Running on the same track where she won the Virginia indoor state title in the 500 meters, University of Tennessee freshman Nicole Cook once again came through with a huge performance at Rector Field House. The Petersburg native cruised to a career best time of 2:08.27 to claim victory in the 800m and notch an NCAA provisional qualifying time Saturday afternoon at the Virginia Tech Challenge in Blacksburg.
Cook improved her personal best by three seconds from a 2:11.36 pace she ran at the Kentucky Invitational on Jan. 12 and rose from 13th to seventh on UT's all-time performers list in that event. Additionally, she surpassed junior Kameisha Bennett's 2:09.97 clocking to seize the team's top time at that distance in 2002 and moved to fourth in the Southeastern Conference rankings and number 10 nationally.
Two other freshmen Lady Vols also competed. Monique Berarducci (Knoxville) and junior Amber Ayub (Knoxville) posted personal bests in 2:22.62 and 2:23.17, respectively.
Cook was not the only rookie to turn in an inspired effort. Dee Dee Trotter (Decatur, Ga.) also delivered a noteworthy performance, zooming to third place and booking an NCAA provisional in the 200m with a lifetime best 23.94 and taking sixth in the long jump with a PR of 19-4.75. Those results catapulted her to fifth on the Tennessee all-time performers list in the 200m and 10th in the long jump.