March 15, 2003
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Tennessee's Jabari Greer finished the first day of the NCAA Indoors Friday in record-smashing, title-grabbing fashion. Riding the strength of Greer's NCAA winner in the 60m hurdles and Rocky Danners' sixth-place, All-America finish in the pole vault, the Volunteers left Arkansas' Randal Tyson Track Center in fourth with 13 points following the first day of the NCAA Indoors. The homestanding Razorbacks lead with 19 points.
"We were three out of four today," head coach Bill Webb said. "It was a good day for the Vols. I couldn't be happier for Jabari Greer smashing Willie Gault's school record. It's one thing to come into the meet with the nation's No. 1 time, but it's a lot harder to defend your position and leave as the best in America. I'm also happy for Gary Kikaya, who qualified for the 400m finals. I'm looking forward to watching him tomorrow. Rocky Danners had a remarkable comeback in the pole vault. He worked himself in position to finish third, but took sixth on misses."
Greer, who competed outdoors last year but is competing in his first season indoors, kept Tennessee's NCAA title-winning streak alive with his blazing 7.55 in the 60m hurdles finals to add 10 points for the Vols. Greer looked flawless in both his preliminary and final efforts. The sophomore from Jackson ran so well he broke the legendary Willie Gault's previously untouchable 60m hurdles school record twice Friday. He easily won the second heat in the preliminaries with a 7.63 effort to qualify for the finals in fine form.
Greer's 7.55 bettered Gault's 20-year-old school record of 7.67. In just his first season of indoor track, Greer's 7.55 falls just 0.03 of a second off the NCAA Indoor meet record by former South Carolina Gamecock and current pro Terrence Trammell.
"Since I was a little kid I wanted to be No. 1 in the nation," Greer said. "I have the best coach (sprint coach Vince Anderson) in the nation. I try to go to practice every day and have the mentality of a champion. When I first came to Tennessee, everybody said I looked like Willie Gault. To break Willie Gault's record is more than an honor. I feel like the four of us (Greer, Danners, Gary Kikaya and Sean Lambert) will represent Tennessee well. I have faith that the four of us and my teammates back home can contend for the outdoor national championship."
Greer's parents and high school coach were on hand for his crowning moment. Cheered by the crowd, he found them in the crowd and gave all of them a hug midway through his victory lap. With the win, Greer wraps up the SEC and NCAA Indoor hurdles sweep. Also noteworthy, Greer's victory marks the fourth consecutive meet, dating back to the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene--Justin Gatlin's coming out party, Tennessee has claimed an individual NCAA title. Additionally, the eight NCAA individual titles in the last four NCAA meets for Tennessee all came courtesy of athletes coached by sprint guru Anderson.
Danners won All-America acclaim with his sixth-place, 17-7 3/4 clearance in the pole vault. After a tough SEC Indoor meet two weeks ago marred by a injury-induced no height, Danners redeemed himself by contributing three points to the Vol cause. Danners cleared his opening height of 17-0 on his first attempt. He cleared the next two bars at 17-3 3/4 and 17-7 3/4 on his final attempt at each height. Danners missed all three attempts at 17-11 3/4. However, Danners' clutch last-chance clearances at his final two bars gave him his third All-America certificate in as many meets.
"I thought I did alright," Danners said. "It was my second-best jump of the season. I felt really good. It's time to put indoor season behind me and concentrate on outdoors."
In another piece of good news, Kikaya qualified easily by winning his 400m dash heat in 46.16. Kikaya wasn't entirely pleased with his effort, but feels good about his draw for Saturday's finals. Kikaya's 46.16 stood as the day's fifth-best prelim time.
However, after one of his finest seasons, Lambert hit a rough patch of luck in the starting blocks of the 60m dash. Lambert got a little too eager and beat the starting gun. He was charged with the false start and disqualified.
Kikaya holds Tennessee's last chance of scoring in the 400m dash finals on the last day of the NCAA Indoors Saturday.