NCAA finisher in that event since Alana Preston took second in Boise, Idaho, in 1994. Dickenson's mark also moved her to fifth on UT's all-time performers list.

"It's amazing; it feels great," Dickenson said of her accomplishment. "I had a trip out here last year that didn't go very well, but it was a good experience that allowed me to return this year more mature. With the help of a great coach, I was able to focus in and get things done.

"Looking back to before this meet, discus just has been going horribly for me. To come out here and throw my best is amazing. Coach (John) Frazier has been telling me to stay patient and pounding that thought into my head. I am glad I listened, because I had two big throws come out today."

In the hammer throw, Dickenson was unable to make the finals with her heave of 190 feet even, but she did pick up the first All-America accolade of her collegiate career and became UT's first-ever female All-American in that event. She officially finished 11th in the standings, but she earned A-A honors by virtue of placing among the top eight American competitors.

The Lady Vol 4x100m relay unit also contributed to the point total, snaring a sixth-place finish despite the absence this week of the injured Courtney Champion. With sophomore Celriece Law leading off - instead of Wednesday pop-off leg sophomore Tiki James - and joining freshman Lynne Layne and juniors LaTonya Loche and Cleo Tyson, the Big Orange quartet covered the distance in 44.44 to earn All-America status.

"Our 4x1, without Courtney, running 44 and some change was definitely a positive for our program," Clark said. "We didn't just lie down and die. It's good to get nine points on the board, and tomorrow we look forward to Sarah adding something to that."

Tennessee will head into the final day, as Clark mentioned, with sophomore Sarah Bowman competing in the finals of the 1500m run at 11:22 a.m. Pacific Time (2:22 p.m. ET). That event falls during the broadcast window of CBS-TV, which is televising live Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon PT (1-3 p.m. ET).

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