The Tennessee men and women’s track and field teams will be in action this upcoming weekend in Kentucky for the Rod McCravy Memorial. The women’s team was originally scheduled to travel to Notre Dame this weekend, but decided Monday to go to Kentucky for the second straight week.
Last minute scheduling changes are rare, but after a tremendous performance last week at the Kentucky track, coach J.J. Clark jumped at the chance to go back.
“We had several provisional qualifiers and tons of personal bests,” Clark said. “Their performance showed me that the team’s focus and intensity was in the right spots.”
Another reason the team will head back to Kentucky is because it will be held on the same track as this season’s SEC championships. All season, teams will try to earn provisional and hopefully automatic NCAA qualifying marks. The more automatic and top provisional marks a team earns, the better its chance is to win the NCAA title.
The women’s team took a step in that direction when Courtney Champion earned an automatic NCAA qualifying bid over the weekend. This means she is in the NCCA championships already, representing the Lady Vols in the 60-meter dash no matter what happens during the rest of the season. Even though Champion is the NCAA leader in the 60 meters right now, she said she is more concerned with competing for her team’s glory than her own.
“I think I am on the 4 by 400-meter relay this weekend because that is a team race,” she said.
Another reason Champion is in the relay is because Clark wants the same athletes to earn provisional marks and automatically qualify in as many events as possible.
Other athletes to watch for this weekend include freshmen Nia Ali and Lynne Layne who both had impressive debuts this season. Making the jump from high school to college track is tough, but according to teammates and results on the track, Ali and Layne have adjusted well. Layne as well as Leslie Treherne are candidates to be the fourth member of an all-star team, running the 1,600-meter relay this weekend that will include Champion and juniors Cleo Tyson and LaTonya Loche.
The men’s team will also be participating in the Rod McCravy Memorial. They will look to get off to another fast start like they did last week when Samdi Fraser won the 500-meter run in the first event of the tournament. A winning streak to keep track of is Richard Wooten’s. Wooten has won the shot put event two weeks in a row.
Jangy Addy will look to continue a great season in which he has done the best of the multi-event athletes. However, he has yet to record a win. He has been close several times, and this weekend might be the breakthrough.
An interesting question this weekend is who will participate in the 55-meter dash. Rubin Williams pulled up last week due to injury and freshman Kyle Stevenson came out of nowhere to finish ahead of all the other Tennessee participants in the event.
With top SEC schools such as Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky competing along with non-SEC schools like Memphis, Louisville and Virginia Tech, this event should be a competitive one.
Track looks for more success in Bluegrass State
Published: Thu Jan 18, 2007 | Modified: Thu Jan 18, 2007 02:27 p.m.