March 25, 2005
Tennessee's Chris Martland got his Volunteer career off to a fine start after achieving a career-best, first-day decathlon score of 3,896 points to rank second Thursday at the Arizona Invitational Decathlon in Tucson, Ariz. Martland trails leader Darius Draudvila of Kansas State by only nine points at Roy P. Drachman Track & Field Stadium.
The senior graduated from Belmont last year but chose to enter graduate school at Tennessee and use his final outdoor season of eligibility as a Volunteer. An East Tennessean, Martland graduated from Farragut High before joining Belmont's program. Martland added 31 points to his previous career-best first day.
"Chris Martland had a lifetime-best first day," head coach Bill Webb said. "Kevin Yeager had a solid start. We had a crosswind in the 100 meters to start the day. No one ran a good time in the 100 because of that. Twenty-three decathletes finished the first day, and we're off to a good start.
Webb should be grateful a crosswind was the worst thing the Tucson sky dished out upon the Volunteer decathletes. Former Tennessee and current Colorado Rockies star Todd Helton wasn't so fortunate Thursday. The Diamondbacks and Rockies were forced to cancel their game at Tucson Electric Park after the fifth inning when swarms of bees continually harassed players in the field.
Thursday proved kind to another Farragut grad, as senior Kevin Yeager finished the decathlon's first five events in fourth place, third among collegians. Yeager posted a 3,761-point finish, 118 points off his lifetime-best first day.
Senior Alex Hritcu stands 17th after scoring 3,175 points in the first five events.
None of the individual decathlon results have been updated.
All of the decathletes are chasing an early provisional or automatic qualifier for the NCAA outdoor championships in June. The decathlon and the 10,000 are the only two events that still use the provisional/automatic qualifying system outdoors. Competitors in all other events qualify for the NCAA meet by meeting a regional standard. Those athletes then qualify for the NCAA meet according to their regional finish.
The Arizona Invitational Decathlon concludes Friday. Four Tennessee distance runners get their first test of the year late Friday night at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. Zach Sabatino and Ben Lukowski race the 10,000, while Jeff Day and Tyler DeVault run the 5,000. The Vols' last race at Stanford doesn't begin until 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Therefore, results will be included with Saturday's Jim Click Shootout results.