April 23, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Following the removal of 2012 marks from the rankings formula, the Volunteer track & field team has landed in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association top 25 for the first time in three years, making the week's fourth-largest jump to No. 20 in the nation.
The Vols leaped 15 places from to 20th with 91.58 total points. Tennessee last checked in on the national rankings just over three years ago, coming in at No. 23 on April 20, 2010. It's the highest ranking for the Vols under the guidance of Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. Clark, and overall since sitting at No. 11 on March 5, 2009.
"This is just the beginning phase for the men to be ranked in the top 20," said Clark. "We're striving to get even higher. The good thing is all the guys that are in the top 10 or top 20 are returning next year. Our goal is always to continue to get better. This is just a start, and in my mind, it must be automatic to be in the top 10 or 20. It's good for our program and I look forward to continued improvement as we move forward."
Led by field athletes Matthew Hoty and Jake Blankenship, Tennessee currently has seven competitors and one relay ranked in the top 50 on the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Qualifying List. Hoty, a shot put specialist, checks in at No. 3 on the list with his Sea Ray Relays winning and lifetime best push of 62-feet, 8.25-inches (19.12m). With a mark of 18-4.75 obtained at the Texas Relays, Blankenship ranks fourth in the nation in the men's pole vault.
Blankenship leads a group of three Vol vaulters ranked in the top 25. Juniors Chase Brannon (17-7/5.36m) and Tyler Porter (17-5/5.31m) currently sit 16th and 24th in the country, respectively. Thrower Tavis Bailey is listed twice on the national top-50 list, coming in at eighth in the discus (195-3/59.51m) and 49th in the shot put (57-5.75/17.52m).
Tennessee's 4x100-meter relay, which placed seventh at last season's NCAA Outdoor Championships and earned First Team All-America honors, all returned for the 2013 campaign. With Reggie Juin leading off, Arnez Hardnick running the anchor and Jamol James and Jarael Nelvis to fill the middle slots, the squad currently sits 11th in the nation with a season-best time of 39.75 seconds. James also ranks 49th in the men's 100m dash with a time of 10.43w.
Freshman javelin thrower Kyle Quinn also adds depth to the Volunteer point total, as he currently ranks 21st in the nation with a lifetime best throw of 227-feet, 6-inches (69.35m). Quinn hit that mark when he won the event at the Pepsi Florida Relays this season.
Eight Southeastern Conference teams are represented in the top 25, with defending NCAA Champion Florida, Texas A&M and Arkansas sitting first, second and third, respectively. Georgia (No. 7) and LSU (No. 10) are also in the top 10, while Ole Miss (No. 16) and Alabama (No. 19) sit just in front of the Vols.
The Orange and White is back in action this week at the 119th Penn Relays at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa., from April 25-27. The 14th edition of the USA vs. The World competition will be broadcast live on NBC on Saturday, April 27 from 1-3 p.m. ET. An additional two hours of coverage will be shown on the same day on Universal Sports from 3-5 p.m. ET. A small contingent of Vols and Lady Vols will also travel to Birmingham, Ala., to compete in the Samford Open.