March 16, 2003
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Tennessee's Gary Kikaya ended the Vols' NCAA Indoor run with a bang Saturday evening as he captured his second consecutive national 400m dash title in the world's fastest time this year. Kikaya's NCAA title marked the second in as many days for the Tennesseans to push the Vols to a tie for fifth place with 23 points as the meet concluded the indoor season in Arkansas' Randal Tyson Track Center.
Heavily-favored Arkansas won the meet on its home track with 52 points. Auburn's 28 points took runner-up honors. Third-place Nebraska (26 points) and fourth-place LSU (24 points) edged out the fifth-place Vols, who tied with Villanova and South Carolina.
"For us to finish fifth and score 23 points is certainly an accomplishment with really only three guys competing," head coach Bill Webb said. "We needed a few more people. I'm really proud of how our guys competed and what we've accomplished. I feel bad for Sean (Lambert) being charged with a false start yesterday. It sounds like a broken record, but it's the same old SEC with five of the top seven teams out front. I'm looking forward to the outdoor season where we pick up Marc Sylvester in the 800m, our decathletes, Leigh Smith in the javelin and a few others."
Running in the first and "slower" heat of a two-section final because of a not entirely sharp prelim Friday, Kikaya led all the way to cross the finish line first in his heat at 45.71. After waiting through the second and supposedly "faster" finals heat, Auburn's Sanjay Ayre won that one in 45.98 and Kikaya was crowned NCAA champion.
"Being in the slow heat, I really got to run my race and not worry about getting bumped around or anything," Kikaya said. "I just ran at my own pace and was fortunate enough to come away with a win. This win does surprise me, but Coach (Anderson) has prepared me really well for this (world-leading) time. I'm very thankful for him and what he has done for me. Seeing my old roommate Justin Gatlin win the World Championships helps me and motivates me to run and work harder."
Kikaya's 45.71 stands as the fastest time in the world this year and improved his own school record in the indoor 400m dash. Meanwhile, Kikaya's title was his second consecutive NCAA 400m dash title, as the Kinshasa, Congo native won the 2002 NCAA Outdoor 400m dash title at LSU. Since he arrived on The Hill, Kikaya has won two of three NCAA 400m dash titles and won All-America honors in each of the three 400m dash races in which he has participated. Kikaya becomes the first Volunteer to win the indoor 400m dash since Anthony Blair took the equivalent 440 Yd. dash title in 1980.
"For Gary to win the 400m dash indoors with the winter we've had in Knoxville is tremendous," Webb said. "We don't have a good enough facility to train for the 400m dash or any of the oval races indoors. He has to be that much sharper, tougher and better to win."
To paraphrase Mark Twain liberally, the rumors of the death of Tennessee track and field were greatly exaggerated. Despite losing World Champion Justin Gatlin and Leonard Scott and a handful of other All-Americas and regular scorers, Tennessee posted 23 points, tied for fifth place and notched two NCAA champions with three competitors, if you don't count Lambert's false start in the 60m dash Friday. Two of Tennessee's three competing athletes (Jabari Greer in the 60m hurdles, Rocky Danners in the pole vault and Kikaya in the 400m dash) won NCAA individual titles and all three won All-America acclaim. Realistically, based on the times in the 60m dash prelims and finals, Lambert had a good chance of making that a pefect four for four if not for his early start. Greer, Kikaya and Danners met or exceeded their NCAA ranks entering the meet.
Since the 2001 NCAA Outdoor meet, Tennesseans have won an unthinkable nine NCAA individual sprint/hurdle titles in the last four NCAA meets. Meanwhile, just in the last two days, Tennessee rewrote impressive school records in the 55m hurdles and 400m dash.
"It shows that the 'T' always stands for tradition," Kikaya said. "We've set a legacy every year. We want to keep building here this year."
Tennessee opens the outdoor season with a split squad affair over spring break next week at Texas A&M and Florida State.
Men's Team Results: 1. Arkansas 52 2. Auburn 28 3. Nebraska 26 4. LSU 24 5. TENNESSEE 23 South Carolina 23 Villanova 23 8. Minnesota 21 9. Indiana 19 10. Stanford 18 11. Mississippi State 16 Texas 16 Michigan 16 14. Texas Christian 15 Southern California 15 Ohio State 15 17. Eastern Michigan 12 18. Seton Hall 11 19. Purdue 10.5 20. Kansas 10 Southern 10 Manhattan 10 Florida 10 East Carolina 10 Cal State-Northridge 10 Washington 10 27. Brigham Young 9 Missouri 9 29. Colorado State 8 Kentucky 8 UCLA 8 North Carolina 8 33. Texas A&M 7 34. Pennsylvania 6 Notre Dame 6 Alabama 6 Clemson 6 Southern Methodist 6 Mississippi 6 40. North Carolina State 5.5 41. Cal-State Fullerton 5 Iona 5 Georgia 5 Oregon 5 45. Houston 4 Texas Tech 4 Wisconsin 4 Kansas State 4 Arizona State 4 51. Florida State 3 Arizona 3 Weber State 3 54. Oklahoma State 2 Northeastern 2 Southwest Texas State 2 Akron 2 Idaho 2 Baylor 2 Middle Tennessee State 2 Montana State 2 62. Idaho 1 American 1
Saturday -- 10 pts.
Gary Kikaya, 10 pts., first, 400m dash
400m dash (finals)
1. Gary Kikaya, Tenn. 45.71 SR
60m hurdles (prelims)
1. Jabari Greer, Tenn. 7.63 Q
60m hurdles (finals)
1. Jabari Greer, Tenn. 7.55 SR
1. Brad Walker, Wash. 19-0 1/4
6. Rocky Danners, Tenn. 17-7 3/4
PR - career best/personal record; SR - school record; Q - qualified for event finals.