April 9, 2003
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee track and field history stands full of traditions. One of those is strength in the decathlon, among other event areas. Another time-tested tradition is as least one nasty day of weather in the Sea Ray Relays. As the first day of the 37th annual Sea Ray Relays got underway Wednesday, both traditions were upheld as the Vols got off to a good start in the decathlon on a rainy, chilly and ugly day on Tennessee's Tom Black Track.
While All-America selections Stephen Harris and Kevin Thompson sat this decathlon out after solid opening outings at the College Station Decathlon last month and newcomer William Frullani only competed in selected events, Tennessee's trio of decathletes found a new leader in Farragut native Kevin Yeager. Yeager, a redshirt sophomore, led the decathlon after five events with a score of 3,751. The score appears even more respectable considering the less than optimal conditions the decathletes dealt with throughout the opening day. Halfway to an automatic qualifying score for nationals, Yeager will need to improve on his second-day events to land a spot in the national meet. Yeager won the 100m dash in 11.08 to get the meet off to a good start. Meanwhile, Yeager put forth a second-place finish in the 400m dash (49.63) to also close the day's slate of five events in good shape.
Junior Blake Sabo stands third entering the second stanza of the decathlon Thursday. Sabo, a Carrollton, Ga., native, rang up 3,716 points to nail down the bronze slot after the first five events. Sabo stayed near the leaders in the first four events for a steady start. He tied for the high jump win with a season-best 6-6 clearance. Sabo added runner-up efforts in the 100m dash (11.32) and long jump (23-1.25) and a third-place heave in the shot put (42-1.5). Sabo also stands a good chance of being able to improve on his existing provisional, season-best decathlon score of 7,072 if conditions allow Thursday and he can put together a decent 1,500m run to cap the meet.
Meanwhile, Alex Hritcu is working his way back into the decathlon mix after having to pull out of the College Station Decathlon because of an injury. Hritcu currently stands sixth with 3,496 points, quite a bit off his lifetime-best, first-day score of 3,766, but still in the ballpark to meet the provisional standard of 7,000 with a strong second day. Hritcu's highlights included fourth-place finishes in the 100m dash (11.53) and long jump (21-9.5). Remaining steady, the Detroit, Mich., native finished fifth in the final three events of the day.
The Scott Hartman Decathlon concludes Thursday regardless of weather conditions. The start time for the beginning of second day of the decathlon arrives at 2:30 p.m. Thursday night closes with a slate of long distance events in the men's invitational 5,000m (7:50 p.m) and 10,000m runs (8:10 p.m.). The Sea Ray Relays continue through Saturday. Admission is free.