The Tennessee track and field team will split up on Friday, with some athletes heading back to compete at Clemson and others traveling to Seattle to compete in the Husky Classic hosted by the University of Washington.
Tennessee director of track and field and cross country Beth Alford-Sullivan discussed the challenges of bringing her squad out West to Pac-12 territory.
“We’ve got some challenges,” Alford-Sullivan said. “We have a pretty heavy travel day, and then we’ll start racing all day on Friday and Saturday. Then we’ll go into a mini-distance high-level competition where colleges will send their best runners to race against the best. We’re excited to be going.”
Headlining the Vols in Seattle will be junior Zach Long, who broke a school record in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 7:59:15 at the Bob Pollack Invitational at Clemson two weeks ago.
“Zach Long will run the 3,000 (meter) again,” Alford-Sullivan said. “He’ll try to better his own school record and try to accomplish some things, and then we’ll fill out with developmental, first-time guys going out there in the 3,000 (meter) and 5,000 (meter).”
Multiple other Vols put forth strong performances at the Bob Pollack Invitational, with junior Stamatia Scarvelis winning both the shot put and weight throw competitions and Georgios Korakidis setting a freshman program record for distance in the weight throw (19.66 meters).
Those athletes will look to capitalize on that momentum in the coming events.
While the Vols will be busy on both sides of the United States this weekend, they had a week off to prepare. Alford-Sullivan was pleased with her teams’ preparation heading into this weekend.
“We had a good week,” Alford-Sullivan said. “We really utilized the time that we had to train hard, we had weekend practices this past weekend. We went all the way through and utilized as much as we could, simply because there was no travel, no interruption. We got seven days of practice cycle going. We trained hard and trained heavy.”
Heading into what will be Tennessee’s sixth meet of the indoor season, Alford-Sullivan is looking for some of her athletes to take the next step for the first time this season.
“I think we have that all over the place,” Alford-Sullivan responded when asked who she thinks will have a first big performance this week.
“We’ve got Felicia Majors, who’s ready to run very fast in the women’s 400 (meter). Nathan Strother, who I think is in the top 15 right now, but I can move to the top five in the 400 (meter). I think both of our men’s and women’s relays are doing well, but I think they can take another step forward and do much better.”
The distance runners will head to Seattle on Wednesday and begin competing Friday through Saturday. The jumpers, throwers and sprinters will begin competing at the Tiger Paw Invite at Clemson on Friday and will also wrap up on Saturday before heading back to Knoxville.