Led by anchor Nicole Edwards, Michigan came from behind down the home stretch to win in 10 minutes, 49.58 seconds, charting the second-fastest readout in meet history.
Tennessee, meanwhile, jumped from fourth place early in the race to first over most of the last two hitches to wind up second in 10:50.51, snapping a 24-year-old school standard by more than three seconds. That's nothing to sneeze at, considering the components of that previous record-setting quartet included Alisa Harvey, Ilrey Oliver, Karol Davidson and Joetta Clark.
With the runner-up outcome, Tennessee just missed charting its first repeat win in the DMR at Penn Relays. The Lady Vols had triumphed last year, as well as in 2004 and 1983. UT, which won the NCAA Indoor DMR national championship in March, also came up short on its bid to match the 2004 Big Orange unit's feat of winning both titles during the same year.
Handling the stick first for Tennessee was freshman Brittany Sheffey, who ran a 3:24.3 split for the opening 1200m leg and led the first 900 meters before giving up first place to Michigan's Danielle Tauro over the final 300 meters.
Next came senior LaTonya Loche and she erased a three-second Wolverine advantage by running a blistering 51.5 400m hitch before handing off the baton.
Sophomore Phoebe Wright grabbed the stick next for the 800m leg and delivered her finest performance as a Lady Vol. The former walk-on from Signal Mountain, Tenn., ran on All-American Geena Gall's heels for the first 600 meters before putting Tennessee back into the lead over the final 200 as she closed out her remarkable 2:01.7 split by handing off the baton to the awaiting Sarah Bowman.
Bowman, a junior from Warrenton, Va., carried the Lady Vols to victory last season in this race by holding off a stiff challenge from Villanova. This time, it was Michigan and Edwards giving chase, and on this day it was Edwards who came through in the clutch.
The Michigan standout covered the final 1600m hitch in 4:31.9 to Bowman's 4:32.9, making her move with about 100 meters to go and moving past Bowman down the homestretch to hit the line first in a race that was a two-team battle nearly all the way from the beginning.
"We broke the school record today with a very notable performance," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "I am very proud of what they did. The splits were very solid and the time was one of the fastest ever recorded here or in this country.
"There is no reason to hold our heads down. It was an amazing race, and the performance we had today wins most of the time. That mark is a very, very good one. We just look forward to getting back on the track and having more good efforts tomorrow."
In the first event of the day, the Lady Vol 4x100m relay contingent of freshman Jeneba Tarmoh, senior Cleo Tyson, Loche and sophomore Lynne Layne was one of eight teams advancing to Friday's 12:55 p.m. "Championship of America" final. The UT quartet did so by logging a near season-best time of 44.53 and taking third in the fastest overall heat of the afternoon, heat six.
Joining Tennessee in the final will be Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, TCU and a pair of Jamaican units, G.C. Foster and UTech, which both finished ahead of Tennessee in heat six.
"We ran well enough to advance today," Clark said. "We need to clean some things up and must have better stick passing to be in the thick of things on Friday."
Out on the West Coast, Tennessee 's throwers had a successful Thursday afternoon in the USATF Discus Development Series at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista , Calif. While the results do not count for NCAA qualifying purposes, they are official and bode well as the group heads to the UCSD Triton Invitational in LaJolla on Friday.
Freshman Annie Alexander led the way, stretching the tape to a career best of 182-7 to move to No. 3 on the school's all-time performers list. Senior Shanna Dickenson unleashed a season-best effort of 178-0 to chart her second-longest measurement ever, while classmate Amara McKell posted a career topper with a fling of 156-10, a mark that would have been a regional qualifier if the meet was certifiable by the NCAA.
Back in Philly, Van Horn had to work late at Franklin Field on Thursday night, but it paid off with an NCAA provisional qualifying time and a third-place finish in the "Championship" division of the 10,000 meters at the Penn Relays.
Van Horn, who hails from Glendora, N.J., covered the 25 laps in 34 minutes, 52.97 seconds to meet the 35:00.00 NCAA provisional mark and notch her best outdoor finish at any distance in her UT career. She had previously run 35:00.98 in the 10K this season at the Stanford Invitational on March 31.
Areson recorded a career best in the Championship 5000 meters. Her time of 17:10.88, in only her second race ever at that length, was good for 19th place.
Tennessee returns to the track on Friday in Philly to compete in the 4x100m (12:55 p.m.), 4x1500m (1:25 p.m.) and 4x200m relays (2:05 p.m.) as well as the 100m hurdles heats (3:35 p.m.), where junior Celriece Law will be in action.