Tennessee Track and Field coach Beth Alford-Sullivan wanted to see her team work hard and compete at the Seminole Invitational.
Tennessee's performance last weekend left Alford-Sullivan satisfied on both accounts, as the Vols secured 18 personal bests at Mike Long Track.
Three sprinters, Christian Coleman, Felicia Brown and Kali Davis-White led the charge as they all turned in Olympic A standards. Over the weekend, Tennessee recorded 18 personal bests.
Coleman is ranked No. 5 nationally in the 100 meter with a time of 10.11 seconds — a new personal best. Brown ran a time of 22.55 in the 200 meter, a time good enough to be a new personal record. The time is also the fastest 200 in the nation, both collegiate and professional. Not to be out done, Davis-White set personal bests in the 100 and 200 meter winning the 100 with a time of 11.27 and taking second in the 200 with a time of 22.86.
Coleman and Brown already had times that qualified them for the Olympic Trials and they are now joined by Davis-White. Both of Davis-White’s times are Olympic A standards.
Alford-Sullivan said the team as a whole accomplished what she hoped they would over the weekend.
“We did what I wanted everybody to do,” Alford-Sullivan said. “That was to go down to Florida State in a relatively early to mid-season competition and go to work.”
Alford-Sullivan wanted to see her team not only use the meet as excellent training for the future but also compete up and rise to the occasion.
The men and women’s relay teams rose to the challenge. While both teams enjoyed great success during the indoor season, the men got off to a rocky start at the beginning of the outdoor season. The struggles however, seem like a distant memory as both the 4x100 and 4x400 meter teams won with times of 39.48 and 3:06.74 respectively.
Alford-Sullivan said she hoped the relay teams would perform the way it did and believes that they will run even faster going forward.
In a mirror image of their male counterparts, the women’s 4x1 and 4x4 also scored victories with times of 43.52 and 3:52.16.
As with the men Alford-Sullivan knows the women can run faster and is looking forward to watching them progress as the season advances.
“You have to work hard in certain phases of the season,” Alford-Sullivan said. “We’re in a work phase right now so you may not be in the totally primed up for a big breakthrough performance, yet you still see them. You see some kids really show up and show out.”
Mustaqeem Williams is one of those kids. Competing in both the long jump and the 100 and 200 meter as well as the 4x100 relay, Williams showed the work and effort that Alford-Sullivan wants. Williams earned a personal best and win in the long jump, jumping a distance of 7.57 meters.
Williams set another personal best in the 100 with a time of 10.40.
“Mustaqeem Williams won the long jump on his final jump late on Friday night,” Alford-Sullivan said. “I think it was going on 10 o’clock by that point, it was chilly out. You had (Williams) come back the next day in the 4x1, the 100, the 200, and the 4x4 and have some unbelievable performances through his weekend.
“I would definitely say that (Williams) had a true Tennessee Vol level performance.”
Also enjoying success in the field events were Erin Champion and Tyler Porter, who the women and men's pole vault, respectively. Champion won with a clearance and personal best of 4.07 meters and Porter won with a clearance of 5.07 meters.
In the Hammer throw, Cameron Brown won the event with a toss of 64.78 meters, good for a new personal best. Seth Whitener threw a distance of 60.02 taking third place and Matthew Zajac threw 57.83 finishing fourth.
Missing from the action was All-American pole vaulter Jake Blankenship who is recovering from injury. Blankenship will however return to action this weekend at the Georgia Tech Invitational, competing unattached.
“He’ll be doing that just to get a competition under his belt before he puts a jersey on,” Alford-Sullivan said. “Make sure everything is going well and feels great. All reports, all practices have been outstanding so I suspect this will be a great result this weekend.”
Tennessee moves on to the LSU Alumni Gold meet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this weekend. It will be a one day meet on April 23, but Alford-Sullivan is still looking for the hard work and effort to continue.
She was definitely pleased with the results last weekend, but she still sees ways the can improve.
“This 2016 outdoor teams need to prepare to compete at a little bit deeper level,” Alford-Sullivan said. “I still saw some frustration on some people, some mistakes being made. As we move into late April and early May and we move towards championship time in the middle of May, we’ve got to be passed some of the things that get in our own way and be able to compete through adversity.
“That’s really gonna be the message for this weekend.”