Tennessee added two more athletes to the growing number going to the Olympic Trials.
On Friday, 2,726 miles apart from each other, Christian Coleman and Chelsea Blaase punched their tickets to the Olympic Trials.
Head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan was excited but also reserved.
“We don’t really worry too much about what’s going to happen in the Olympic Games this summer,” Alford-Sullivan said. “It’s great to see them performing at that level and to see them competing at an elite level in our sport.”
Blaase, along with earning a spot at Trials, smashed her own school record in the 10,000 meters.
Blaase ran a 32:08.39 at the Stanford Invitational, which breaks her personal best and previous school record of 32:28.
Blaase will not run in the 10K again until the championship portion of the season starts in May with the SEC Championships. Last season, Blaase earned All-American honors in the 10K.
Blaase is No. 2 nationally behind Courtney Smith of Harvard. Smith ran a 32:08.32 at the Stanford Invitational.
To qualify for the Olympic trials in the 100 meters, the time to beat is 10.16. At the Florida Relays, Coleman hit 10.16. Unlike Blaase, though, Coleman will have plenty of chances to improve that time.
“That’s a great opener, and from what I understand, he has room for improvement,” Alford-Sullivan said. “It wasn’t a perfect race for him. I think you’ll continue to see him progress through the season.”
The time is also a new personal record for Coleman in the event. Coleman was the top collegiate finisher at the Florida Relays and is currently No. 4 in the nation in the 100. Coleman is the top SEC runner in the 100.
Other Vols put in strong performances over the weekend as well.
For the women, Felecia Majors posted a time of 23.01 in the 200 meters. Both the 4x100 and the 4x400 meters relay teams performed nicely for the women as well. The 4x1 ran a time of 43.45 while the 4x4 ran 3:31.29.
“We ran great 4x2s and very, very good openers in the 4x4s,” Alford-Sullivan said.
The women’s 4x4 placed fourth behind Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina. The 4x2 was the top collegiate finisher, and the 4x1 also placed fourth with one non-collegiate team ahead of it.
The men’s 4x2 was fifth, and the 4x4 finished third at the Florida Relays. The 4x1 had trouble getting the baton around and did not score a time.
Individually for the men, Nathan Strother and Ari Cogdell posted solid times in the 400 meter. 46.18 for Strother and 46.45 for Cogdell.
Jake Blankenship has yet to compete during the early portion of the outdoor season after suffering an injury at the tail end of the indoor season. Blankenship, who has also qualified for the Olympic Trials, is said to be feeling better and is ready to compete again.
“I think we’ll see him over the next couple of weeks open up his outdoor season as well,” Alford-Sullivan said.
Tennessee was scheduled to host its annual Tennessee Relays this weekend at Tom Black Track, but due to continued construction and renovation of the track and its facilities, that event has been cancelled this season. Instead, Tennessee will train through this week and return to action at the Seminole Relays April 15 and 16.