Three Lady Vols make event finals

DES MOINES, Iowa - Tennessee's Phoebe Wright, Sarah Bowman and Annie Alexander did exactly what they needed to do in their respective preliminary events Thursday evening. As a result, they each earned berths in Saturday's nationally-televised finals at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium.

Wright, a former walk-on from Signal Mountain, Tenn., who attended Red Bank High School, qualified for her first career NCAA individual final in the 800 meters. After running a time of two minutes, 6.10 seconds in Wednesday's first round, the sophomore kicked it up a notch on day two to chart a career-best clocking of 2:04.38 that placed her fourth in heat one of the semifinals and eighth among the qualifiers.

She is in position to earn points for her team and garner her third All-America performance of the season after receiving acclaim with two relays during the indoor campaign.

"It's a good story, Phoebe not making it out of the regional meet last season and now she's in the finals of the NCAA Championship meet a year later," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "She's worked very hard to be in this position, and you have to give her a lot of credit for what she's done."

In the 1500 meters, Bowman got the job done and earned herself a spot in her second straight NCAA final in this event. The five-time All-American and 10th-place finisher in this event a year ago picked her way through a congested pack down the home stretch to earn the fourth automatic qualifying spot in heat one in 4:15.79.

As it turned out, that heat was the fastest of the two semifinal races, and the junior from Warrenton, Va., enters Saturday's final with the fourth fastest qualifying mark. She finished third in the mile at NCAA Indoors.

"Sarah has learned how to navigate her way through crowds and not panic when there are a bunch of people around her," Clark said. "She made the finals for the second year in a row and looked very good doing it tonight."

After struggling and failing to make the trophy round of the discus throw 24 hours earlier, Alexander bounced back on Thursday with her typical strong showing in the shot put. The freshman and school record-holder from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, unloaded a toss of 53-9 3/4 on her second attempt of the qualifying round to finish fifth among the 12 advancers. She will be making her first appearance in an NCAA final after missing out during the indoor season.

"Annie, of course, had a really rough day yesterday in the discus," Clark said. "She showed a lot of maturity as a freshman today by coming back to make the finals in the shot put."

In the 100-meter hurdle prelims, junior Celriece Law ( Denver) took care of business and advanced to Friday's semifinal round. Her 13.31 effort was good for second in heat four and was 11th fastest of the qualifiers. She will be making her first appearance in the semis in her third trip to the NCAA Outdoor meet.

"Celriece started it off for us today by advancing to the semifinals and taking second in her heat," Clark said. "That was a good start in getting the kinks out. She's been sitting around (the hotel) a couple of days, so it's good to get the race under her belt."

After bowing out of the 100-meter dash competition in the semifinal round on Wednesday night, sophomore Lynne Layne (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and freshman Jeneba Tarmoh (San Jose, Calif.) came back to the track Thursday hoping to make some noise in the 200 meters. It wasn't to be for the UT sprint duo, though, as Layne placed 21st overall (fourth in heat four) in 23.92, while Tarmoh was 22nd (fourth in heat five) in 23.93.

"We had some mishaps in the sprints and were a little up and down in that area," Clark said. "Our open sprinters did not do what we thought they would do, but we'll move on and look forward to tomorrow's relay final. They'll have to execute that stick with precision."

In addition to Law running in the 100m hurdles semis on Friday, Tennessee's 4x100m relay quartet will attempt to get the Lady Vols on the scoreboard for the first time this week. The gun goes off at 7:05 p.m. Central Time (8:05 p.m. ET).

CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) will televise Friday's action live from 8 to 11 p.m. Eastern Time. CBS-TV will carry Saturday's final day events live from 4 to 6 p.m. ET.

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