Jan. 22, 2005
Tennessee's track and field newcomers set the pace during Saturday competition at ETSU's Niswonger Invitational and the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev. True freshman Matthieu Pritchett led all Volunteers with a career-best runner-up finish in the 60-meter finals on the oversized track in the Memorial Center in Johnson City, Tenn.
"Both Zach Sabatino and Andy Baksa opened up solid in the mile against a good field," head coach Bill Webb said. "I'm pleased with Jacob Dennis' big improvement in the 400. Matthieu Pritchett did a nice job in the 60 finals. We did rest several of our top people. We'll get some people back next week at Penn State, our first highly competitive meet with our whole team together."
Pritchett's lifetime-best 6.85-second time to earn silver in the 60 proved to be the most improbable of all the Tennessee finishes. The freshman from Enka-Candler, N.C., was so close to the winner that the race had to be broken into thousandths of seconds, rather than the customary hundredths. The photo finish revealed Pritchett finished 15/10,000ths of a second behind champion Chauncey Harris of Alabama.
Perhaps the most interesting part of equation is that Pritchett didn't qualify for the finals after he placed 11th in Friday's preliminaries with a 6.86 time. Several finalists scratched to give Pritchett an opportunity to bump up to the finals.
Though not a newcomer, sophomore Jacob Dennis updated his season best with a third-place, 48.39 in the 400 to strengthen his team lead in the event.
After a fruitful cross country season, track newcomers Zach Sabatino and Andy Baksa dropped down in distance to notch a solid opener in the mile. Sabatino finished third in 4:12.30. Baksa, a Farragut alum, took ninth in 4:16.51. Both Sabatino and Baksa will likely bump up to the 3,000 or 5,000 as the indoor season progresses.
Ell Ash, the newest member of Tennessee's dual sport track/football tradition, finished sixth with a shot put mark of 49 feet, 11 inches in his first outing for the Vols. The last defensive lineman to throw shot for Tennessee was Darwin Walker, whose Philadelphia Eagles are awaiting the NFL's NFC championship game Sunday. Walker earned All-America honors for Tennessee in 1998. Walker's 61-2 lifetime-best mark in the shot put stands seventh on Tennessee's all-time list in the event.
Newcomer Eric Pierce took 12th in the long jump with a 23-0 distance.
The 2005 Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev., featured about 60 different men's and women's competitions and approximately 2,000 overall competitors, according to volunteer coach Jim Bemiller, who was a keynote speaker at the event. Organizers set up 11 pole vault pits in the ballroom of the Reno Hilton.
Official results and places are not available from meet organizers, but redshirt freshman Michael Hogue took over the team lead in the pole vault after clearing 16-7 at the Pole Vault Summit, according to reports given to Webb. Three different Vols have held the pole vault team lead after Hogue edged out Andy Lane (16-6 3/4), who topped Jeff Trembley's early season 16-1 3/4 clearance. Lane leaped 15-11 Saturday. Illness forced Trembley to scratch from the competition.
Tennessee's coaching staff anticipates sending a full squad to the Penn State Invitational and Heptathlon Friday and Saturday.
Niswonger Invitational, Johnson City, Tenn.
Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005
1. Chauncey Harris, Ala. 6.85
2. Matthieu Pritchett, Tenn. 6.85 PR
1. Ricardo Chambers, Fla. St. 46.79*
3. Jacob Dennis, Tenn. 48.39 SB
1. Matthew Kerr, Unatt. 4:06.86
3. Zach Sabatino, Tenn. 4:12.30
9. Andy Baksa, Tenn. 4:16.51
1. Miguel Pate, Nike 25-10 3/4 **
12. Eric Pierce, Tenn. 23-0
1. Zeb Sion, Ga. Tech 58-2
6. Ell Ash, Tenn. 49-11
Pole Vault Summit, Reno, Nev.
Saturday, Jan. 22, 2005
SB-season best mark; PR-personal record/career best;
*-NCAA indoor provisional qualifier; **-NCAA indoor automatic qualifer.