March 1, 2009


The Arkansas Razorback men's and women's teams took over the lead on day two of the 2009 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships after five scored events. The Arkansas men lead Florida by four points while the Razorback women go into the final day of competition at Kentucky's E.J. Nutter Field House with a 13-point edge over LSU.

Arkansas senior Peter-Gaye Beckford hit the dirt at 6.33m (20-09.25), to earn the women's long jump title. Beckford's victory is one year removed from a fourth-place finish at the 2008 Championships when she leaped 20-07.00.    

On the men's side, Razorback Dorian Ulrey broke a Nutter Field House record in the men's 3,000 meters. The junior finished the race in 7:55.56, nearly four seconds faster than fellow Razorback Alistair Cragg's record of 7:59.25 set in 2004.

"This was a mental race and finish for me," Ulrey said. "I hate to lose more than anyone out here. I was so close to the lead pack and I knew I could get closer. I think this is just how I run the 3K. The race played out just like our fast 3K at Washington. Shawn (Forrest) did a great job of taking the race out and I thought they were just going to leave me in the dust. I'm so happy to be running at Arkansas and in the SEC. It's made me a better runner and I love being part of this team atmosphere. This win was great and I'm happy I can contribute to the team."

In addition to the Razorbacks, the Volunteers of Tennessee racked up some big victories on Saturday.

Tennessee senior Sarah Bowman closed the second day of competition by becoming the first three-time consecutive SEC Indoor women's 3K winner and only the second woman to win that event three times at the league meet. Bowman made her move with a lap to go and went on to claim victory as she crossed the finish line at 9:21.66.

"I really go on feel, which is exactly what he (Coach J.J. Clark) tells me." said Bowman.  I usually don't even think about it; it just what happens. In this race, I started getting clipped from behind, and that's what actually made me decide to move. Certain things in a race just trigger it, and when you've been racing a while, it's good to have that kind of responsiveness to what's going on and the situation.  Being flexible and having the ability to respond is reflective of your maturity as a runner, I think.

"To put yourself in the history books in any kind of way is always a good feeling.  I didn't really know that I had done that, so it is kind of a surprise to me. It's my senior year, and I just wanted to go out with a bang and have fun."

On the men's side, the Vols won three titles.

Michael Ayers improved on his lifetime-best heptathlon total by 127 points in claiming his first conference multi-event crown at 5,717 points. The sophomore, who finished third last season, posted lifetime-bests in five of seven events and put distance between him and the field with a stellar pole vault clearance of 5.15m (16-10.75).

"I started strong on Friday, and that was a big part of being able to win," Ayers said. "I had a letdown in the long jump, but everything else was pretty good. I made personal-bests in five of seven events and was really happy with my pole vault performance."
Tennessee junior Brenard Wilson twice improved on his personal-best en route to his first SEC title in the men's high jump. Entering the meet at 2.01m, Wilson didn't miss until he had already set a new lifetime-best at 2.11m. He went on to clear 2.15m on his second attempt before winning the event on number of jumps after both he and Auburn's Ryan Fleck failed to clear 2.19m. Coupled with his seventh-place finish in the long jump, Wilson has now scored in five different SEC meets and two different events in his career.

"It was big for me to go from not performing well at all in the last few meets to breaking through today and winning the conference," Wilson said. "I didn't have any misses on my early jumps and I was able to PR twice as the bar moved up. I was happy with my performance, but I would have liked to have gone a little higher."

In the men's shot put, Nick Panezich of Tennessee registered a toss of 18.55m (60-10.5) on his first throw and watched as the field of 14 competitors attempted to beat it. Entering the meet with a SEC-leading season best of 19.23m (63-1.25), Panezich secured his first SEC title after scoring outdoors in the discus in 2008. He has improved on his lifetime best three times increasing his measurement by almost two meters during the 2009 indoor season.

"It feels great to win," Panezich said. "The past three years, I haven't even made the finals in the shot, so to come back this year and make an impact feels good. I am happy I was able to help out the team."

Three underclassmen won their first event championships to round out the titles handed out on day two.

Sophomore Juliana Smith of Ole Miss claimed the first title of the day as the women's weight throw champion. Smith set a personal record when she launched the weight 18.97 meters - good for a provisional mark.

"I'm pretty excited, mostly for my team, to set the scene for the rest of the weekend," Smith said. "This is my first time scoring at the SEC meet. I didn't even score last year. On the winning throw, I just hit my positions that I wanted to hit. Even after the throw I didn't feel I hit all of those positions but my coach and I were on the same page. It is a personal record for me and I'm looking forward to our meet next week to possibly move up the NCAA provisional list."

Florida captured its second indoor SEC title in the men's long jump in three years, as Christian Taylor claimed the 2009 crown with a leap of 25-3.50/7.71m. Mike Morrison won the 2007 SEC Indoor long jump championship.

"It was intense out there," Taylor said. "I was a last-minute jumper today. When the going got tough, I was really able to come through today. With all this training, I knew I had the potential to be the strongest athlete out there and I was just able to take over at the end."

Louisiana State freshman Rachel Laurent won the women's pole vault. She is the first Lady Tiger in program history to win an SEC title in the pole vault, either indoors or outdoors.

"I think I was more excited about a new PR (personal record) more than anything," Laurent said. "It didn't really hit me that I had won until the competition was over. I'm just grateful that I could do my part for the team and try to get us off to a good start. I never expected anything like this in my first conference meet. I'm very happy with how I jumped today. I actually had a little bit of a scare during warm-ups because the pole I was using was cracked in shipping and I had to use another one in the competition. I really didn't even need it because I felt good once I got out there. I'm just really excited to get our team off to a good start."

Day three of the 2009 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships begins at 11 a.m. EST Saturday with the men's weight throw and ends at 4:55 p.m. EST with the women's 1,600m relay.

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1) Arkansas 45
2) LSU 32   
3) Kentucky 28
4) Tennessee 25
5) Mississippi State 19
6) Florida 18
7) Alabama 10.50
8) Ole Miss 10   
9) Auburn 3
10) South Carolina 2.50
11) Georgia 2   


1) Arkansas 37        
2) Florida 33
3) Tennessee 32
4) Auburn 25
5) South Carolina 19
6) Alabama 14
7) Ole Miss 12
8) Georgia 11
9) Kentucky 6        
9) LSU 6