April 26, 2014
PHILADELPHIA -- Sophomore Jake Blankenship defended his pole vault title in his his outdoor season debut Saturday at the Penn Relays.
In his first meet since being sidelined with a leg injury midway through the indoor season, Blankenship was champion again at Franklin Field in front of 49,000 spectators.
Blankenship won by cleaning 17 feet, 4.5 inches (5.30 meters) on his first attempt. His two teammates also placed in the top 10 with senior Chase Brannon finishing fourth (16-6.75/5.05m) and Michael Maira coming in ninth (16-0.75/4.90m).
Entering the weekend, Blankenship had no real expectations for the meet. The All-American won two indoor pole vault competitions in January before his injury. Now he has a baseline to judge his progress for the championship season ahead.
"I really didn't think I was going to be at this point, but with a lot of help from our training room, we really worked on what we could and I got back as fast as I could," Blankenship said. "I didn't know if I would be back competing for the outdoor season, but luckily I got back in time to jump a little bit."
Saturday proved successful for Tennessee's professional runners.
Chanelle Price continued her breakout 2014 season with another individual title. She won the 1500-meter run in 4 minutes, 31.68 seconds, by pushing ahead of second-place Stephanie Charnigo in the final 200 meters. Price made track headlines earlier this year by winning the 800 title at the IAAF indoor world championships.
Former Vol Justin Gatlin ran the second leg for the U.S. en route to a victory in the USA vs. the World men's 4x100 relay. The United States edged out Jamaica by one one-hundredth of a second in 38.57.
DeeDee Trotter, a former Lady Vol standout, ran on the winning U.S. 4x400 relay team. The United States pulled away for a victory in a time of 3:25.62.