KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee's Ellen Wortham is fast and fierce.
She holds the nation's top time in the 400-meter hurdles, and she's not just number one on paper. Wortham has been number one on the track as well, every time out.
"I'm undefeated right now," the Lady Vol junior told WVLT Tuesday afternoon. "I've improved my time by over a second. I'm really happy so far with what's happened."
Earlier this year the Maryville native ran the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 55.70 seconds---the fastest NCAA time this year. Heading into the NCAA Track & Field Championships next week in Des Moines, Iowa, Wortham is the hurdler to beat.
"I didn't really come in with any set expectations, like I'm going to have to win the SEC championship, or make this time. For me, I've just been working really hard. I consider myself a hard worked. Its not really about exceeding expectations, but instead working as hard as I can."
Working hard is what her event demands.
"It's definitely one of the toughest in the events in track and field. You're still going as fast as you can and you have to go over barriers. It's definitely a mental thing. You have to overcome pain and keep going."
A psychology major at Tennessee, Wortham says her major has helped her succeed on the track.
"Just being able to recognize negative thoughts and control positive self talk and everything like that. It keeps me focused on myself and not the other competitors because I know I can't change what they are doing in the race."
Earlier this season, Wortham won the SEC championship in the 400-meter hurdles. She was second last year as a sophomore in the event.