Former Lady Vol Dee Dee Trotter, a 2005 graduate who turned pro after winning an NCAA Outdoor 400m dash title as a junior in 2004, pulled off a stunning victory in that event at the AT&T USA Outdoor Championships. The 2004 U.S. Olympic 4x400m relay gold medalist and 400m dash fifth-place finisher uncorked a world-leading and career-best time of 49.64 to win her first U.S. outdoor title.
Trotter's triumph ended an 18-race victory string for favorite and 2005 World Championships silver medalist Sanya Richards, whom the Lady Vol sprinter also defeated on Richards' home track in Austin, Texas, at the 2004 NCAA meet.
The Tennessee All-American earned a ticket to Osaka, Japan, site of the 2007 IAAF World Championships, Aug. 24 through Sept. 2. Trotter will run the open 400m and vie for a spot on the U.S. 4x400m relay, on which Trotter earned gold medals at both the 2003 Pan Am Games and World Championships and the 2004 Olympiad in Athens, Greece.
J.J. Clark, meanwhile, enjoyed the good fortune of having another athlete he coaches taste victory. His pupil, Treniere Clement, raced to her third consecutive U.S. outdoor triumph in the 1500m run, winning in 4:07.04. Lady Vol sophomore Sarah Bowman competed, but she was eliminated in the semifinal round at 4:21.79, as was Clark athlete Natalie Hughes (15th, 4:19.29). Another member of Clark 's post-collegiate camp, Mary Jayne Harrelson, finished 12th in the final with a 4:26.74 readout.
In the 800 meters, Clark's younger sister, Hazel Clark, just missed securing her third-straight and fourth overall U.S. outdoor title. Her time of 1:59.60 left the two-time Olympian in second place, but she did earn a ticket to the World Championship meet in Osaka. Clark, the 2000, 2005 and 2006 U.S. champion, was joined in the 800 meters at Indy by former Lady Vol All-American Nicole Cook.
After taking 2006 off, Cook turned in a respectable 10th-place showing of 2:05.09 as she continued to work her way back to the form that enabled her to chart a collegiate-record 2:00.75 output at the 2005 SEC Indoor Championships.
Long jumper Tianna Madison was the only other Lady Vol athlete in action at the USA Championships. The 2005 SEC and NCAA Indoor and Outdoor champion in the long jump managed a fifth-place jump of 21-6 3/4 in that event over the weekend and did not earn an automatic ticket to Osaka. As the defending world champion, however, she was extended an invitation to the meet.
In addition to the athletes' qualification for various meets this summer, two Lady Vol coaches also earned invitations to join the U.S. staff this summer at the IAAF World Championships.
Field events coach John Frazier and sprint/hurdles/jumps coach Caryl Smith Gilbert were extended that prestigious honor.
Frazier will make the trip to Osaka, but Smith Gilbert will not. The fifth-year UT aide is expecting her first child and also has accepted the head coaching position for the women's program at the University of Central Florida. She is scheduled to take over at UCF on July 1.