As the school year winds down, the pressure intensifies for Tennessee’s track and field team, which is gearing up for its greatest challenge thus far in the season.
Following an impressive eight-win finish, including six individual personal-bests, at the Tennessee Challenge just three days ago, the Vols will travel to South Carolina on Thursday for the SEC Outdoor Championships. Tennessee’s men’s team enters the Championship ranked No. 23 nationally, with the women ranked at No. 25.
Speaking to reporters at the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio on Monday, director of track and field and cross country Beth Alford-Sullivan was particularly optimistic about her team’s chances.
“We have a few strengths going in,” Alford-Sullivan said. “Christian Coleman will definitely be a major one, and we have both relays on both sides that will be very strong, I believe.”
Coleman, a junior hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, has been a significant weapon for the Vols this year.
Garnering multiple All-SEC mentions, Coleman has compiled an extensive resume since joining the Volunteers nearly three years ago.
This year alone, he won both the 60-meter and 200-meter at the NCAA Indoor Championships, becoming just the third individual to complete the double. He also posted the second-fastest 200-meter time in collegiate history at 20.11, the fastest since Wallace Spearman in 2005.
But according to Alford-Sullivan, her team’s potential doesn’t stop with Coleman.
“Across the board, we’ve got a little bit of everything” Alford-Sullivan said. “There’s still a lot of youth there, a lot of holes we can fill, but we feel really good.”
On the women’s side, the team is anchored by Shania Collins, one of the fastest 100-meter runners in the SEC.
A junior from Huntingtown, Maryland, Collins began her sprinting career at the University of Texas before arriving in Knoxville last fall. Since joining the Vols, Collins has also earned several accolades.
Not only has she set several personal-bests this year, she also holds the two best 200-meter times of the season, with marks of 23.50 and 23.51 while competing at the SEC Indoor Championships in February.
When speaking of Collins, Alford-Sullivan uttered nothing but praise.
“On the women’s side, she’s probably our biggest swing factor,” Alford-Sullivan explained. “She’s got a great chance to make a final, she already did in indoor.”
Despite the hour glass of the season being nearly out of sand, the Volunteers look to continue to make a mark on the year.
The SEC Outdoor Championship will take place at the Sheila and Morris Cregger Track from Thursday, May 11 to Saturday, May 13.