Jan. 17, 2003
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Tennessee's third-ranked track and field squad turned in a good day's work to kick off the Kroger Invitational Friday in Virginia Tech's Rector Fieldhouse. When the snow settled, hurdler Jabari Greer landed fourth on Tennessee's all-time 60m hurdles list in his first time running the event while also posting a good NCAA provisional qualifier. Additionally, the Volunteers dominated the indoor early-season pentathlon and reserved plenty of lanes for Saturday's sprint and hurdle finals on the short track.
"We're off to a good start," head coach Bill Webb said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We have a lot of people qualified and even more going tomorrow."
On the track, Tennessee's sprinters and hurdlers had a powerful start in qualifying action, forwarding a trio in each event to Saturday's finals. Pulling double duty in the 60m hurdles and 60m dash, Greer showed no signs of difficulty. Posting a good provisional qualifier for the NCAA Indoors and the fourth-fastest time in school history behind Willie Gault, Dawane Wallace and teammate Karl Jennings, Greer sped to a 7.83 with the fourth-fastest qualifying time overall and fastest by a collegian in his first-ever 60m hurdles race. Meanwhile, Jennings also qualified easily with an 8.01 effort over the hurdles. Robert Boulware, another dual-sporter in his first 60m hurdles race, offered up a respectable 8.22 to advance to the finals.
In the 60m dash, the new grand old man of the sprint corps, junior Sean Lambert led the Vols with a 6.78 time, the second-fastest overall and fastest by a collegian in the prelims. Freshman Jonathan Wade clocked in at 6.81, the day's fourth-fastest overall and third-fastest time among collegians, to easily qualify for the finals. Likewise, Greer raced to a 6.89 finish to qualify ninth.
In the 600m dash, sophomore Frank Francois shook up Tennessee's all-time list in the event with his second-place, 1:20.75 time, the fourth-fastest in UT history. Francois and teammate Marc Sylvester comprise half of Tennessee's all-time top four in the 600m.
Tennessee's pentathletes shook the rust off in a big way by sweeping the top-two spots and placing all five Vols in the top seven in the 13-man field. While the Vol multieventers didn't do anything flashy, Webb felt they laid a good foundation for further preparation with regard to the crucial SEC Indoor Pentathlon at the end of February. Recently elected captain Stephen Harris led the way with a 4,110-point victory. Harris successfully navigated the 60m hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump and 1,000m run. Harris won the long jump with 23-9 1/2 leap. Meanwhile, the Norcross, Ga., native put up an 8.24 in the 60m hurdles, 41-5 3/4 in the shot put, 6-8 3/4 in the high jump and a 2:44.95 clocking in the 1,000m run.
"We didn't do as well as we wanted," Harris said. "But there's a lot of potential there for us. I did a lot of things well, but didn't hit all of my goals. All in all, it was a good beginning for us."
Kevin Thompson proved law school hasn't held his training back with a second-place, 3,981-point effort. Thompson's highlights came with a 52-5 1/2 heave in the shot put, more than two-feet farther than his previous lifetime best, and a 6-8 3/4 leap in the high jump. Blake Sabo took fifth with 3,602 points. Farragut native Kevin Yeager secured sixth with a 3,585 tally. Alex Hritcu wrapped up the Vol effort in seventh place with 3,552 points.
Meanwhile in other open events, newcomer Josh Whisman kept improving in the weight throw with his 58-6 3/4 measurement to earn third, the sixth-best mark ever by a Vol. Additionally, Knoxville Central product Jim Sexton's 49-11 3/4 effort stands as a lifetime best. Kenny Schappert pulled off a ninth-place, 2:30.84 finish -- the 10th-fastest time ever by a Vol.