March 11, 2013
NEW ORLEANS – University of Tennessee track & field athletes Jake Blankenship, Linda Hadfield and Nijgia Snapp, who all participated in the NCAA Indoor Championships over the weekend, have earned All-America acclaim, as confirmed by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association on Monday.
Blankenship, the SEC Freshman Field Athlete of the Year, earned First Team honors for his fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. The rookie had a remarkable indoor season, winning four individual pole vault titles and finishing as the runner-up at the SEC Championships. A high school All-American from Blacklick, Ohio, Blankenship capped his first indoor season with the Vols by clearing the first six heights on his first attempt and besting his own UT freshman record with a final vault of 18-feet, 4.5-inches (5.60m) at nationals.
His fourth-place mark was the best Vol vaulter finish at nationals since Laurence Johnson won the indoor title in 1996. Blankenship’s final vault of the indoor season ties him for second all-time in the UT record books with legendary Vol and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Tim Mack.
Now a four-time Indoor All-American, Snapp garnered Second Team honors for her 16th-place finish in the women’s 800-meter at nationals. Having previously earned the accolade in the distance medley relay and 4x400m relay, this is the first individual All-America award for the senior. Snapp posted a season’s best time of 2:05.97 to place third at the SEC Championships and earn the bid to nationals. Unfortunately, the Mays Landing, N.J., native was tripped-up trying to avoid a two-competitor pile-up in the prelims at NCAAs and was unable to qualify for the finals.
Hadfield, the school record holder in the women’s pole vault, was awarded Honorable Mention honors for her performance at nationals. A first-time indoor honoree, she punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships in thrilling fashion at a last chance meet. The junior went big at Virginia Tech, recording a double PR and besting her own school record with vaults of 13-7 (4.14m) and 13-11 (4.24m) to finish as the 11th-ranked vaulter in the country. At nationals, Hadfield was unable to record a height as she missed her three attempts at 13-1.5 (4.00m).
With one new addition to the club this season, Tennessee has now had 295 combined indoor and outdoor All-Americans in program history. Under Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. Clark, the Lady Vols and Vols have combined for 202 All-America certificates.
After using this week to prep for the outdoor season, Tennessee will be back in action for its first outdoor meet of the 2013 campaign from March 22-23, when it travels to Starkville, Miss., for the annual SEC/Big 10 Challenge. Representing the Big 10 will be Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin, while Mississippi State, Ole Miss and the Big Orange will carry the flag of the SEC.
For updates throughout the outdoor season, be sure to follow @Vol_Track on Twitter.