Walter is a senior on the track and field squad, specializing in distance. He has competed on the cross country team, as well as the indoor and outdoor track teams, all three seasons at UT. A Knoxville native who attended Bearden High School, Walter recently established a new personal-best in the men's 5000-meter run at the Tennessee Relays Powered by Sea Ray. With a time of 14:22.25, he broke his previous career-best by almost 30 seconds. Born this day in 1993, Walter is 22 years old today.
A sophomore from Adelaide, Australia, Schipanski is in the midst of his sophomore season on Rocky Top. He holds a singles record of 10-9 and a doubles mark of 13-6 through his first year with the program. This spring, he has secured a pair of ranked wins as he defeated No. 52 Jon Ho of Wake Forest and No. 39 Harrison Adams of Texas A&M. Tennessee men's tennis is in action this weekend at the SEC Championships in College Station, Texas. The Vols open play against Alabama at 12 p.m. ET.
A native of Temecula, California, Bawcombe is coming off a solid freshman season for Tennessee Volleyball in the fall of 2014. She appeared in 31 matches and made 17 starts on the year, logging two double-doubles and a team-high 17 service aces. Born this day in 1996, Bawcome is 19 years old today.
Out on the track, Blaase is having the best season of her career. In the fall, she became Tennessee's 10th cross country All-American after finishing 10th at the NCAA Championships. Blaase earned her second All-American award of the year during the indoor track and field season when she placed fourth in the women's 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. And just last week, Blaase broke her own school record in the 10,000 meter run at the Stanford Invitational, turning in a time of 32:28.39 that ranks second in the nation.
A junior member of the varsity rowing squad, Suffridge was a part of the Second Varsity Eight that finished third in the petite final at the 42nd annual San Diego Crew Classic. A local product out of Knoxville, Suffridge is majoring in in Speech Pathology and was a member of the 2014 spring SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Today is also the 40th birthday of former Tennessee and Major League pitcher Lincoln. He pitched just one season for UT back in 1996, going 6-4 with a 3.33 ERA before being drafted in the 13th round of the MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins. He made his big league debut on April 7, 1999, and continued on in the Bigs until 2010, making stops with the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and Cincinnati Reds.
During his first season with the Tennessee men's tennis program, Jones holds a singles record of 8-7 and a doubles mark of 2-2. The Warner Robins, Georgia, native opened his collegiate career with a ranked victory when he defeated No. 94 Alex Arovin of Tennessee Tech (6-1, 6-2) in the opening round of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships. Jones turns 19 years old today.
A five-star wide receiver from Hampton, Georgia, Williams became one of the newest members of Team 119 back on National Signing Day in February. He played his prep career at Lovejoy High School, where he was named first team All-State and earned an invitation to the 2015 Under Armour All-Star Game. He had 43 catches for 916 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior despite missing a portion of the year with a knee injury. Williams is 18 years old today.
From one of our newest Vols to one of our newest VFLs, defensive back Coleman wrapped up his UT career last fall with 157 career tackles and five career interceptions. Coleman was recently invited to the 2015 NFL Combine, where he recorded the fastest 3-cone drill time of any participant (6.61). He was also third among cornerbacks in both the bench press (20 reps) and the 60-yard shuttle (11.21). Today Coleman celebrates his 22nd birthday.
A defensive back for Vol football from 2002-06, Wade also starred on the track and field team, making his mark in the outdoor relays. His 4x100-meter relay team in 2003 recorded the program's second-fastest time in the event all-time. On the football field, he earned All-SEC honors in 2006 after leading Tennessee in pass deflections and interceptions. Wade was the 84th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, taken by the St. Louis Rams. He is 31 years old today.
One of Tennessee Basketball's all-time greats, Lofton was the 2007 SEC Player of the Year after leading the conference in scoring at 20.8 points per game. That year, he led the Volunteers to the Sweet 16 and was named a second team All-American. As a senior in 2007-08, Lofton passed Allan Houston to become UT's career-leader in three-pointers made, and not long after that, passed Pat Bradley of Arkansas to capture the record for most career treys all-time in the SEC. Following his collegiate career, Lofton went on to play professionally in Turkey, Spain, and Russia. He is currently under contract with Besiktas -- a Turkish team based out of Istanbul.
Happy birthday Jess, Preston, Justin, Jonathan, and Chris!
On the heels of this weekend's NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships -- and on the brink of the 2015 outdoor season, which begins on Thursday -- we have a quartet of Tennessee track and field birthdays to report on this day. Today we're celebrating the birthdays of junior thrower Cameron Brown, junior pole vaulter Jake Blankenship, freshman cross country and middle distance runner Drew Kelley, and VFL from the throws Aslynn Halvorson. Today is also the birthday of rowing's Natalie Tavares.
Brown is the 2015 SEC Indoor Champion in the men's weight throw after turning in a winning effort of 74 feet, 1.75 inches (22.60 meters) two weeks ago in Lexington. He was just the second Volunteer in the conference's history to win the event. He is also the current school record-holder in the men's weight throw, having broken Garland Porter's 11-year-old record with a throw of 76 feet, 8.50 inches (23.38) back in February.
Blankenship is blowing out the candles just two days removed from a silver-medal performance in the men's pole vault at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships. He set a new lifetime-best in the event with a vault of 19 feet, 0.25 inches (5.80 meters). That mark is the second-best in program history and also stands as the second-best mark for a runner-up finisher in NCAA history. He has earned indoor first team All-America honors for the second time in his career on Rocky Top.
Kelley is in the midst of his first season with the Tennessee track and field program, hailing from Roswell, Georgia. Just two weekend's ago, he set a new personal best in the mile at the 2015 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 4:21.12.
Halvorson competed in the throws for UT from 2010-14, notching marks in the indoor shot put and weight throw as well as the outdoor shot put, hammer throw, and discus. She ranks seventh all-time at UT in the outdoor shot put (52-5.5/15.99) and is ninth in the discus (169-9/51.75). She owns a degree in kinesiology from Tennessee.
A sophomore from Fonthill, Ontario, Tavares has logged two seasons with the varsity rowing squad. This season, she was part of the shell that placed fourth in Women's Cup 8+ at the Head of the Hooch race with a time of 16 minutes, 26.4 seconds. She earned gold during the women's 2- with partner Thomson behind a time of 21 minutes, 20.9 seconds. She is an accounting major at UT.
Happy birthday Cameron, Jake, Aslynn, and Natalie!
On March 12 we're celebrating the birthday of senior track and field athlete Julia Petree and new men's golf assistant coach Matt Henderson!
A native of nearby Maryville, Tennessee, Petree is gearing up for her senior outdoor track and field season. She has had a busy year thus far, competing in both cross country in the fall and indoor track and field during the winter months. Petree set a new personal-best in the indoor 600 meters during the Hokie Invitational with a time of 1:40.80. During her freshman season in 2012, she won the Indoor Lady Vol Freshman of the Year Award. She turns 22 years old today.
Henderson recently joined the men's golf staff as the Director of Instruction/Player Development. A native of Cheyenne, Wyoming, he earned his degree in golf management at UNLV and arrived on Rocky Top as one of the most sought after instructors in the state of Nevada. He was previously the head instructor at TPC Las Vegas Tour Academy.
A tight end, Creamer recently completed a redshirt season with Tennessee football -- his first with the program. Creamer came to Rocky Top from Wilmington, Delaware, as a three-star prospect at wideout. He was a second team all-state performer during his senior season.
Duer recently wrapped up her junior seasons in both cross country and indoor track and field and is now setting her sights on her redshirt sophomore outdoor track campaign. The Greenville, South Carolina, native competed in six races for UT cross country this fall, notching a career-best 6K time at the NCAA South Regional (22:34.50) and a personal-best 5K time at the Bluegrass Invitational (18:56.30). During the indoor season, she established a new PR in the mile at the Tyson Invitational (5:11.23).
A sophomore from Norcross, Georgia, DeShields is redshirting this season for Lady Vol basketball as per NCAA transfer rules. During her freshman season at North Carolina the 6-1 guard was named national freshman of the year and selected as an honorable mention All-American after averaging 18.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg, and 1.7 spg. She set four ACC freshman records, including points (648), field goals (248), and double-figure scoring games (32).
We've got three birthdays to celebrate on Rocky Top today as football newcomer Andrew Butcher, track and field's Amirah Johnson, and men's basketball VFL Tony F. White will all be blowing out the candles on February 15.
A four-star prospect at defensive end, Butcher is an early enrollee at Tennessee and has been on campus since January. Butcher is a native of Alpharetta, Georgia, and piled up 167 tackles and 23.5 sacks during his prep career. As a senior, he led Alpharetta H.S. to a region championship and a 10-2 record, recording a team-best 89 tackles and 18 sacks along the way. Butcher is 18 years old today.
A cross country and outdoor track and field senior, Johnson recently recorded a new career-best in the indoor 1000 meters (2:56.14). She has been a staple for the Volunteers in all three seasons of the track and field year: cross country, indoor, and outdoor. This fall she wrapped up her cross country career, finishing third on the team in five of her six races on the season. Today is Johnson's 22nd birthday.
VFL White played basketball at Tennessee from 1983-87 before being selected by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 1987 NBA draft. He went on to split time with the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors before seeing out the remainder of his playing career overseas. White's most memorable performance in the Orange and White came on Feb. 14, 1987 when he scored 51 points in leading the Vols past Auburn 103-84. That mark still stands as UT's single-game scoring record.
Happy Big Orange birthday, Andrew, Amirah, and Tony!
We've got three Big Orange birthdays to celebrate today! Sending out special birthday wishes to current track and field student-athlete Felecia Majors, as well as VFLs Inky Johnson (football) and Chessey Thomas (women's golf)!
A sophomore from Lorton, Virginia, Felecia Majors is coming off a freshman season in which she earned All-America honors in both the 200 meters and 400 meters during the indoor season. She is UT's current freshman record-holder in the 400 meters with a time of 52.65. In the outdoor season, Majors earned three top-20 finishes at her first SEC Outdoor Championships. The 2015 indoor season has seen Majors compete in the 60-meter dash, 200 meters, 300 meters, 400 meters, 500 meters, and long jump, not to mention the 4x400-meter relay and distance medley relay. Majors turns 20 years old today.
A 2013 SEC Football Legend, Inky Johnson played in 23 games for Tennessee at defensive back before his promising career was cut short by injury. He finished his career with 41 tackles, one sack, one interception, and 10 pass breakups. Using his story of overcoming adversity, Johnson has become a mentor and regarded public speaker for underprivileged youth in both Knoxville and his hometown of Atlanta.
Chessey Thomas graduated from the Tennessee women's golf program last year and concluded her career ranked eighth on the Lady Vols' all-time career low average list (75.15). She notched one tournament victory while on Rocky Top, taking the Lady Bulldog Individual on Feb. 8, 2014. For her career, Thomas posted 21 rounds of par or better, four top-10 finishes, and a career-low round of 66.
On Feb. 8, we're wishing a happy birthday to Chad Merzbacher of men's golf! A junior from Dublin, Ohio, Chad has recorded five top-10 finishes in in 21 career tournaments for the Volunteers. He competed in all five tournaments during UT's fall season, posting a team-best scoring average of 70.93 with nine rounds of par or better. Chad is 21 years old today.
A trio of VFLs are also celebrating birthdays today. We start by extending birthday wishes to Track & Field alumnus Chase Brannon! Chase was a two-time USTFCCCA All-American in the pole vault, earning the honor after both the indoor and outdoor seasons of 2012. He completed his eligibility in 2014 and turns 24 years old today.
Last but not least we wish a very happy birthday to the McKenzie brothers, Raleigh and Reggie! These two football VFLs are twin brothers who starred for the Vols in the early 1980s. Knoxville natives and Austin-East High School graduates, Reggie plyaed in 43 games during his time on Rocky Top, accumulating 174 tackles and four sacks before going on to play in the NFL from 1985-1992. Raleigh played three years for the Vols from 1982-84 as a center before moving on to the NFL and playing for Washington from 1985-94.
Reggie is the currently the general manager of the Oakland Raiders while Raleigh serves as a scout. Reggie's son, Kahlil, became one of the newest members of the Tennessee Football family during National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Shane Switzer of the Daily Beacon previews Tennessee Track & Field's competition at the VT Elite Meet this weekend. The meet gets underway on Friday night at 5 p.m. ET with Saturday's session beginning at 11 a.m. In all, 31 UT student-athletes will be in action this weekend, including four who rank inside the top 10 in NCAA Division I in their respective events: Jake Blankenship (pole vault), Cameron Brown (weight), Tavis Bailey (shot put), Cassie Wertman (shot put), and Christian Coleman (60m). The Tennessee men will also be competing as a ranked indoor team for the first time since 2009.
Check out Switzer's preview, published Friday in the Daily Beacon.