Vols Stand in Second at SEC Indoors

Feb. 26, 2005


Feb. 26, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.-- Tennessee stands second with 36 points at the SEC indoor championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark., after scoring 17 points each in the heptathlon and weight throw and a couple in the high jump. Garland Porter broke his own school record yet again with a second-place, 69-6 ¼ effort in the weight throw.

Pre-meet favorite Arkansas leads the meet with 43 points.

"We had a very good day," head coach Bill Webb said. "Scoring 17 points in both the weight throw and heptathlon jump-started our meet and put us on the board. I was also proud of Jonathan Wade's superb performance. He was really able to focus and concentrate and lead everyone in the nation's best conference. Arkansas didn't stumble, and the Razorbacks are still in the driver's seat.

Tennessee's weight throwers gave the Vols the early lead in the team scoring race by piling up 17 points Saturday morning at Walker Pavilion, the Razorbacks' indoor football practice facility. Tennessee scored eight points in the weight throw at last year's conference meet. Cheered by a boisterous group of their teammates, Porter broke his own school record, Jim Sexton contributed another lifetime best and Josh Whisman offered up a season best in the weight throw.

Porter's 69-foot, 6 ¼-inch launch broke his school record from last year's SEC meet by an inch. To erase any doubt, he threw the exact same mark to the centimeter twice, setting the school record on his second throw and matching it on his third. Porter took silver with his 69-6 ¼ mark, which should be good enough to qualify for the NCAA indoor meet. His mark was the strongest NCAA provisional mark possible, lacking just one centimeter from meeting the NCAA automatic standard. Porter also broke the previous school record twice at the 2004 SEC indoor meet, cementing his reputation for peaking in the postseason.



"The atmosphere of this meet is big time," Porter said. "The biggest thing we 're thinking about is how many points can we get out of this? We've (the throwers) been challenging the other groups to do the same. That's the thing--we've got to score as many points as possible.

After a rocky start, Sexton managed to rally for fourth with yet another lifetime-best throw of 62-8 ¾, a NCAA provisional qualifier. In the squad's most remarkable streak of the season, Sexton improved his season-best mark every meet this season, an astounding string of eight consecutive meets. On his fifth of six throws, Sexton measured his 62-8 ¾ throw, moving the Knoxville Central grad to fourth on Tennessee's all-time list in the weight throw.

After fighting through an injury most of the season, Whisman peaked at the right time, notching fifth with a season-best mark of 62-0 ½. For four consecutive throws, his second through fifth throws, Whisman offered up a season-best effort to charge up the standings and score for the first time at an SEC championship. Freshman Ell Ash finished 14th in the weight throw with a 50-4 ¾ measurement.

The weight throwers weren't the only group to answer the call of the Volunteer --to compete most fiercely when the stakes are highest. In scoring 17 points, Tennessee's heptathletes offered up one gritty performance after another.

Chris Helwick led the Tennessee heptathletes with a runner-up finish after summing 5,609 points, a lifetime-best NCAA provisional mark almost certain to make the cut for nationals. Because of a knee injury that has plagued him all season long, Helwick had to switch his lead leg for the 60 hurdles, no small feat. He finished the hurdles in sixth with an 8.75-second time to stand a distant fourth after five of the seven heptathlon events.

His performance in the pole vault assured he wouldn't remain mired in fourth long. In an impressive display of concentration and grit, Helwick added a foot to his previous lifetime-best vault to wow the SEC crowd. Vaulting alone at the end, Helwick pushed the bar to 16-4 ¾ to rocket to second in the overall heptathlon standings entering the final event. Helwick took fourth in the 1,000 with a time of 2:47.51 to lock up his silver for the overall heptathlon.

"I'm very satisfied with my performance, though I definitely think there's room for immediate improvement," Helwick said. "I wish I had a firm grasp on what happened in the pole vault. I had some confidence coming in, and I didn't want to limit myself. I started with the first bar and the first pole. I wasn't thinking about the last bar--just the next bar. I think the group as a whole did excellent. No one no heighted, and everyone finished strong. Everyone being together really helped me.

Farragut grad Kevin Yeager authored his finest day as a Vol by finishing fourth in the heptathlon with 5,309 points, a NCAA provisional qualifier. Yeager opened his day with a season-best time of 8.97 in the 60 hurdles to take 11th. Yeager improved to eighth with a lifetime-best leap of 13-1 ½ in the pole vault. He finished even stronger in the 1,000, leading the Vols with his 2:46.38 time to take third.

Jangy Addy also gave a courageous performance. Like Helwick, Addy has been hampered by injury all season. As he passed the second to last hurdle, Addy felt his hamstring cramp but still finished the race in 8.31 to take third. There was considerable doubt whether he would continue the competition at all with the pole vault and 1,000 next up, neither one of his strengths. Addy wanted to stay in the competition and devised a plan to clear the lowest pole vault bar in hopes of finishing the meet and adding points to the Vol account. Addy cleared 10-2, his hamstring wrapped considerably, to take 13th but avoid a disastrous no height. Addy plowed through the 1,000 to take 10th in 3:00.97. His reward was a fifth-place overall finish with a lifetime-best 5,149 points.

Alex Hritcu just missed scoring with a ninth-place, season-best score of 4,961 in the heptathlon. Hritcu took ninth in the 60 hurdles with an 8.81 time. Hritcu rose to the pole vault challenge with a lifetime-best clearance of 13-9 ¼ to tie for sixth. Hritcu finished the 1,000 in sixth place with a 2:51.84 time.

In the high jump, true freshman Drew Brunson also scored for the Vols with his seventh-place, season-best 6-8 leap. Halls grad Chris Wilson also jumped 6-8 but tied for ninth based on previous misses.

Jonathan Wade and Rubin Williams own lanes in the 60 finals Sunday after strong prelim qualifiers Saturday. Junior Wade ran the best 60 of his life Saturday by posting the day's fastest prelim time, a NCAA provisional-qualifying 6.67 and the sixth-fastest time ever by a Vol. Wade drove hard out of the blocks for an early lead he never relinquished to seize his qualifier. Rubin Williams finished fourth overall and tied for the lead in his heat with a 6.74 time. Freshman Matthieu Pritchett's 6.80 prelim time ranked 11th overall and neared his lifetime best but didn't qualify for the final.

Williams and Wade also sprinted into the 200 final. Williams ran a NCAA provisional time of 21.07, the day's seventh-fastest prelim time. Wade's eighth-place, season-best 21.23 provisional-qualifying time bookended one of the finest days of his collegiate career. Pritchett also ran a season-best 21.87 in the 200 prelims to rank 15th overall.

Tennessee locked up two lanes in the 60 hurdles finals courtesy of Aries Merritt and co-captain Robert Boulware. Merritt's 7.80 prelim time, a NCAA provisional qualifier, took second in his heat and stood fourth overall, easily making the cut for finals. Boulware took the eighth and last finals spot after clocking a season-best 7.91, also a NCAA provisional time, in the prelims. Brunson's 8.05 ranked as the 13th-fastest prelim time of the day.

Paul Cross qualified for the 800 final with a season-best 1:50.88 in the prelims. However, Frank Francois' 1:52.62 took 11th and didn't make the cut for finals.

In the second heat of the mile prelims, teammates Tyler DeVault and Dusty Miller chased the final together. DeVault finished ninth overall and third in his heat with a time of 4:09.21, a four-second improvement on his previous lifetime best, to qualify for Sunday's final. Miller finished 11th overall and fourth in his heat in 4:11.26. Miller missed qualifying for the final by only 36 hundredths of a second, a small margin in a race that distance.

In the mile, Miller boldly jumped out to the opening lead from the 100-meter mark until he was overtaken at about the 1,000-meter mark, nearly two-thirds of the way through the race. All the while, DeVault stalked in fifth in the rear of the lead pack. At the beginning of the final lap, Miller stood third and DeVault fourth. In the final 200 meters, DeVault and Miller switched places.

Tennessee did not qualify anyone in the 400. Jacob Dennis, owner of the squad 's best 400 time, was too ill to compete. Dennis' scratch in the 400 will also complicate Tennessee's 4x400 relay Sunday, as he won't be able to hold his standard assignment. Jeremy Burton finished the two-lap race in a season-best 48.76 to take 29th.

Eric Pierce fouled all three of his attempts in the long jump.

Tennessee concludes the SEC indoor championships Sunday.



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