April 29, 2005
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Tennessee added another chapter to its rich Penn Relays legacy Friday by winning its 14th shuttle hurdle relay championship, more than twice as many as any other school, with a 54.97-second finish. The 54.97 finish stands as the fourth-fastest ever by any team at the Penn Relays. With Tennessee's orange and white flag flying high over historic Franklin Field, Eric Pierce added the Vols' third Penn Relays title in two days with a lifetime-best 24-feet, 6 1/2-inch winner in the college long jump.
The two titles, plus Jeff Day's college steeplechase victory Thursday night, bump Tennessee's all-time Penn Relays title count, including both college and championship sections, to 69 since 1949.
"I was really happy about the shuttle hurdle relay win and Eric Pierce's win in the long jump," head coach Bill Webb said. "We qualified well in the 4x100 relay, but we'll have to make some adjustments on the first leg in the final. We look forward to throwing the hammer and all the other events (Saturday).
The Volunteers' 54.97 effort stands as their second-fastest time in the 14
shuttle hurdle relay victories at the Penn Relays. Four Tennessee 110-meter
hurdlers--Robert Boulware, Drew Brunson, Clarksville's Damond Campbell and
Aries Merritt--teamed to give the program its 30th overall relay championship
at the Penn Relays, the third-best total of any school since 1966.
Tennessee's winning time of 54.97 cut nearly two seconds off its previous
season-best time of 56.83 at the Sea Ray Relays. Webb reported that the Vols
entered the final leg with a deficit until Merritt steamed through the anchor
"Honestly, it doesn't matter to me who we beat so long as we win," Merritt said. "This was a total team effort, and I'm just really proud of my guys.
Tennessee's first relay title at Penn, also in the shuttle hurdle relay, came courtesy of Larry Bogart, Phil Smith, Roger Neiswender and Pat Pomphrey in 1966. The quartet, competing under head coach Chuck Rohe, raced into the Vols ' history books with a 59.5 time. Tennessee took the shuttle hurdle relay title again the next year with Vols' hurdling legend Richmond Flowers running the anchor leg.
The list of Tennessee greats who've contributed to shuttle hurdle relay titles at the Penn Relays is impressive. Pomphrey, Flowers, Bill High, Reggie Towns, Willie Gault, Lawrence Johnson, Dawane Wallace, Tom Pappas, Justin Gatlin, Karl Jennings and Jabari Greer are just a few of the Volunteers who've been part of a winning shuttle hurdle relay at Penn.
"The shuttle hurdles kind of got out of our reign there for a couple of years," Boulware said. "Guys like Willie Gault and Richmond Flowers dominated that event, and we just wanted to return Tennessee back to glory.
Pierce added the Vols' second title of the day with a 24-6 1/2 winner in the long jump. Pierce's mark stands as his lifetime best and a regional qualifier. Pierce became only the second Vol to win the long jump at the Penn Relays. Vol Charles Jeter won the event in 1972 with a 24-11 1/2 leap down the Penn pit. Pierce also becomes Tennessee's first field event champion at the Penn Relays since Steve Pitlik won the college discus in 2001.
The Volunteers' sprint medley relay team also pieced together a solid effort with a third-place, 3:17.07 time. Jonathan Wade, Merritt, Rubin Williams and Paul Cross passed the baton for Tennessee. Assistant head coach George Watts recorded a 46.1 split on the 400 split for Williams and a 1:48.6 split on the 800 for Cross. Wade ran the first leg on Tennessee's victorious sprint medley relay in 2003.
Tennessee's 4x100 relay team posted the third-fastest preliminary time of the day in a star-studded field. The Volunteer quartet of Matthieu Pritchett, Wade, Merritt and Williams got the stick around the hallowed track at Franklin Field in 39.91 seconds, the squad's second-fastest effort of the season. LSU posted the speediest prelim time with a 39.50 effort. Florida, running in the same heat as Tennessee, stands second with a 39.78. All three squads return Saturday for a showdown with quartets of speed demons from other prelim qualifiers.
Garland Porter placed seventh in the college section of the shot put with a 53-3 1/4 measurement.
Freshman Pritchett finished 14th in the college 100 prelims with a 10.86 time. Pritchett experienced some tightness in his leg during the race and will not likely be available for the 4x100 final Saturday.
Jeremy Burton finished third in his heat and 14th overall in the 400 hurdles with a time of 52.92 in the 400 hurdles.
All of Tennessee's good fortune thus far in the 2005 Penn Relays was tempered with a tough break in the distance medley relay. According to Webb, the baton got knocked out of leadoff man Jeff Day's hand, putting the Vols out of the mix early on. Day picked up the stick and continued his leg and was followed by Burton, Kenny Schappert and Tyler DeVault. Tennessee placed 17th in 10:04.37.
Knoxville Central grad Jim Sexton finished 18th in the college discus with a 157-6 fling.
In the 110 hurdles prelims, co-captain Boulware tied for 21st with a regional-qualifying time of 14.22. Brunson followed in 22nd with a lifetime-best, regional-qualifying 14.24 time. Cade Liverman finished 28th in 14.47.
Tennessee concludes the 111th Penn Relays Saturday. According to USA Track and Field, Penn Relays USA vs. The World coverage will be televised on NBC Saturday from 4-6 p.m.
Penn Relays, Philadelphia, Pa.
Friday, April 29, 2005
|1.||Kevon Pierre, Fla. Intl.||10.48 Q,*|
|14.||Matthieu Pritchett, Tenn.||10.86|
|110 hurdles (prelims)|
|1.||Alleyne Lett, LSU||13.68 Q,*|
|21t.||Robert Boulware, Tenn.||14.22 *|
|22.||Drew Brunson, Tenn.||14.24 PR,*|
|28.||Cade Liverman, Tenn.||14.47|
|1.||Gregory Little, UTech||50.41 *|
|14.||Jeremy Burton, Tenn.||52.92|
|4x100 relay (prelims)|
|(Pritchett, Wade, Merritt, R. Williams)|
|Shuttle hurdle relay-championship|
|(Boulware, Brunson, Campbell, Merritt)|
|Sprint medley relay-championship|
|(Wade, Merritt, R. Williams, Cross)|
|Distance medley relay-college|
|(Day, Burton, Schappert, DeVault)|
|1.||Marios Iacovou, Ohio St.||6-11 3/4 *|
|10t.||Drew Brunson, Tenn.||6-6 3/4|
|13t.||Chris Wilson, Tenn.||6-6 3/4|
|1.||Eric Pierce, Tenn.||24-6 1/2 *,PR|
|1.||Ryan Ketchum, Ind.||58-11 1/2 *|
|7.||Garland Porter, Tenn.||53-3 1/4|
|1.||Robert McDade, Villanova||187-6 *|
|18.||Jim Sexton, Tenn.||157-6|
SB-season-best mark, PR-personal record/career-best mark, Q-qualified for event final, *-NCAA regional qualifier.