March 28, 2003
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tennessee opened up the first day of the Florida Relays Friday with three new regional qualifiers, five lifetime bests and three season bests at Percy Beard Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. While the Vols went winless on Friday, a rarity the last few years, head coach Bill Webb felt good about the early-season progress and improvement from the first meet to the second.
"We got a number of things done today," head coach Bill Webb said. "We started off really hot. I feel good about our early performances. We had solid times up and down the line, despite not having any favorable tailwinds in the sprints. Not all of the times were all that fast, but I was really pleased with the way we competed with some of the really good people here in different events. We'll continue tomorrow and use that to get ready for our first team-scored meet of the season next weekend at South Carolina."
Jabari Greer opened his outdoor season with an easy regional qualifier in the 110m hurdles. Greer finished runner-up in 13.71, his fastest time ever in the event. In another encouraging sign, Greer nipped 2002 NCAA hurdles champion Ron Bramlett, formerly of Alabama but now running for Nike, to the line as the first and fastest heat ran into a whisper of a headwind. Meanwhile, fellow hurdlers Karl Jennings, seventh in 14.00, and Robert Boulware, 19th in 14.48, posted season bests.
Tennessee added two 100m men to its regional qualifiers' list thanks to Sean Lambert's and Jonathan Wade's season-opening efforts in the event. Lambert placed third with a time of 10.35. Meanwhile, Wade took seventh in 10.46. Their times should get faster as the season matures, but both Vols made the first step to the postseason Friday.
Meanwhile, Gary Kikaya raced in the 200m dash, half the distance of his specialty. However, the departure from the 400m didn't bother Kikaya, as the senior notched his lifetime-best time of 21.01 to meet the regional-qualifying standard with a fifth-place finish. His aforementioned teammates, Lambert and Wade, also put in a focused effort in the deuce. Lambert finished third in a season-best 20.92. Wade notched fourth with a 20.96 to give the Vols three in the top five in the 200m dash. All three Vols had to cut through a slight headwind.
Josh Whisman improved his previous regional qualifier with a lifetime-best 182-7 mark in the hammer to take bronze. Meanwhile, Damond Campbell notched a personal-best time of 53.08 to inch closer to the regional standard of 52.70.
While a good section of the distance corps was competing at the Stanford Invitational, Kenny Schappert and Joakim Daun contributed PRs in the 800m run (1:54.49) and 1,500m run (3:53.59), respectively.
The distance corps in California should wrap up its night of competition at the Stanford Invitational Saturday about 2 a.m. Eastern Time. Those results will be included with the final day of action from the Florida Relays Saturday night.