After coming off a successful meet at the Hokie Invitational last week, the Tennessee track and field teams are heading to Columbia, South Carolina, for the Carolina Challenge, kicking off on Thursday morning with a women’s pentathlon at 10 a.m.
The Hokie Invitational resulted in many season and career highs for Tennessee runners, and they’re hoping to take that success into this weekend’s match. The Vols notched six event wins and 22 podium placements. In addition, Tennessee’s athletes set a total of 31 personal best marks.
LaChyna Roe set a school record in the women’s triple jump with a 13.28-meter leap. Following the positive showing, both the men’s and women’s teams placed in the top 30 of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national rankings, placing 27th and 16th respectively.
“We had a great meet at Virginia,” head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan said. “We came away with a school record in the women’s triple jump (and) over about twenty personal records. We had some season bests on lots of people and won a lot of events, and we just competed extremely well.”
Now the track and field squad is looking ahead to the Carolina Challenge, another opportunity to further improve their rankings. Kiara Rhodes will be the first Vol in action, running in Thursday morning’s pentathlon in the 60m hurdles section.
Thursday’s action will conclude at 4:45 p.m. Following that, there will be events all day Friday and Saturday before finishing on Saturday night with the 4x400m relay at 4:30 p.m. The Vols will have plenty of competition, as 48 teams and over 1,500 athletes have signed up to compete in the events.
“You’re going to see some good stuff,” explained Alford-Sullivan. “Kiara Rhodes is starting us off tomorrow in the pentathlon, which is a multi-event for the indoor season. It's five events tomorrow. It starts at 10 a.m. and will get done around three or four in the afternoon.
“Across the board, (it's) really another opportunity to compete coming off of this two week grind and really fine-tuning for the second half of the month.”
While most Tennessee runners are heading to South Carolina, senior captain Zach Long will be traveling to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he will be competing in the Camel City Invitational.
Long will be running alongside some of the nation’s best collegiate and professional runners in the men’s elite 3k and is hoping to break his school record of 7:59.15. The event will begin at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2.
“I’m feeling good,” explained Long. “We’ve had a few heavier weeks of training, and we’ve backed it off a little bit this week. My legs are feeling fresh, I’m feeling light and I’m ready to go.”