Track and field looking to utilize momentum in Vulcan Invitational

FILE - Shania Collins in the 100 meter dash during the Tennessee Relays at Tom Black track on April 7, 2017.

The Tennessee track and field team turned in another successful weekend following a dominant outing last week at the Bob Pollock Meet.

The team split up to compete in Virginia Tech’s Doc Hale Elite Meet, while two long distance runners made a name for themselves at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational.

Starting on the right foot

This weekend, 12 Vols set personal records including sophomores Ethan Robinson and Peyton Davis, who set two records each on Friday.

Robinson began his Friday evening with a second-place finish in the prelims of the men’s 60-meter hurdles. He was only loosening up, as he followed that with a first-place finish and personal best (8.05) in the final.

Robinson’s second personal best came in the men’s pole vault, which he finished sixth with a leap of 4.50 meters.

Davis broke both of his personal records running in the men’s 60-meter hurdles alongside Robinson. He broke his previous best during the prelims with a time of 8.56 seconds. He then broke this record during the finals with a time of 8.46, earning a fifth place finish.

Transfer student Uchechi Nwogwugwu made her debut for the Lady Vols on Friday. She picked up her first win at Tennessee in the women's 400-meter, crossing the line in 54.68 seconds.

This success is nothing new Nwogwugwu, who was a standout at Penn where she spent her undergraduate career.

She held Penn’s school record for indoor and outdoor in the women’s 400-meter. She was also on a 4x400 relay team that won the Champions of America and went to the NCAA Championships.

Pole vaulters reach new heights

The Vols made the most of the pole vault action on both Friday and Saturday. Aside from Robinson, two pole vaulters broke personal records on Friday.

Freshmen Natalie Clark (3.9 meters) and Sarah Schmitt (3.8) made marks on the women’s side of the competition.

The Lady Vols continued vaulting on Saturday with Sara Barton and Hannah Jefcoat. Both women reached a height 4.09 meters – Barton’s personal best which is sixth all-time for the event in Tennessee’s history.

"I am proud of our entire Virginia Tech crew,” director of track and field Beth Alford-Sullivan said. “We had a lot of personal bests. We saw some great pole vaulting yesterday and today and great hurdles from the men's multi-group on Friday. Everything we brought up there was solid and they all got some great experience.”

Quick miles on Sunday

At Virginia Tech’s Doc Hale Elite Meet, Brook Dixon broke the freshman school record for the women’s indoor 1600-meter. She posted a first place time of 4:44.81, breaking a 17-year record set by Sarah Bowman in 2005.

Alford-Sullivan was not surprised by Dixon’s performance.

"We were very confident in Brooke, seeing what she has been doing in training,” Alford-Sullivan said. “We felt she could put herself in position to get that record and then she just crushed it. She did a great job and she's got a lot more to come in her future. Just very proud of her today.”

Olivia Janke and Kayle Gholar also ran the mile at Doc Hale with Janke placing second behind her teammate in 4:49.47. Gholar finished 11th overall in 4:57.32, setting a personal best in the indoor mile.

Katie Thronson and Tim Thacker ran the mile for the Vols at Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational.

Against stout competition, Thacker finished sixth in the men’s mile race with a time of 4:02.79. This personal best for Thacker is the second fastest indoor mile in Tennessee history, narrowly missing John Wright’s record time of 4:02.4.

"Tim Thacker in the men's race, an NAIA guy running against some of the best athletes in the country,” Alford Sullivan said. “He gave his best effort and is No. 2 all-time in our record books and will certainly have his sights set on breaking that record."

In addition to Thacker, Katie Thronson garnered the third fastest women’s mile in school history with a time 4:39.35. She placed third in the event.

“It is quite the feather in the cap to run in the Meyo Mile seeded heats and both Katie and Tim earned that opportunity,” Alford-Sullivan said. “We saw another big PB from Katie and she got after the leaders, I'm just so proud of her today.”

Up next

Tennessee will split the team next weekend as it travels to Nashville for the Music City Invitational and Fayetteville, Arkansas, for the Tyson Invite. Both meets run Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11 and 12.

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