The Lady Vols track team raced to a 13th place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, finishing with 15 total points. LSU took home first place with 67 points and fellow SEC rival Florida finished ninth with 26 points. Coach J. J. Clark said he was pleased with his team’s performance for the most part, but he expects more from his program.
“We’ve had a tough year,” Clark said. “The sprint group has been trying to find its rhythm. We have had some ups and downs and some rollercoaster rides. This meet was a little up and down, but we just stuck in there all year and had some successes.”
Clark said he was proud with the team’s placement, especially when team had a “very difficult year.”
“We had some youngsters who didn’t return to school and some bumps along the way,” he said. “We were still one of the top teams in the country, but we look to do even better. I am very proud of what this team has done, though, because it has stuck together, and it has made us stronger as a unit.”
Sarah Bowman had a big day with the Lady Vols, recording the fourth-fastest 1500-meter time in NCAA history. Her school record time of 4:07.50 was good for third place. The time surpassed a 17-year-old record previously held by Jasmine Jones who ran the previous record time in 1991. The mark also gives Bowman the third best time in the nation heading into the US Olympic Trials.
Clark said he wasn’t surprised by Bowman’s performance.
“Obviously, I am very happy as her coach,” he said. “You know it is there. You see it in practice. The weather conditions haven’t been good this season, and she’s had to lead in very windy races, so it’s good to have somebody else take her through, finally, and allow her to do what she is capable of doing.”
Clark said he believed Bowman could perform well.
“It was good to see it happen,” he said. “The fourth fastest college time, the third-best U.S. time this season and the school record — these are all very good things, and she’s been training very hard to get to this point.”
Other top performers for the Lady Vols included Sophomore Phoebe Wright who finished sixth in the 800 with a time of 2:06.56 and junior Celriece Law earned two points with a seventh place finish in the 100 meter hurdles to earn her first All-America honor.
The Lady Vols 4x100 meter relay team consisting of freshman Jeneba Tarmoh, senior LaTonya Loche, senior Cleo Tyson, and Sophomore Lynne Layne finished fifth with a season-best time of 43.83.
“It’s been a very hard year (for our sprint corps),” Clark said. “We had a dropped stick at the SEC meet and have been trying to get under 44 seconds all year long. We finally did it at the most important time of the season, at the NCAA Championships. It was very satisfying to see them put it together. And, after some bad situations in the 100m and 200m the past couple of days, it’s a nice end for our seniors to bring home an NCAA plaque.”