Happy in Happy Valley again?

The Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track at Penn State University has been a very productive place for the Tennessee women's track & field team over the past five seasons. Head Coach J.J. Clark hopes that will be the case again in 2008, as he takes his third-ranked Lady Vols to Happy Valley for the Penn State National on Friday and Saturday.

The Big Orange will join a large field of teams for the two-day meet, including such foes as the No. 12 host Nittany Lions, Connecticut, Georgetown, No. 21 Hampton, Maryland, No. 16 North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, No. 18 Villanova, Virginia, No. 10 Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

Action begins at 10 a.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and runs until 10 p.m. on day one and 6:15 p.m. on day two.

"Our objective is to become sharper as the weeks progress," Clark said. "At Penn State, we would like to put more marks on the board, qualify people for the NCAA Indoor meet and get them sharp and closer to championship form."

The Lady Vols have made a splash in recent years at Penn State, including a school record distance medley relay time of 11:03.42 in 2004, secured by Nicole Cook, Lindsay Hyatt, Dee Dee Trotter and Brooke Novak.

That mark is a facility record at Penn State, as are Trotter's 2004 effort of 23.19 in the 200 meters, and the 2005 4x400m relay clocking of 3:34.38, achieved by LaTonya Loche (Bastrop, La.), Cook, Patricia Hall and Courtney Champion (Lawrenceville, Ga.).

A year ago, the Orange and White won three events and charted 15 NCAA provisional qualifying marks on the banked 200m oval at PSU. Champion, now a senior, took the title in the 60m dash in 7.32 seconds to extend UT's streak of victories at the meet in that event to three in a row.

Huntsville, Texas, product Cleo Tyson, Champion's current senior teammate, won the 60m dash at the meet in 2005 and 2006. Katie Van Horn (Glendora, N.J.) won the invitational 5000m in a career-best 16:34.09 as a sophomore. Graduated senior Felicia Guliford had the other triumph, coming in the open 5000m.

Champion and Tyson are back in 2008, and they will join sophomore Lynne Layne (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and perhaps rookie Jeneba Tarmoh (San Jose, Calif.) in pursuit of this year's Penn State National short sprint crown.

Layne, the SEC's Female Runner of the Week on Jan. 15, won the 60m at the season-opening Kentucky Invitational in an NCAA provisional clocking of 7.37 and led a surge of six Lady Vols finishing 1-2-3-5-6-8 in the final. Champion was the runner-up in 7.45 after logging a provisional of 7.39 in the prelims.

Van Horn will attempt defense of her invitational 5000-meter title of a year ago. She warmed up for that prospect by logging a 4:57.43 readout in the mile at Kentucky two weeks ago. Her victorious time last year ranks as her second-best career effort behind a 16:32.79 performance at the 2007 Tyson Invitational.

Junior Sarah Bowman (Warrenton, Va.), a three-event winner at last year's SEC Indoor Championships, will open her 2008 campaign. She is listed as an entry in the mile and with Tennessee's distance medley relay unit. At last year's Penn State National, she anchored UT to second in the DMR at 11:14.01 and was the runner-up in the invitational mile in a career-best and NCAA provisional time of 4:43.08.

In the field events, Lady Vols to watch include freshman Annie Alexander (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago) and senior Shanna Dickenson (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Alexander was the SEC Female Freshman of the Week two weeks ago after winning the shot and indoor discus at Kentucky and posting a strong NCAA provisional mark in the shot at 53-9 1/4. Dickenson, meanwhile, took second in the weight throw in Lexington at 60-0 1/2 and was the SEC runner-up in that event last season. She was third in the weight and eighth in the shot at Happy Valley in 2007.

Tennessee also will have strong entries in the 60m hurdles, where junior Celriece Law (Denver, Colo.) is slated to run; in the invitational 200m, where UT will enter the bulk of its stellar sprint corps; and the 4x400m relay, as the Lady Vols attempt to meet the NCAA provisional cut of 3:40.00 that they narrowly missed in week one. Kentucky Invitational pole vault runner-up Alicia Essex, a junior from Purcellville, Va., is slated to take part in the invitational division at Penn State.

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