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Life is full of hard decisions. For Alonie Sutton, giving up music as well as basketball, a sport she had played since third grade, to focus on track and field was one of those tough decisions. Fortunately, her sacrifice paid off and led her to an easy decision—coming to Tennessee.

“UT was different from the rest of the schools I had in mind,” said the Smiths Station, Alabama, native. “I wanted to go somewhere that I would be comfortable, and I definitely got that feeling at UT.”

image of Alonie SuttonSutton will compete in long jump and triple jump at Tennessee, two events in which she holds the Alabama state record (42-5 in triple jump and 19-09.50 in long jump). She said she is most excited for the new level of competition.

“I know it will be a challenge, but I’m ready to be challenged on that next level,” she said.

Sutton’s new goal is to make it to the SEC championships and the NCAA tournament during her first season at Tennessee, but overall she hopes at the end of the year to be a better jumper and a better person.

While Sutton is a little nervous about the coming year—athletics and academics—she said she’s learned that she isn’t successful when she puts too much pressure on herself. “The more you practice and work hard at something, it’s just going to show.”

Through it all, Sutton said she’ll look to her mother, Trecia Pryor, for the support she needs. While Pryor was a little apprehensive about her daughter coming to Tennessee at first, she told Sutton it was her choice and she would support that choice.

“She’ll probably be here at every single track meet,” Sutton said.

In the long term, Sutton hopes to make track her profession. But if it doesn’t work out, she would like to stay close to athletics as a sports broadcaster.

“My major is journalism, I love writing, I love video, I love figuring out how to put things together so they flow smoothly for people to watch.”

Sutton was so excited to start her time on Rocky Top that she leaped right in to summer classes.

“I graduated from high school two days before I got here,” she said. “I’m just so thankful the coaches gave me an opportunity to come here.”


Cassandra Sproles (865-974-8063,