The third-ranked Tennessee men’s track and field team returns home this week to host the 42nd annual Sea Ray Relays. The meet, formerly known as the Dogwood Relays, runs Wednesday through Saturday at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.
“We look forward to an outstanding home meet,”?head coach Bill Webb said. “We have always done extremely well in front of our family, friends and past Vols and when we get to sleep in our own beds. We will honor an outstanding senior class Saturday. Our team has recorded many lifetime- and season-bests at this meet in the past. I’m predicting warm, sunny weather for our fans to come out and support the Tennessee Vols in our major home meet of the outdoor season.”
The 100, 200 and 400 boast strong fields in the sprints. The 100 features last year’s Sea Ray Relays champion Demi Omole, who competed at Wisconsin and now runs professionally, in addition to indoor All-Americas Adam Harris from Michigan and Tennessee’s Rubin Williams. The indoor national champion in the 200, Williams headlines the event that also includes teammate and fellow All-America honoree Evander Wells. Bershawn Jackson, the 2005 world outdoor champion in the 400, returns to Knoxville in an attempt to defend his title in the event from last year.
The 800, 1,500 and steeplechase could prove to be the most competitive events on the track, as meet records are in danger in each of the three. The 800 features 2003 NCAA champion Samuel Burley, as well as All-Americas Yarrick Kincaid of Tennessee and Abraham Mach of Central Michigan. 2006 USA indoor champion Chris Lukezic headlines the 1,500. The Georgetown alum finished the 2007 season ranked fourth in the US and was ranked second following the 2006 season. He is joined by three-time NCAA?champion and 2000 Olympic participant Kevin Sullivan and Pittsburgh’s All-America Sam Blair. Former Vol All-America Anthony Famiglietti leads a loaded field in the steeplechase. The 2004 Olympic participant, 2002 USA champion and 2001 Sea Ray champion is joined by 2002 and 2003 Sea Ray champion Jordan Desilets and 2005 Sea Ray champion Cory Nowitzke.
The field events offer plenty of excitement as well. The past two pole vault champions do battle as Tennessee’s All-America Michael Hogue looks to defend his title against a field that includes 2006 Sea Ray champion Brian Mondschein. In addition to the past two champions, Paul Babits, the 1989 and 1990 champion, returns for the 30th time to contest the pole vault at the Sea Ray Relays. 2007 triple jump champion Alonzo Moore also looks for a repeat victory in the event.
Five-time US champion A.G. Kruger headlines the hammer throw field. Kruger qualified for the 2004 Olympics and ended both the 2006 and 2007 seasons ranked first in the US. Three-time SEC champion and two-time All-America Leigh Smith, Tennessee’s school record and SEC meet record holder, takes top billing in the javelin field that also includes current UT All-America Matthew Maloney.
The Sea Ray Relays lives up to its name as seven different relay competitions take place this weekend. Competitions take place to find the fastest relay team in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800, 4x1,500, shuttle hurdle and distance medley relays.
This year’s Sea Ray Relays features 55 collegiate teams, including No.6 Georgia and No. 19 Louisville, along with SEC?foe Kentucky and in-state schools Chattanooga, East Tennessee State, Memphis and MTSU
In all, 10 former Vols are expected to return and compete at their former home stadium. Stephen Harris and Chris Helwick, the decathlon javelin meet record holder, bring their 11 combined All-America honors to take on the decathlon. Current volunteer coach and two-time All-America Jebreh Harris is entered in the 400 and 1,500. School record holder Jeff Day joins the monster field in the steeplechase and also is entered in the 1,500. Two-time All-America Garland Porter joins SEC?champion Jim Sexton in the hammer throw, while Patrick Gildea and Ben Lukowski tackle the 5,000.
The Sea Ray Relays begin Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time with the decathlon, which will conclude beginning at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Friday and Saturday feature complete days of competition on the track and in the field. Tennessee’s Senior Day is scheduled for Saturday at 11:45 a.m. Live results can be found throughout the meet at UTsports.com. Admission to the Sea Ray Relays is free.