Tennessee director of track and field and cross country Beth Alford-Sullivan and her team will play host this weekend to the Tennessee Relays at Tom Black Track in LaPorte Stadium from Thursday through Saturday.
The Vols have notched multiple achievements already this season and will attempt to expand upon them this weekend. As the crowd they run in front of will likely be made up largely of Tennessee fans for the first time in the outdoor season, it will give them a taste of what the conference tournament will be like when it is hosted in Knoxville in May.
Two of the biggest stars that will take the stage this weekend are Tennessee’s own Christian Coleman, a professional sprinter and a student at the university, and Justin Gatlin, the reigning world champion in the 100m dash and a former Vol.
The two will be running a relay and will be trying to break an American record in front of the Vols’ faithful fans in the 4x100m. Gatlin, a Tennessee Hall-of-Famer, is the architect of this event.
“This was his idea to run this relay on Rocky Top, and we are thrilled with that … There is definitely some opportunity for (them) to meet the press, meet the team and meet the fans at the track,” Alford-Sullivan said.
Staying home this weekend will give the Vols some much-needed rest and recovery after competing well in California and Florida.
“We are thrilled with our early outdoor season success (in field events) … (We) had some great breakthroughs for some,” Alford-Sullivan said.
One of the success stories in the field has been Jordan West, a freshman from New Jersey. He set his own Tennessee freshman record in the shot-put in Palo Alto, California, last weekend en route to a third-place finish in the event.
“We are thrilled with how Jordan is progressing,” Alford-Sullivan said. “First of all, he is a great student … He is representing the orange in every fashion with first-class manner … He has come in as a true freshman … (and) gotten a lot bigger, faster and stronger.
“I think you will see a continuation of the same thing throughout this season.”
Kwantreyl McConico, a sprinter, had a personal record last week on the way to a fifth-place finish at the Florida Relays. He is looking to gain momentum after dealing with injuries most of the indoor season.
“He was fighting a few nagging injuries during indoor, but he is real strong and real fresh right now,” Alford-Sullivan said.
For the Tennessee track and field team, this weekend is again additional time in the spotlight as the team heads down the homestretch into the postseason.
The Tennessee Relays will begin with the women’s heptathlon on Thursday at 10 a.m. The event will conclude on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with the men’s 4x400m.