Feb. 27, 2005
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.-- Tennessee finished third with 89 points to close the SEC indoor championships Sunday at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Arkansas won the meet with 155 points. Florida took second with 92 points, just three ahead of Tennessee.
Tennessee marked significant improvement from the 2004 SEC indoor meet. Last year, the Volunteers finished sixth with 60 points in a disappointing SEC indoor meet at Kentucky. However, this year Tennessee led the meet or stood second until the final event of the meet despite leaving some points on the track because of injuries. Of 17 Vols who scored, 13 return next year. Nine of those 17 scorers are either freshmen or sophomores.
Time after time, a Vol who didn't even rank in the SEC top 10 entering the meet overachieved to score in the finals. One of the most heralded Vols, Garland Porter, led the squad in scoring with 11 points after taking second in the weight throw and sixth in the shot put.
"We ended up a really strong third," head coach Bill Webb said. "We've got a really good team, and I'm proud of the way our guys competed. I couldn't be prouder of Michael Hogue. We kept scrapping for points. They knew we were here. We were three points out of second in the best conference in the nation. That's not a bad weekend's work.
The Volunteer 60 sprinters kept the Vols in the team lead early with an
11-point performance. Despite not entering the meet ranked in the top 10 in
the event, Jonathan Wade overachieved for a third-place finish in 6.73. Rubin
Williams followed in fourth with a 6.73, nine-thousandths of a second behind
Wade, to claim half the top four for Tennessee sprinters. Later in the day in
the 200, Williams ran the fastest indoor time of his life to place seventh and
notch an NCAA automatic qualifier at 20.81. Wade scratched from the 200 final
after aggravating a quadriceps injury.
Some of the Tennessee heroes proved unlikely. Redshirt freshman Michael Hogue finished second in his first SEC meet with a lifetime-best, NCAA provisional-qualifying 17-3 ½ clearance. Hogue added nine inches to his previous season best and five inches to his lifetime best to peak in the postseason. Strategically, Hogue vaulted smartly but made it interesting at every height. Even at his opening height of 15-11 ¼, Hogue needed his last chance to clear the bar, but he kept the bar moving skyward. Co-captain Jeff Trembley and Andy Lane, both battling balky hamstrings, no heighted.
"I couldn't have done it without Coach (Jim) Bemiller, (Jeff) Trembley and (Andy) Lane," Hogue said. "They've been helping me out all season. It was intense. I made every bar on my third (final) attempt. It was back and forth (with champion Brad Smith of Georgia), but I had fun.
Tennessee's hurdlers moved the Vols back into the team lead to start the final day with their eight-point contribution. Aries Merritt took fourth in 7.81 in the 60 hurdles, a NCAA provisional qualifier. Despite not being ranked in the top 10 entering the meet, Robert Boulware overachieved for a sixth-place, season-best 7.90 NCAA provisional-qualifying finish. The sixth-place finish marks the junior co-captain's best finish at an SEC meet.
Paul Cross, who also didn't rank in the top 10 entering the meet, took third in the 800 with a season-best time of 1:50.24. Halfway through the race, Cross stalked in sixth before picking people off with a strong close.
"I was satisfied with my place," Cross said. "But, in my mind, if I had put myself in better position early I think I could have won. Making the finals and showing I can do it gives me confidence for the last chance meet and NCAA meet.
Tyler DeVault showed plenty of reasons why the cross country team missed his contributions during a 2004 season lost to injury. DeVault, not sniffing the conference top-10 list in the mile entering the meet, authored a gutsy and smart performance to finish fourth in the mile in a lifetime-best 4:08.44. DeVault, a transfer from West Virginia, ran the ninth-best prelim time Saturday. DeVault started on the outside and bided his time in eighth through ¾ of a mile. However, in the last 200 meters, DeVault overtook three more runners to improve his lot. Of special import to the team race, DeVault churned past three Arkansas Razorbacks on their home track in one of their event specialties.
"I knew I could do better (than his time entering the meet)," DeVault said. "I had a plan. I wanted to stay in the middle of the pack. I knew the leaders went out too fast. When they came back to me, I followed an Arkansas guy and caught him. My plan worked to perfection. I exceeded my expectations.
The theme of overachievement continued in the triple jump. Eric Pierce, disappointed after a foul in the long jump Saturday, came back to take fourth in the triple jump with a season-best 51-3 ¾ leap. Pierce added more than a foot to his previous season best to peak at the SEC meet. After two full days of the grueling heptathlon, Kevin Yeager unselfishly entered the triple jump in hopes of scrapping for team points. Yeager didn't score but took 13th with a 45-1 mark in his first triple jump of the season.
In the distance medley relay, Tennessee finished fifth in 9:57.87. After his gutsy mile final, DeVault took the 1,200 leg and handed off to Drew Brunson in eighth to begin the 400 leg. Frank Francois got the baton in eighth place to begin the 800 leg. Dusty Miller made up some ground on the 1,600 leg to finish fifth.
In the shot put, Porter jumped to the team lead in points scored after adding three points with a sixth-place finish. Porter contributed a season-best throw of 57-9 ¾. Josh Whisman followed in eighth with a 56-4 ¾ measurement. Ell Ash took 10th with a 52-4 ½ effort.
Tennessee capped the meet with a ninth-place, 3:12.72 finish in the 4x400 relay. Having to account for a missing Jacob Dennis, who is a 4x400 relay regular but was too ill to compete, Tennessee assigned Jeremy Burton, Merritt, Cross and Williams to 4x400 relay duty. In spite of the juggled lineup, Tennessee still managed its second-fastest time of the season.
"Jonathan Wade stepped up to help in the 60, as did Robert Boulware in the hurdles when it was so competitive at the top," Webb said. "Cross did a nice job in the 800. DeVault scrapped in the mile. Rubin's 200 time wins most conferences, but he finishes seventh here. Eric Pierce had a nice triple jump.
Tennessee's coaching staff will meet in the coming days to determine who will participate this weekend in a last-chance qualifying meet for the NCAA indoor championships.
SEC Indoor Championships
Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005
Tennessee scorers--89 points
Garland Porter, 11 pts. (second, weight throw; sixth, shot put)
Chris Helwick, eight pts. (second, heptathlon)
Michael Hogue, eight pts. (second, pole vault)
Rubin Williams, seven pts. (fourth, 60; seventh, 200)
Paul Cross, six pts. (third, 800)
Jonathan Wade, six pts. (third, 60)
Tyler DeVault, six pts. (fourth, mile; fifth, distance medley relay)
Aries Merritt, five pts. (fourth, 60 hurdles)
Eric Pierce, five pts. (fourth, triple jump)
Jim Sexton, five pts. (fourth, weight throw)
Josh Whisman, five pts. (fifth, weight throw; eighth, shot put)
Kevin Yeager, five pts. (fourth, heptathlon)
Jangy Addy, four pts. (fifth, heptathlon)
Robert Boulware, three pts. (sixth, 60 hurdles)
Drew Brunson, three pts. (fifth, distance medley relay; seventh, high jump)
Frank Francois, one pt. (fifth, distance medley relay)
Dusty Miller, one pt. (fifth, distance medley relay)
|1.||Kelly Willie, LSU||6.69*|
|3.||Jonathan Wade, Tenn.||6.73|
|4.||Rubin Williams, Tenn.||6.73|
|1.||Wallace Spearmon, Ark.||20.35**, MR|
|7.||Rubin Williams, Tenn.||20.81**, SB|
|--||Jonathan Wade, Tenn.||Scratched|
|1.||Kerron Clement, Fla.||45.29**, MR|
|1.||Sherridan Kirk, Auburn||1:49.48*|
|3.||Paul Cross, Tenn.||1:50.24 SB|
|1.||Said Ahmed, Ark.||4:01.05*|
|4.||Tyler DeVault, Tenn.||4:08.44 PR|
|1.||Peter Kosgei, Ark.||13:53.85*|
|10.||Zach Sabatino, Tenn.||14:16.66|
|--||Andy Baksa, Tenn.||DNF|
|1.||Antwon Hicks, Miss.||7.64**|
|4.||Aries Merritt, Tenn.||7.81*|
|6.||Robert Boulware, Tenn.||7.90*, SB|
|(Burton, Merritt, Cross, Williams)|
|Distance medley relay|
|(DeVault, Brunson, Francois, Miller)|
|1.||Brad Smith, Ga.||17-6 ½*|
|2.||Michael Hogue, Tenn.||17-3 ½*, PR|
|--||Jeff Trembley, Tenn.||No height|
|--||Andy Lane, Tenn.||No height|
|1.||Jaanus Uudmae, Ark.||52-11*|
|4.||Eric Pierce, Tenn.||51-3 3/4 *, SB|
|13.||Kevin Yeager, Tenn.||45-1|
|1.||Edis Elkasevic, Auburn||63-2*|
|6.||Garland Porter, Tenn.||57-9 ¾ SB|
|8.||Josh Whisman, Tenn.||56-4 ¾|
|10.||Ell Ash, Tenn.||52-4 ½|
SB-season-best mark, PR-personal record/career-best mark, MR-SEC indoor championships meet record, *-NCAA indoor provisional qualifier, **-NCAA indoor automatic qualifier.