Senior Nicole Cook set a collegiate record in the 800-meter event and sophomore Felicia Guilford won her second event of the meet, fueling the No. 4 Lady Vols to the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sunday.
It was the first indoor title for the Lady Vols since 1984, when Tennessee won the league’s inaugural event.
Tennessee tallied 135.50 points and held off a valiant effort from the home-standing Lady Razorbacks to win by 15.5 points.
“To be down 14 1/2 points (to Arkansas) after the second day and come back and win in this hostile environment ... is amazing,” UT coach J.J. Clark said. “Being enclosed in this arena with the fans calling the Hogs and cheering on their team, it was very challenging.”
Cook was brilliant in capturing her second straight SEC Indoor 800m crown. The Petersburg, Va., native led wire to wire, holding off Arkansas’ Aneita Denton with a phenomenal 2 minutes, 0.75 seconds that easily eclipsed an 11-year-old NCAA record set by Wisconsin’s Amy Wickus in 1994 (2:01.65).
With the win, Cook became the first Lady Vol to repeat as an individual champion since Patty Wiegand won back-to-back 3,000m titles in 1990 and 1991.
“I knew if I got out fast and kept moving, it would be a fast time,” Cook said. “I had no idea I would set a record today, thought. I felt good the whole race and when I started the last lap, I knew I had more in me.”
Guilford, meanwhile, walked away with victories in the 3,000m on Saturday and the 5,000m on Sunday. Her second run was a career-best and NCAA provisional-qualifying 16:43.15.
All told, the Lady Vols won five events: long jump (Tianna Madison), 800m (Cook), 3,000m and 5,000m (Guilford) and distance medley relay (Mindy Sullivan, Toyin Olupona, Cook, Brooke Novak).
“I said at the beginning of the weekend that we were trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make a pretty picture,” Clark said. “That is exactly what we did.”
Tennessee Men Finish Third: With 89 points, the Vols finished just three points behind Florida to finish third at the SEC Indoor Championship.
The Vols marked significant improvement from 2004, when they finished sixth with 60 points. UT either led or stood second until the final event of this year’s meet despite losing some points to injuries.
Garland Porter led the squad in scoring with 11 points after taking second place in the weight throw and sixth in the shot put.
“We ended up a really strong third,” men’s coach Bill Webb said. “We were three points out of second in the best conference in the nation. That’s not a bad weekend’s work.”
Several UT heroes proved unlikely. Freshman pole vaulter Michael Hogue finished second in his first SEC meet with a lifetime-best, NCAA provisional-qualifying 17 feet, 3 1/2 inches clearance.
The usual suspects were there, too. The 60m sprinters kept UT in the team lead early with an 11-point performance. Jonathan Wade took a third-place finish in 6.73, and Rubin Williams took fourth in 6.73, nine-thousandths of a second behind Wade.
Chris Helwick scored eight points for the Vols, taking second in the heptathlon.
The Vols and Lady Vols will conclude their indoor season March 11-12 at the NCAA Indoor Championships, also in Fayetteville.