Finishing kick

Wortham, Colvin sign to become Lady Vols

The track at Science Hill High School is still cooling.

“They ran pretty fast,” Maryville High School track coach Nick White said. “These girls have definitely put Maryville High School women’s track and field on the map.”

Ellen Wortham and Ally Colvin were two parts of a 4x400-meter relay team that crushed the school record for the event at a sectional meet in Johnson City last month. A week later, they went even faster, blowing through the state record for the distance, finishing second at the Spring Fling state meet when rival Knox West edged the Lady Rebels by seven tenths of a second.

Colvin and Wortham elevated record breaking to science during their careers, and, on Monday, both were rewarded for the efforts, both inking a National Letter of Intent to run track at the University of Tennessee next season.

“I definitely wanted to run in college and I always dreamed to be able to run for UT,” Colvin said, “but I never expected it. I don’t think it’ll sink in until I get out there in practice wearing that orange and white.”

The foursome of Julia Petree, Ashley Bridenbaugh, Colvin and Wortham had a previous best time of 4 minutes, 1 second prior to the sectional scorcher. With Wortham running the anchor, the Lady Rebel quartet came home in 3:53, shaving an unheard of eight seconds off their time.

“We ran a 3:53 there, and that blew us away,” Colvin said.

At state, they would reduce the time to 3:51.82.

“I just worry somebody’s going to catch me,” Wortham said. “That’s what makes me run fast.”

There aren’t many who’ve run with Colvin and Wortham the last four years.

Wortham, state champion in the pentathlon and high jump last month, leaves Maryville as the school record-holder in the long jump, 100-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles. Her 5-foot-6 high jump is shy of the school mark by two inches.

Colvin owns every Lady Rebel record when it comes to distance, setting the standard in the 800, 1600 and 3200. She was also the key component on the school’s record-holding 4x800 relay.

Signing with Tennessee completed a lifelong quest, Wortham said.

“It was a really good feeling,” she said. “It’s finally here. I’ve waited a long time for this.”

Several schools, including Miami, Vanderbilt and Louisville, made offers for the Maryville star. Wortham said she gave each due consideration, but there was really no decision.

“I always wanted to go to UT,” she said. “I (basically) made myself look at other colleges.”

Knoxville Track Club youth athletics director Marty Sonnenfeldt has worked with Colvin and Wortham since both were 8. Lady Vols track coach J.J. Clark is getting a pair of gems, Sonnenfeldt said. Wortham and Colvin both have what it takes athletically to be successful on the college level, he said, but it’s more than that. It’s the thing they’ve always had that sets them apart.

“Probably the thing you look for is the thing you can’t coach - the kid’s competitiveness,” he said. “They have that rare ability to really go after it when the gun goes off. You can see that at an early age, and Ally and Ellen both have that.”

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