Jan. 18, 2003
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- With only two meets in the rear view mirror, Tennessee's third-ranked track and field squad has begun authoring its NCAA Indoor Championships qualifying list. The Volunteers, courtesy of triumphs by pole vaulter Rocky Danners, 60m man Jonathan Wade and 400m specialist turned 200m man Gary Kikaya, added three more names to the provisional qualifier list Saturday at the Kroger Invitational held in Virginia Tech's Rector Fieldhouse.
"We competed extremely well with our top-end guys," head coach Bill Webb said. "We got a good look at a lot of people. The people we expected to run well did. A number of our distance runners will open up next week with the six-team SEC scored meet at Kentucky. We'll look for a little more depth then."
Danners captured victor's laurels in the pole vault with a season-best, NCAA provisional clearance of 17-6 1/2, nearly a 10-inch improvement from last week's effort on the home runway. Danners managed a healthy attempt at the 18-feet barrier before bowing out of the competition.
Wade continued improvement in his young track career with a lifetime-best time of 6.70 to secure the 60m dash finals title. Wade's effort stands as the sixth-fastest 60m dash time ever by a Volunteer. The rookie speedster from Shreveport, La., finds himself in good company on the all-time list with teammate Sean Lambert, fourth with a 6.65, and Justin Gatlin, second with a 6.54. Meanwhile, besides Wade, the 60m dash has been good for other dual-sporters as Leonard Scott holds the school record at 6.48, Sam Graddy stands third at 6.63 and Terry McDaniel holds down fifth at 6.66.
In other 60m dash action, Lambert posted a season-best, 6.73 clocking, just one-hundredth of a second off the provisional standard, to garner second place. Jabari Greer opted not to compete in the 60m dash finals as a training decision.
Kikaya, the NCAA Outdoor 400m champion last year, dropped down a notch to win the 200m dash in 21.23. Despite the 200m being his first competitive race since June, Kikaya ran to a NCAA Indoor provisional qualifier in his season-opening race.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee hurdle corps put together a good finals, as well. Greer posted his second-provisional mark in as many days with a 7.89 to take fifth in the 60m hurdles, second among collegians. While his 7.83 in Friday night's prelims proved faster, Greer's ability to run consecutive solid races shows promise. Karl Jennings shaved time off his prelim effort with a 7.96 clocking in the 60m hurdles finals to take seventh, fourth among collegians. Jennings' 7.96 just missed the provisional qualifier cutoff by one-hundredth of a second. Additionally, newcomer Robert Boulware continued his development with a lifetime-best 8.03 timing, a two-tenths of a second improvement compared to his prelim time, to take ninth overall and sixth among collegians.
In the field, newcomer Josh Whisman took ninth in the shot put with a 49-10 measurement. In the 400m dash, senior Dwayne Bell Jr. opened up at 48.91 in 11th. In the Vols' only distance foray Saturday, Ed Davis led the Vols with an 11th-place, 8:39.90 finish in the 3,000m run.
As Webb mentioned, the stakes only increase next Saturday at the SEC Eastern Division Championships, plus Auburn. Six teams from the toughest conference in the land line up in the first team-scored affair of the season in Lexington, Ky.