Merritt Runs U.S. Leader to Win 110 Hurdles at Sea Ray Relays

April 15, 2005

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-- Tennessee swept the relays, witnessed 110-meter hurdler Aries Merritt post the year's fastest time by an American and saw Garland Porter notch the second-best hammer throw ever for the Vols on a busy Friday at the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tenn. Friday stands as traditionally the longest day of the Sea Ray Relays, with events beginning at 8:45 a.m. and ending past 10:15 p.m., and the Volunteers packed it full of improvement.

After stumbling between the last hurdle and the finish line last week, Merritt righted himself with a winning 110 hurdles time of 13.60 seconds, the fastest wind legal time for any U.S. professional or collegiate hurdler this year, based on marks entering the weekend. The time stands as Merritt's wind-legal season best and a regional qualifier, though the sophomore did clock a stoutly wind-aided 13.49w two weeks ago at Georgia Tech's Yellow Jacket Invitational.

"It still wasn't what I wanted," Merritt said. "When I got out of the blocks they (his opponents) were crushing me. It was the worst start ever. I won that race at the run in (the space between the last hurdle and the finish line). I wasn't leading after the last hurdle, and I sure wasn't leading after the first hurdle. I'm going to be right on track. I ran faster at Sea Rays this year than last year. If I can progressively get better at each meet compared to last year I'll be happy.

Clarksville native Damond Campbell took sixth in the 110 hurdles with a barely wind-aided time of 14.04w, a regional qualifier and his fastest time in all conditions. Co-captain Robert Boulware finished 11th with a 14.22 regional qualifier. Freshman Drew Brunson followed in 13th with a 14.39 effort. Freshman Cade Liverman tied for 17th with a 14.56 time.



Tennessee swept both the 4x200 and 4x1,500 relays contested Friday, sporting capability in both the sprint and distance-based relays. Tennessee notched its first relay win of the Sea Ray Relays with a dominating 4x200 victory. Matthieu Pritchett, Jonathan Wade, Merritt and Rubin Williams passed the baton for the Volunteers. Tennessee churned to a 1:21.75 finish, beating the runner-up quartet by nearly five seconds, an eternity in a short relay.

The Vols' 1:21.75 time stands as the third-fastest 4x200 relay in the world this year, behind 1:21.34 and 1:21.62 efforts by Mississippi State. The victory marks Tennessee's sixth Sea Ray Relays 4x200 relay title since 1978. The time of 1:21.75 is the third fastest in the 39-year history of the meet and the fastest since the meet record of 1:20.90 set in 2001 by Sean Lambert, Justin Gatlin, Russell Frye and Leonard Scott.

Later in the evening, the Volunteers led the entire way to strike gold in the 4x1,500 relay. Dusting off the white uniform tops, Tennessee finished with a time of 15:38.78, safely ahead of the runner-up time of 15:56.18. Chris Platt, Jeff Day, Zach Sabatino and Tyler DeVault put in the mileage on the longest relay contested at the Sea Rays. The victory marked Tennessee's third 4x1,500 relay title at the Sea Ray Relays. The other Vol victories came in 1991 and 2003.

Just one week after setting the Tom Black Track 3,000 record, Platt got the Volunteers out of the hole in a hurry, handing off to Day with about a 40-meter lead. Day surrendered nothing and handed off to Sabatino with a healthy padding. Sabatino maintained the lead to set up DeVault on the anchor. DeVault built the victory margin to about 90 meters.

"Coach Watts has worked us really hard," Platt said. "He always says it's a two-year plan. It's two years for me now (Platt redshirted the 2004 outdoor season), and I'm improving. With all the guys on the team we have a big bunch pushing each other every day in workouts."

Redshirt freshman Michael Hogue won the open pole vault by matching his season-best clearance of 16-6 ¾, a regional qualifier.

Senior Garland Porter carved another notch into a season of highlights by offering up a fourth-place hammer mark of 210-5, his lifetime best and the second-best mark ever by a Vol. Porter's mark currently ranks 10th on the NCAA list. Fellow senior Josh Whisman finished seventh after adding more than three feet to his previous lifetime best. Whisman's 193-10 mark improved his stranglehold on No. 6 on the Vols' all-time hammer list. Both Porter's and Whisman's marks easily met the NCAA regional standard.

Jeremy Burton navigated the 400 hurdles in 51.16, shaving half a second off his lifetime best from last year, to snag fourth. Burton's time stands as a regional qualifier and the eighth-fastest time on Tennessee's all-time list.

In the 10,000, the longest event of the meet and the last running event on the meet's longest day, redshirt freshman Matt Piccarello finished second with a time of 30:43.84, chopping nearly two minutes off his previous lifetime best. Ed Davis took 11th in the endurance test with a 31:59.84 time. Freshman Matthieu Pritchett finished third in the 100 with a barely wind-aided 10.39w effort.

DeVault dropped down to the 1,500 and rang up a lifetime-best time of 3:50.35 to take sixth.

In the high jump, Halls grad Chris Wilson tied for sixth with a 6-6 ¼ clearance. Brunson also jumped 6-6 ¼ but finished ninth based on previous misses.

Garland Porter finished 10th in the open discus with a 152-1 distance. Paul Cross finished 14th in the 800 with a 1:50.84 clocking. Kenny Schappert matched his season best from a week ago to the hundredth of a second with a 1:51.99 time to place 19th. Karns grad Yarrick Kincaid finished 20th with a lifetime-best time of 1:52.98, good enough for 20th in the field in a swollen field of 48.

In the 400, Jacob Dennis circled the track in a season-best 48.72 to take 23rd, trimming a second off his season opener.

Another full slate of events Saturday, running from 9:15 a.m. through 5:45 p.m., concludes the 39th edition of the Sea Ray Relays. A complete Sea Ray Relays schedule is available on the track page of Admission is free.

Sea Ray Relays, Knoxville, Tenn.
Friday, April 15, 2005

1.Leroy Dixon, S.C.10.30 *
3.Matthieu Pritchett, Tenn.10.39w *
1.Dirk Homewood, Northern Iowa46.20 *
23.Jacob Dennis, Tenn.48.72 SB
1.Zach Glavash, Ill.1:47.28 *
14.Paul Cross, Tenn.1:50.84
19.Kenny Schappert, Tenn.1:51.99 SB
20.Yarrick Kincaid, Tenn.1:52.98 PR
1.Ryan Hayden, Villanova3:46.65 *
6.Tyler DeVault, Tenn.3:50.35 PR
Steeplechase (open)
1.Mike Long, Pittsburgh9:15.92
5,000 (open)
1.Seth Hutchinson, Kent St.14:47.12
1.James Mutuse, Eastern Ky.30:27.84
2.Matt Piccarello, Tenn.30:43.84 PR
11.Ed Davis, Tenn.31:59.84
110 hurdles
1.Aries Merritt, Tenn.13.60*, SB
6.Damond Campbell, Tenn.14.04w *
11.Robert Boulware, Tenn.14.22 *
13.Drew Brunson, Tenn.14.39
17t.Cade Liverman, Tenn.14.56
400 hurdles
1.Labronze Garrett, Doyle Mgmt.50.03 *
4.Jeremy Burton, Tenn.51.16 *, PR
4x200 relay
(Pritchett, Wade, Merritt, R. Williams)
4x1,500 relay
(Platt, Day, Sabatino, DeVault)
High jump
1.Steve Wolf, Central Mich.7-2 ½ *
6-t.Chris Wilson, Tenn.6-6 ¼
9.Drew Brunson, Tenn.6-6 ¼
Pole vault (open)
1.Michael Hogue, Tenn.16-6 ¾ *, SB
Triple jump
1.Everett Bruce, N.C. A&T50-8 ¾ *
--Alonzo Williams, Tenn.Foul
Shot put (open)
1.Andre Reid, Rhode Island56-11 ½ *
Discus (invitational)
1.Derek Anderson, Unatt.183-7 *
Discus (open)
1.John Harper, Kent St.168-6 *
10.Garland Porter, Tenn.152-1
Hammer (invitational)
1.Spyridon Jullien, Va. Tech228-3 *
4.Garland Porter, Tenn.210-5 *, PR
7.Josh Whisman, Tenn.193-10 *, PR

SB-season-best mark, PR-personal record/career-best mark, *-NCAA regional qualifier.



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