Track and Field Vols Reload with 23 Newcomers

June 29, 2004


Tennessee added 23 newcomers for duty in the 2004-05 cross country/track and field season head coach Bill Webb announced Tuesday. The new recruits, some signing scholarship papers and others volunteering their services, fill holes in different event areas.
The majority of the Volunteers' newcomers boast championship experience, as 17 of the 23 have won at least one state high school individual title. The Tennessee coaching staff pulled in recruits from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, from New Jersey to California. Newcomers hail from as far south as Georgia and as far north as New York. Nine of the Volunteer State's best remain in-state to continue their collegiate careers. Tennessee welcomed three newcomers each from Georgia and West Virginia. New Jersey and North Carolina both contributed a pair to the Volunteers' class. The Vols boast one newcomer from California, New York, Ohio and Virginia.

"This is a really solid class that covers a lot of needs for us," Webb said. "We believe we have about five or six guys who can help immediately. I think there are several more ready to help right away in cross country. We're certainly most pleased with Rubin Williams and Zach Sabatino, the leaders of the group. Drew Brunson and Chris Martland are also very athletic and multitalented guys who should be able to help us in the jumps and sprints."

In the sprints, hurdles and short relays, Tennessee shored up its corps facing the departure of co-captain Sean Lambert and Jak Taylor. Sprint and hurdles coach Vince Anderson is charged with finding the best niche for each of the newcomers and preparing them for Tennessee's 4x100-meter and 4x400 relay pool. Anderson prizes versatility, and his new recruits will be expected to fill multiple roles. Williams headlines the group with impressive credentials in the short sprints. Williams has been racing against elite athletes in open competition for the last two years, including Maurice Greene, John Capel and former Vols Justin Gatlin and Leonard Scott.

Cade Liverman joins fellow North Carolina hurdler and current junior Robert Boulware on the Tennessee squad. Liverman could make an impact in both the 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles. Matthieu Pritchett also hails from the Tarheel State. Pritchett's specialty is the 100 and 200. He will likely be a candidate for 4x100 relay duty, too. Jonathan Dunham's specialty is the 400, but the native of the Buckeye State will also be counted on for duty in the 200 and on the 4x400 relay. Brunson is expected to contest the 400 hurdles and help pass the baton in the 4x400 relay.
No other group will be expected to hit the ground running sooner than the middle distance/distance newcomers. Distance coach George Watts must have most of them ready for the rigors of cross country competition beginning in early September. West Virginia transfer Sabatino should provide immediate help in the steeplechase/5,000 as Tennessee's most heralded distance signee. Fellow West Virginia transfer Tyler DeVault and Virginia native Steven Tobin are also expected to contribute in events ranging from the 1,500 to the 5,000. New York native Kyle Fiasconaro joins current Vols Paul Cross, co-captain Marc Sylvester and Frank Francois in what is becoming one of the nation's elite middle distance training groups. West Virginia transfer Ben Lukowski and Colorado transfer Matt Piccarello will race the 5,000/10,000.

Watts also welcomes a group of in-state distance/cross country specialists. Yarrick Kincaid probably ranks as the top in-state distance signee. Kincaid, a graduate of Karns High in Knoxville, joins Tennessee's impressive 800/1,500 training group. Bartlett native Trey Williamson, another state champion, takes up the 5,000/10,000 on the collegiate level. Tyler Johnson, a Furman transfer and Bearden High grad, expects to see action in the 800 and 1,500. Denton Jones, another Knoxville native and Webb High graduate, is tabbed for distance duty in the 5,000. Nick Raff, a Kingsport native and graduate of Chattanooga's McCallie, tries his hand at the 800/1,500.

Webb offset high jumper Brett Frykberg's departure to medical school by signing a couple of leapers from the Peach State. Herbie Baines looks to improve on his 7-foot career best, a height that usually lands in the scoring column at the SEC championships. Brunson, also a 400 hurdler, has cleared 6-10. Although primarily a pole vaulter, Chris Buck of Nashville will also get decathlon training.
Anderson, also horizontal jumps tutor, added two prospects. Akeem Hardnett of Fayetteville, Ga., has measured a 48-8 1/4 leap in the triple jump, the best mark on the Tennessee roster. Hardnett will also train for the 100. Additionally, Jason Mershon, brother of former Vol Rondell Mershon, joins the squad as a long jump/triple jump specialist. Mershon hails from Cordova, Tenn., but attended Wallace Community College last year without competing in track and field.

Webb, also the throws coach, signed Ell Ash and Richard Wooten for their aptitude in the shot put and discus. Ash, a New Jersey native, continues Tennessee's track and field/football dual-sport tradition. Wooten stands as the most highly touted in-state signee. The Memphis native hopes to put his brand on the Tennessee shot put and discus efforts.

Webb, one of the nation's foremost decathlon teachers, added Martland and Buck to offset the loss of NCAA qualifier Blake Sabo. Martland, a Farragut High grad, has one season remaining after graduating from Belmont University in Nashville. Another in-state arrival, Buck spent his high school days at Brentwood Academy.

The incoming class will be counted on to contribute immediately. The newcomers have a good model to follow in that regard, as the 2004 freshman signing class led the Tennessee track and field squad in scoring at both the SEC and NCAA outdoor championships.

"We also redshirted at least five guys who can make an immediate impact at the SEC level for us this year," Webb said. "We believe Jangy Addy [decathlon], Andy Baksa [distance], Michael Hogue [pole vault] and Eric Pierce [triple jump] could have scored this year [2004] in the SEC championships. We were patient with them, and I think the redshirt year will pay big dividends. Although we wanted those points they could offer this season, we're glad now we redshirted them and will have that year to look forward to. They're legitimate scorers at the conference level now."
A short profile on each newcomer follows.

2004 Track and Field Signees
Ell Ash, Freshman, Shot put, 6-5, 273, Willingboro, N.J. (Willingboro High)
The newest member of Tennessee's dual-sport, track/football tradition ... Won 2004 New Jersey state high school title with 58-10 1/2 shot put mark and took fourth in the discus with a 169-8 measurement ... Posted one of the top 15 indoor shot put marks in the nation this year with a 59-11 toss in January 2004 ... Member of the Willingboro honor roll and named to the all-South Jersey academic all-star team.
Herbie Baines, Freshman, High jump, 6-1, 185, Douglasville, Ga. (Chapel Hill High)
High jumper has reached watershed 7-0 barrier in his career-best leap, tied for the fifth-best nationally by a high schooler in 2004 ... Won 2004 Georgia state 4A title in high jump with a 6-10 clearance ... Team won 2004 state, region and county championship ... Led squad in points scored ... Elected to Chapel Hill Hall of Fame ... Also played basketball, where he averaged 19 points and seven rebounds a game as a senior.
Drew Brunson III, Freshman, 400 hurdles/high jump, 6-0, 170, Snellville, Ga. (Shiloh High)
Won state high jump title in 2003 at the Georgia Olympics XXXI in the 5A division ... Took second in the high jump, third in the 300 hurdles and eighth in the 400 in the 5A division of the 2004 Georgia Olympics XXXII ... Owns best times of 38.02 in the 300 hurdles and 48.3 in the 400 dash ... Achieved his best high jump clearance of 6-10 at a high school meet on Tennessee's Tom Black Track ... Named 2003 Boy's Field Performer of the Year by the Gwinnett Daily Post ... Selected to the 2003 Metro Atlanta first team by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ... Named Man of the Year by the Atlanta Track Club in 2003 ... Named to Gwinnett's County's All-County first team in 2002, `03 and `04 ... Rated inclusion on Georgia's high school track and field honor roll in 2002, `03 and `04 ... Varsity letterman all four years of high school.
Tyler DeVault, Sophomore, Steeplechase/1,500, 6-3, 170, Fairmont, W.Va. (West Virginia)
Transferred to Tennessee after West Virginia cut its program ... Raced to top collegiate times of 8:56.0 in the steeplechase, 8:31 in the 3,000 and 3:55.2 in the 1,500 ... Finished third in the steeplechase with a 9:03.72 time at the 2003 Big East outdoor championships ... Ran in every race during the 2002 cross country season at West Virginia as a freshman ... Finished fifth at the Hillbilly Classic and 29th at the Penn State Invitational in 2002 ... Attended East Fairmont High in Fairmont, W.Va., where he helped his team to runner-up honors in the 2001 state cross country meet ... Won two West Virginia state high school cross country championships ... Captain of high school track, cross country, golf and basketball teams ... Averaged seven points and nine rebounds a game during his senior basketball season ... Averaged 81 strokes per round on high school golf team ... High school track team finished ninth at state meet and runner-up in the conference.
Jonathan Dunham, Freshman, 400/200, 6-3, 180, Wheelersburg, Ohio (Wheelersburg High)
Won the 400 championship at the 2004 Ohio state meet with a 48.89 time ... Also finished fifth in the 200 (22.72) and led off the sixth-place 4x400 relay at the 2004 state meet ... Boasts top 400 time of 47.62 and top 200 time of 22.3.
Kyle Fiasconaro, Freshman, 800, 6-0, 150, Commack, N.Y. (Commack High)
Two-time New York state champion in the 1,000 ... Earned All-America honors in the 800 in both 2003 and `04 ... Tabbed all-state in cross country in 2002 and `03 ... Three-time Suffolk County champion in the 1,000 dating from 2002 to `04 ... Also claimed Suffolk County championships in the 600 and 4x800 relay in 2004 ... Achieved top times of 1:54.2 in the 800, 2:29.4 in the 1,000 and 9:14.18 in the 3,200 ... Part of a string of five consecutive cross country teams which rated all-league ... Team won three consecutive division championships.
Akeem Hardnett, Freshman, Triple jump/100, 5-9, 150, Fayetteville, Ga. (Woodward Academy)
Continually improved his place and triple jump distance at Georgia state championships ... Won 2004 Georgia 4A state title in the triple jump with a 48-8 1/4 leap ... Named to Atlanta all-metro team in 2004 ... Finished second in the triple jump with a 47-7 1/2 measurement at the 2003 Georgia 4A state championships ... Took third in the triple jump with a 46-4 1/2 mark at the 2002 Georgia 4A state championships ... Holds Woodward Academy school record in the triple jump with lifetime-best leap of 48-8 1/4 ... Boasts top 100 time of 10.9 ... Team took regional runner-up honors in 2001 ... Team finished fifth at the 2002 Georgia state meet.
Cade Liverman, Freshman, 110 hurdles/400 hurdles, 6-1, 170, Fairview, N.C. (A.C. Reynolds High)
Swept 2004 North Carolina state 4A 110 hurdles (14.41 against a headwind) and 300 hurdles (38.00) high school championship ... Won indoor state 55 hurdles titles in 2003 and 2004 with 7.40 and 7.34, respectively ... Top 55 hurdles time ranked second nationally among all 2004 high school times ... Finished runner-up with a 35.75 time in the 300 dash at the 2004 indoor state high school championships ... Achieved career top times of 13.87 in the 110 hurdles and 37.6 in the 300 hurdles ... Graduated with a 4.2 GPA ... Attended North Henderson High as a freshman and sophomore and A.C. Reynolds High junior and senior years ... Raced to school records in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4x400 relay at North Henderson and 300 hurdles, 200 and 4x200 relay at A.C. Reynolds.
Matthieu Pritchett, Freshman, 100/200, 5-8, 165, Candler, N.C. (Enka High)
Claimed double sprint titles with wins in the 100 (10.78) and 200 (21.55) at the 2004 North Carolina 3A state high school championships ... Finished second in the 200 with a 22.14 time at the 2003 state championships ... Named All-West North Carolina and all-conference his sophomore through senior seasons ... Earned all-state honors as a junior ... Helped Enka to runner-up team finish in 2002 and fifth in 2004 at North Carolina state high school championships.
Zach Sabatino, Junior, Steeplechase/5,000, 6-1, 150, Charleston, W. Va. (West Virginia)
Perhaps Tennessee's most heralded distance newcomer ... Transferred to Tennessee after West Virginia cut its program ... Earned silver in the steeplechase after clocking an 8:56.66 at the 2003 Big East outdoor championships ... Finished sixth in the 10,000 (30:20.82) at the 2002 USA junior championships ... Finished fourth in the 2002 USA Winter Cross Country Junior Championships with an 8K time of 25:16 ... Qualified for 2002 world cross country junior championships in Dublin, Ireland ... Led West Virginia and finished 13th at the 2002 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Cross Country Regional Championships after clocking a 31:03.1 time on the 10K course ... Helped West Virginia win the 2003 IC4A outdoor team title ...Won the 3,000 with a time of 8:08.84 at the 2004 Virginia Tech Last Chance Indoor Meet ... Finished sixth in the championship section of the steeplechase after running an 8:55.72 at the 2003 Penn Relays ... Member of athletic director's academic honor roll at West Virginia ... Boasts top times of 8:08.24 in the 3,000, 8:55.72 in the steeplechase, 14:19.64 in the 5,000 and 30:20.82 in the 10,000 ... Finished fifth in the West Virginia Cross Country Invitational as a freshman in 2001 ... Claimed 3,200 title at 2001 West Virginia state high school championships ... Earned multiple all-state honors.
Steven Tobin, Freshman, 1,500/5,000, 5-8, 138, Springfield, Va. (West Springfield High)
Won 2003 Virginia state high school cross country championship as a senior after running a 15:46 to earn all-state acclaim ... Nabbed all-south honors after running a 15:25 at the 2003 Foot Locker South cross country meet ... Named all-region after finishing fourth in 15:16 at the 2003 cross country region meet ... Named to all-met cross country first team by Washington Post ... Won the Patriot District cross country meet in 15:22 to earn all-district honors ... Won the 5K Salesianum Cross Country Invitational in 16:32, the fifth-fastest finish ever ... In track, earned 2004 indoor and outdoor district titles in the 3,200 ... Named West Springfield High's team captain for cross country, indoor and outdoor track as a senior ... Also earned all-state honors in cross country in 2001 and `02, as a sophomore and junior ... Earned 2003 indoor All-America honors by running the 800 leg of the winning distance medley relay at the Nike Indoor Championships ... Boasts top times of 9:33.02 in the 3,200 and 4:27.59 in the 1,600 ... West Springfield High is also alma mater of Tennessee rising sophomore Jeff Day.
Rubin Williams, Freshman, 100/200, 5-9, 155, San Jose, Calif. (Valley Christian High)
Tennessee's most heralded sprint signee ... Tabbed an immediate impact signee by Tennessee coaching staff ... Four-time high school All-America honoree ... Finished fourth in the 200 courtesy of a 20.90 timing at the 2002 world junior championships in Kingston, Jamaica ... Nabbed second in the 200 (21.61) and sixth in the 100 (10.53) at the 2002 USA junior championships ... Swept the sprints at the 2002 Simplot Games, the nation's largest high school indoor meet, with a 6.72 time to best the 112-runner field in the 60 and a 20.92 time to top the field of 96 in the 200 ... Finished second in his senior year in both the 100 (10.72) and 200 (20.92) at the 2002 California state high school championships ... Finished 2002 with the nation's fifth-best high school 200 time (20.84) and ninth-best high school 100 time (10.42) ... San Jose, Calif., native attended Oak Grove High as a freshman in 1999 before transferring to Valley Christian High for the remainder of high school career ... Graduated from high school in 2002 but spent the last two years training and competing unattached in open competition ... Finished 11th in the 200 with a 21.45 time at the 2003 USA indoor championships, in a field featuring top collegians and professionals ... Took 13th in the 200 with a 20.87 time against a field of professionals at the 2003 USA outdoor championships ... Won the 60 with a 6.73 time at the 2004 United Heritage Classic ... Notched a pair of third-place finishes at the 2004 Modesto Relays in the 100 (10.26) and 200 (20.83), behind 200 winner and former Vol Leonard Scott ... Finished seventh in the 100 with a time of 10.42 at the 2004 Payton Jordan U.S. Open against heavy hitters Maurice Greene, former Vol Justin Gatlin, John Capel and Scott.
Trey Williamson, Freshman, 1,500/5,000, 6-2, 140, Bartlett, Tenn. (Bartlett High)
Won 2003 Tennessee state high school 3A cross country championship in 15:18 ... Finished eighth at 2002 state high school 3A cross country meet after running a 15:48 ... At 2004 state high school 3A track championships, took fourth in the 3,200 (9:44.88) and fifth in the 1,600 (4:34.28) ... Holds school records in the two-mile run, three-mile run and distance medley relay ... Named all-state in 2003 and `04 ... Earned Best of Preps nods in 2001, `02 and `03 ... Named MVP of 2004 Germantown Classic ... Boasts top times of 4:29.0 in the 1,600 and 9:36.31 in the 3,200 ... Helped lead Bartlett High to region cross country titles in 2001 and `02 ... Team finished third at state cross country meet in 2002 and fourth in 2001 ... Bartlett High took 2001 Wildcat Cross Country Invitational championship in Pensacola, Fla.
Richard Wooten, Freshman, Shot put/discus, 6-4, 245, Memphis, Tenn. (Christian Brothers High)
Likely the most highly touted in-state signee and thrower of class ... Took shot put title with a 59-8 1/2 effort at 2004 Tennessee state high school division II championships, in addition to placing fifth in the discus (132-0) ... At 2003 state high school meet, finished second in the shot put (55-2) and fourth in the discus (138-3) ... Earned fourth in the shot put at the 2002 state meet with a 50-3 measurement ... Boasts personal bests of 59-9 1/2 in the shot put and 146-2 in the discus ... Helped Christian Brothers secure the regional title ... Earned all-metro and all-state honors in football.
Other Commitments
Chris Buck, Freshman, Pole vault/decathlon, 5-10, 155, Nashville, Tenn. (Brentwood Academy)
Double winner in the 2004 Tennessee state high school division II championships with titles in the 110 hurdles (15.17) and pole vault (14-0) ... Took second in the 2004 state division II decathlon ... Points helped Brentwood Academy secure team division II title at 2004 state meet ... Owns best marks of 15-0 in the pole vault, 22-5 in the long jump and 15.02 in the 110 hurdles.
Tyler Johnson, Junior, 800/1,500, 6-1, 155, Knoxville, Tenn. (Furman)
Transferred from Furman ... Owns top times of 1:53.40 in the 800 and 3:55.0 in the 1,500 ... Named Furman's co-MVP for track and field in 2004 ... Ran anchor leg on school-record 4x800 and 4x1,500 relays at the 2004 Clemson Relays ... Achieved lifetime-best 800 time of 1:53.40 courtesy of a third-place finish in the 800 at the 2004 Southern Conference championships ... Won the 800 at the Furman Invitational track meet with a time of 1:53.90 ... Led Furman's 2004 squad with a 3:58.25 time in the 1,500 ... Helped lead Paladins to the Furman Invitational cross country title after running a 26:18.93 to earn seventh ... Attended Bearden High in Knoxville ... Took silver at the 2001 Tennessee state high school cross country championships with a 15:20.16 time.
Denton Jones, Freshman, 5,000, 5-10, 149, Knoxville, Tenn. (Webb High)
Finished second in the 2003 Tennessee division II state high school cross country championship after running the course in 15:09 ... Placed sixth in the 2002 division II state high school cross country championship with a 15:30 time ... Boasts a top three-mile cross country time of 14:58 ... Ran a career-best time of 9:43.92 in the 3,200.
Yarrick Kincaid, Freshman, 800/1,500, 6-0, 148, Knoxville, Tenn. (Karns High)
Tennessee's top in-state distance signee ... Won 2004 Tennessee state high school 3A titles in the 800 (1:55.49) and 1,600 (4:24.45) ... Earned all-state acclaim in cross country ... Posted sixth (16:00) and seventh-place finishes (15:47) at the 2003 and 2002 Tennessee state 3A high school cross country championships, respectively ... Holds top times of 1:53.9 in the 800 and 4:23.02 in the 1,600.
Ben Lukowski, Sophomore, 5,000, 6-2, 160, St. Albans, W.Va. (West Virginia)
Transferred to Tennessee after West Virginia cut its program ... Ran in all six cross country races as a freshman in 2002 ... Finished fourth at the Hillbilly Classic as a freshman ... Ran top times of 8:32.0 in the 3,000 and 14:35.59 in the 5,000 ... Attended St. Albans High before signing with West Virginia ... Finished third at the 2001 West Virginia high school cross country championships ... Placed second in the mile and 3,200 at the 2002 West Virginia high school track championships.
Chris Martland, Senior, Decathlon, 6-1, 175, Knoxville, Tenn. (Belmont)
Graduate of Belmont University ... Plans to enroll in graduate school and compete for Tennessee in his final year of athletic eligibility ... Owns best decathlon score of 6,858 ... Won decathlon championship at the 2003 Alabama Relays after summing 6,744 points ... Named the Atlantic Sun Conference's Most Outstanding Male Performer at the 2003 league championships ... Holds two school records in the long jump (23-3) and high jump (6-5 1/2) ... Posted bests of 10.87 in the 100, 23-2 3/4 in the long jump, 6-8 1/4 in the high jump and 181-0 in the javelin ... Scored in seven events at the conference championships, placing second in the 100 and long jump and third in the triple jump ... Competed at Farragut High before signing with Belmont ... Member of state championship 4x400 relay in 2000 ... Took fourth in the decathlon at the 2000 Tennessee state high school championships ... Named All-Knoxville twice.
Jason Mershon, Freshman, Long jump/triple jump, 5-10, 180, Cordova, Tenn. (Wallace CC)
Transfer from Wallace Community College, though he did not compete there, helps fill a need in the horizontal jumps ... Won 2000 Tennessee state 3A high school long jump title with 21-10 mark while competing for Cordova High... Finished third at 2001 state 3A high school meet with a 21-8 1/2 mark in the long jump ... Owns bests of 23-7 in the long jump and 46-7 in the triple jump ... Brother of former Vol Rondell Mershon, whose 51-11 career-best leap stands sixth on Tennessee's all-time triple jump list.
Matt Piccarello, Freshman, 1,500/5,000, 5-11, 135, Pinton Falls, N.J. (Colorado)
Transfer from Colorado joins Vols distance corps ... Ran to best 3,200 time of 9:24.0 ... Seventh in the 10,000 at 2004 USA junior championships ... Competed at Red Bank Catholic High in New Jersey ... Placed eighth in the 3,200 with a 9:42.62 at the 2003 New Jersey Indoor Meet of Champions ... Took 14th in the 3,200 with a 9:30.90 time at the 2003 New Jersey Outdoor Meet of Champions.
Nick Raff, Freshman, 800/1,500, 6-0, 155, Kingsport, Tenn. (McCallie High)
Finished fifth in the 1,600 with a time of 4:25.70 at the 2004 Tennessee state division II high school championships ... Kingsport native helped propel Chattanooga's McCallie High to a runner-up finish at the state meet and region and Chattanooga city/county championships ... Clocked top times of 1:58.89 in the 800 and 4:24.20 in the 1,600.



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