Running at that distance for the first time in her life, University of Tennessee sophomore Sharon Dickie won the 5000 meters by 20 seconds at the Cannon IV Classic Saturday night, notching an NCAA provisional qualifying time in the process and charting the third fastest indoor time in that event ever by a Lady Vol.
Dickie crossed the line in 16:28.67 to record a time well below the provisional mark of 16:48.45 and was just over 10 seconds behind the automatic standard of 16:18.45. Since 1996 all 5K runners with marks below 16:39 have received bids to the NCAA Indoor Championships. This year's indoor meet is March 9-10 in Fayetteville, Ark.
After missing all of last year's cross country and track and field schedule due to a hip injury, Dickie bounced back to earn cross country All-America honors during the fall under first-year distance coach Rodney Rothoff.
What a great start for her first 5000m, Rothoff said. Her strong finish demonstrated that she had a lot left at the end of the race. That indicates to me she can go much faster. I am very pleased with her effort and what she accomplished tonight.
Also running at the National Institute of Sport & Fitness in Indianapolis were sophomore Kameisha Bennett and volunteer assistant coach Maureen Ferris. Bennett did not meet the provisional of 2:09.60 that she and Rothoff were hoping for, but she did turn in a personal best of 2:12.28 to place eighth in the 800m. Ferris, meanwhile, cranked out a lifetime best effort of 4:43.27 to finish second in the mile.
In Blacksburg, Va., on day two of the Pepsi Invitational at Virginia Tech, senior Rashida Dodson took top billing with her second-place outcome in the consolation finals of the 60m dash. After turning in a PR of 7.60 on Friday night, she responded with a 7.65 trip down the track on Saturday evening. Also in that race was Samantha Coulson, who was sixth in 7.78.
Freshman Erin Anderson ran a pair of strong races, winning her section and finishing eighth in the 3000m in 10:08.34 and coming back to place seventh in the 1000m at 3:02.53.
In the final event of the evening, the Lady Vol 4x400m relay unit was off to a good start when misfortune struck. Thanks to a strong lead leg by Dodson and an impressive first 200m by Coulson, UT was running in first place. However, as an Alabama runner attempted to pass Coulson on the first turn of her second lap, the Lady Vol's baton hand and the Crimson Tide runner's arm collided, sending the baton flying. Coulson recovered the stick, but Christina Clark and Kelly Flowers were left with no opportunity to post a solid time. Alabama went on to win in 3:43.75, while Tennessee wound up 13th in a disappointing 4:01.85.