On July 24 we wish Happy Birthday to American Olympic hurdler Aries Merritt
, a seven-time All-American at Tennessee. Merritt is going to the Olympics after winning the final of the 110m hurdles. Merritt finished in 12.93, one-hundredth of a second behind the meet record.
After an outstanding career at the University of Tennessee, Merritt in the last several years has been steadily climbing the professional ranks. He decided to forgo his senior season to pursue a professional career in track & field. Merritt left Tennessee with 14 total school, meet or facility records, including every high hurdles school record, in his possession. He finished the 2006 college season undefeated in every 55 hurdles, 60 hurdles and 110m hurdles race he finished, including prelims and finals, for a record of 18 wins in 18 complete races. In 2006, he broke the 24-year-old Univ. of Tennessee school record of Willie Gault and the SEC meet record (13.29) of two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell. Merritt won the 110m hurdles at the 2006 NCAA championships in 13.21 seconds, breaking Greg Foster's NCAA meet record of 13.22 in 1978 and lowering his own school record (13.22)--only National Track & Field Hall of Famer Renaldo Nehemiah from the University of Maryland has ever run faster at the collegiate level (13.00, May 6, 1979). While at Tennessee he won the Ed Murphey Award (for most outstanding performance) and Most Valuable Track Athlete Award in 2005. As a prep star in Georgia, Merritt was one of only eight hurdlers nationally named to USA Today's All-USA High School Team. During his senior year of high school, he went undefeated in the 110 hurdles. Merritt won the 2003 Georgia state 5A title in the 110m hurdles and took runner-up honors in the 300m hurdles. He also received Best Performance trophies at the 2003 5A Georgia state championships for running a 13.76 in the 110m hurdles and 36.71 in the 300m hurdles at the state meet.