Feb. 5, 2005
Tennessee's sprinters and hurdlers swept their events under the bright lights in New York, N.Y., late Friday night at the fifth annual New Balance Collegiate Invitational at the Armory in New York, N.Y. After a day of qualifying success and maximizing scoring opportunities, the Volunteers find themselves in the middle of the team race at the venerable Armory in Manhattan.
In the 60 meters, Tennessee hogged three of six finals lanes as Rubin Williams won in 6.73 seconds. Aries Merritt broke the tape in a season-best, NCAA provisional-qualifying 7.75 to win the 60 hurdles. Unofficially, Tennessee racked up 42 points in the first day of the team-scored competition.
"I think we'll be in the thick of things tomorrow," head coach Bill Webb said. "We started off really strong. We're competing, qualifying well and put some points on the board. We're looking forward to a strong second day."
For preliminary competitors in the 60 and 60 hurdles, meet officials dangled the opportunity to run the finals at the 98th Millrose Games, one of the most revered U.S. indoor meets, in Madison Square Garden. The Tennesseans sprinted to take advantage of the opportunity.
In the 60 prelims earlier Friday in the Armory, Williams and Jonathan Wade sewed up lanes in the finals with 6.79 efforts. Freshman Matthieu Pritchett gave the Vols a lock on half the six finals lanes with his 6.84 prelim qualifier, assuring the Tennesseans a robust point haul in the event. The Vols didn't disappoint in the finals at Madison Square Garden. Sandwiched between professional races being taped for NBC broadcast Saturday from 2-3:30 p.m., Tennessee's short sprinters took the top two and three of the top five spots. Williams won in 6.73. Wade took second in 6.78, running his second season-best 60 time of the day. Pritchett's fifth-place 6.84 rewrote his career best. Williams, Wade and Pritchett combined to score 22 points for the team race.
In the 60 hurdles prelims, Aries Merritt ran a 7.80 to author the fastest preliminary time at the Armory. In the final at Madison Square Garden, Merritt edged out George Mason's Richard Phillips by one-hundredth of a second to take the win in 7.75, a season best and provisional qualifier.
He nearly had orange company in his specialty in the finals, as co-captain Robert Boulware covered the hurdles in 8.02. When the time was rounded to the standard hundredths of a second, Boulware stood tied for sixth. However, to decide who would get the sixth and last spot in the 60 hurdles finals at the Millrose Games, meet officials had to break the time to thousandths of a second, which pushed Boulware to seventh and a spot in the finals in the Armory Saturday instead. In the prelims, freshman Drew Brunson finished in 8.09, a lifetime best. Damond Campbell clocked in at 8.13. Freshman Cade Liverman finished in 8.16.
In the long jump, Eric Pierce placed fourth with a lifetime-best 24-1 mark to score for the Vols. Knoxville Central alum Jim Sexton added yet another season-best mark as he creeps up on the provisional qualifying standard in the weight throw. Throwing across town at Manhattan College, Sexton's fourth-place, 59-7 3/4 effort continues his streak of improving in all five meets this season.