The Lady Vols may have finished fourth as a team, but Tiana Madison is an NCCA Champion.
As has become her custom this season, Madison delivered a first-round knockout. The Tennessee sophomore unleashed a first-round jump of 21 feet, 10 1/4 inches to finish off her opponents and once again walk away with the title of national champ late Thursday.
Madison, who also won the NCAA Indoor crown back in March, completed an undefeated outdoor campaign with six wins and reigned as the victor for the 10th time in 11 competitions in 2005. The native of Elyria, Ohio, who attributes her focus, footwork and aggressive approach to jumping to time spent taking boxing lessons, also swept the Southeastern Conference Indoor and Outdoor Championships this season and triumphed at the NCAA Mideast Regional two weekends ago despite suffering from strep throat. She will continue her season in late June and attempt to make the U.S. team for the IAAF World Championships, as she travels to Carson, Calif., to compete in the USATF Outdoor Championships.
Freshman Cleo Tyson became the first woman in school history to record two top-three national sprint finishes outdoors, and the 4x400-meter relay unit delivered a school-record performance Saturday night, as the University of Tennessee Lady Vols carded their highest outdoor team finish in 18 years at the NCAA Championships.
Coach J.J. Clark's squad surprised most track & field observers by accumulating 40 points over the four-day meet to place fourth and post the program's best outdoor finish and highest point total since 1987. Texas seized the team trophy with 55, followed by UCLA and South Carolina with 48 apiece and then the Lady Vols.
The Lady Vols, who won the NCAA Indoor meet earlier this season, also recorded their best indoor-outdoor combination of national finishes since 1987, when Tennessee placed second and fourth, respectively. Clark was very complimentary of his young team's performance all season long.
“The character of this team really showed up in the big meets,” Clark said. “They performed at every big meet we've competed in, and we overachieved in every one of them. We were predicted to be about sixth or seventh with 28 points here, and we ended up fourth with 40. It's just been a good season. It started with cross country during the fall, from SECs, all the way through.”
UT's 4x4 put an especially-positive capper on the festivities by impressively laying waste to a school best that was set a year ago at the NCAA meet in Austin, Texas. The 2005 quartet of freshman LaTonya Loche, freshman Courtney Champion, junior Patricia Hall and senior Antoinette Gorham inked a new mark in the record book with a third-place showing of 3:27.46.
Tyson, who took second in the 100-meter dash on Friday night, came back less than 24 hours later to secure third in the 200 meters. The rookie from Huntsville, Texas, cruised to a time of 23.01 to become only the second Lady Vol in history to chart a top-three finish in that event.
Tyson winds up her rookie campaign with All-America honor number three outdoors (100m, 200m, 4x100mR) and five total for the 2005 season.