The ninth-ranked Tennessee women's track and field team put the icing on a splendid weekend Saturday at Tom Black Track, as the Lady Vols cruised to a record-setting victory in the 4x800m relay and added a triumph in the long jump from freshman Tianna Madison to close out the 38th-annual Sea Ray Relays.
The Lady Vol lineup of sophomore Brooke Novak, junior Nicole Cook, freshman Leslie Treherne and senior Kameisha Bennett toppled a 15-year-old Sea Rays record and 26-year-old Tom Black Track collegiate mark with a victorious 8:28.87 performance in the 4x800m relay. South Carolina and Michigan challenged early in the race before finishing second and third, respectively, in 8:35.44 and 8:36.65.
"We put things together and ran well," coach J.J. Clark said. "Leslie Treherne wasn't able to match the race (open 800m) she ran yesterday, but we still managed to get the job done and beat a fine South Carolina team."
UT's second victory on the final day came from Madison, who walked away with her second title of the meet as well as another NCAA regional qualifying mark. With a leap of 20-3.75/6.19m, Madison became UT's first Sea Rays titlist in the long jump since Dedra Davis in 1993 and only its third ever.
The Elyria, Ohio, product, who is now set for regionals individually in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and long jump, claimed top honors over Nike's Shana Williams, who was second in 20-1.75/6.14m, as well as such luminaries as reigning Sea Rays champion Chelsea Hammond of South Carolina and Penn State jumps standout Chi-Chi Aduba.
"It's very exciting to see a freshman perform so well at this meet," Clark said. "She was a high-caliber athlete in high school and is coming through with some big performances as a Lady Vol. We're very excited about the future she has with this program."
In the distance medley relay, Tennessee improved its time from the 2003 Sea Rays meet by five seconds despite running without NCAA Indoor championship contributors Novak and junior Dee Dee Trotter. Despite the faster pace, the effort was not enough to hold off Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons put together an impressive 11:12.91 readout to prevent a repeat UT victory and also replaced the Lady Vols as Tom Black Track collegiate record holders.
With Cook, junior Antoinette Gorham, redshirt freshman Mindy Sullivan and senior Lindsay Hyatt toting the baton, Clark's squad took second in 11:14.09, bettering last year's track collegiate best of 11:19.19 and ranking as the sixth-fastest DMR ever turned in by a Lady Vol quartet.
Knoxville All-Stars, which featured the J.J. Clark-coached quartet of Jearl Miles-Clark, Erin Merten, Hazel Clark and Becki Wells, finished third in 11:26.66.
Junior Elizabeth McCalley kept the positive accolades coming for the distance contingent, as the Karns High School product toppled her own school record in the 3000m steeplechase, finishing fourth and earning a ticket to the NCAA Mideast Regional meet. McCalley covered the distance in the Invitational event in 10:46.99, shaving over 16 seconds off her previous UT mark of 11:03.38. Sarah Gall, running unattached, took the title in 10:33.09.
That was certainly the case in the 200 meters, where a trio of Lady Vols recorded personal bests and two of them earned NCAA regional berths. Trotter, Madison and Toyin Olupona took third, fifth and 10th, respectively, in times of 23.27, 23.80 and 24.07, with Trotter and Madison gaining acceptance into the regional competition.
Tennessee's final two regional qualifying outputs came via relays. First, it was the 4x100-meter relay combination of Olupona, Trotter, Madison and Treherne placing seventh in 45.48. Later, in the final event of the meet, the quartet of Trotter, Cook, Gorham and Bennett joined forces to lock up a regional berth in the 4x400m relay with a third-place performance of 3:32.71.
Senior Jessica Southers contributed the only other noteworthy finish on the day, taking fifth in the 5000-meter run in a time of 17:21.06.