Chris Helwick (Photo: Paul J. Levy )
May 14, 2005
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- Head coach Bill Webb didn't put a lot of stock in Friday 13th humbug during the second day of the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Vanderbilt Track in Nashville, Tenn. Just about everything went according to Tennessee's plan Friday as the Volunteers rolled out to a 36-point day to lead the meet.
After a one-year hiatus, Chris Helwick returned the SEC decathlon title to the Volunteers with a lifetime-best score of 7,780--the second-best mark this year in the NCAA, fourth best by any U.S. athlete collegiate or professional and fifth best in the world so far. Tennessee piled up 18 points in the decathlon and 17 in the weight throw. The Vols scored in every event possible Friday and qualified someone in each final during preliminary action.
"We scrapped for just about all we could (Friday)," head coach Bill Webb said. "We ended up with 36 points, which leads the meet. We knew we needed to jump-start this meet. We're pleased with an excellent start."
In the decathlon, Helwick rallied to the win with a dominating 1,500 meters, the 10th and final event of the decathlon. His score of 7,780 marked a massive 439-point improvement to his lifetime best and an automatic qualifier for the NCAA championships. Down 324 points entering the pole vault, the eighth of the 10 events, Helwick roared back to win the final three events to cement the win and his growing status as a gamer.
Helwick opened his day by winning his heat and running the second-fastest overall time with a lifetime-best 15.06 seconds in the 110 hurdles. He finished second in the discus with a 134-feet, 4-inch effort. Down 324 points entering the pole vault, Helwick vaulted to an outdoor season-best clearance of 15-7 to cut LSU's Alleyne Lett's lead to just 12 points entering the javelin. Helwick tied for the win by vaulting perfectly without a single miss to top the first five bars, culminating in a 15-7 clearance. In the javelin, Helwick won the event with a 193-10 throw. Down two points to Lett entering the capping 1,500, Helwick motored to a three-second victory with a 4:34.00 time, nearly 39 seconds faster than Lett.
"Today my best event was the hurdles," Helwick said. "I feel good, not too tired. Maybe it's just adrenaline. This really surpassed my expectations. I'm obviously happy, but I haven't been hyping this (winning the SEC decathlon) up. I've been talking with the sports psychologist and it's helped a lot. When you don't focus on the outcome but focus on each event by event it turns out better."
After LSU's Kwami Roberts no-heighted in the decathlon pole vault, he fell from third to eighth, below both Chris Martland and Kevin Yeager. The event led to a significant point swing for Tennessee as Martland and Yeager, who was nursing a balky hamstring, persevered through the last two events.
Martland's last collegiate decathlon also proved to be his best. The Farragut, Tenn., native took fourth overall with a lifetime-best 6,938 points. Martland took fifth with a lifetime-best 15.55 clocking in the 110 hurdles to open his second day. He finished ninth with a 97-10 measurement in the discus. Martland rallied for a season-best 12-11 ½ clearance to place sixth in the pole vault. Martland rode his strength in the javelin to a fourth-place, 176-8 effort. He wrapped up his collegiate career with a fifth-place, season-best time of 4:52.84 in the decathlon 1,500.
Fellow Farragut, Tenn., native and senior, Yeager finished his collegiate career with a gutsy sixth-place, 6,502 effort in the decathlon. Battling a lack of mobility, Yeager finished eighth with a 17.41 time in the 110 hurdles. He took sixth in the discus with a 115-2 fling. Yeager cleared 12-3 ½ in the pole vault to take seventh. Yeager posted a seventh-place, 147-8 javelin throw. In a gritty effort, Yeager took third with a 4:48.96 time in the 1,500 to cap his career.
The Vol decathletes weren't the only ones to pull their weight. The Vols got the day off to a rolling start in the hammer throw. Tennessee's Garland Porter, Jim Sexton and Josh Whisman all registered lifetime-best throws to pile up 17 points and take the early lead in the meet's first scored event. All three Vols surpassed the previous Vanderbilt Track record with their performances. The 17 points scored by Tennessee's three hammer throwers stand as an 11-point improvement over the trio's output at the 2004 SEC outdoors.
Porter finished second with a lifetime-best mark of 214-10, a mere inch off the mark set by champion Cory Martin of Auburn. Porter peaked for a four-foot, five-inch improvement on his previous career best. On his fifth and next to last attempt, Porter launched a huge foul that landed just outside the sector and likely would have won the event. Porter owns the No. 2 mark on the Tennessee all-time hammer list, trailing only Wes Boudreau's 222-7 school record in 1996.
"I think I performed pretty well," Porter said. "I think I left some out on the track. Overall, I'm pretty happy. Our group (hammer throwers) sat down and tried to come up with how many points we could score here. Each SEC meet, indoor and outdoor, we've met as a group to come up with a goal. We tried to accomplish that (Friday)."
Knoxville Central grad Sexton also peaked for a personal-best throw of 204-0 to take fourth, matching his best ever finish at a SEC meet. Sexton added a whopping six feet, seven inches to his previous career best throw. Whisman wrapped up the hammer point parade with a fifth-place, lifetime-best 199-2 mark, matching his best ever finish at a SEC meet. Whisman stands fifth on Tennessee's all-time list in the hammer.
Former Vol throwers Rob Carlson and Chris Leming were on hand for the Tennessee hammer exhibition. Carlson, who lettered from 1992-95, was a two-time All-America in the shot put. His best shot put of 62-1 1/4 still stands fifth on the Vols' all-time list. Leming, who lettered from 1992-95, saw Sexton leapfrog him for the No. 3 spot on Tennessee's all-time hammer list.
"Chris Helwick really kept his focus and kept our tradition going in the decathlon," Webb said. "He'll be a factor at nationals now. I'm really pleased with the way Chris Martland and Kevin Yeager competed and kept their focus. Yeager really did it on one leg because he was guarding his hamstring, but he kept moving up. Ben Lukowski in the 10,000 gave one of the hardest one-point efforts I've seen by a Tennessee Volunteer in a long time."
In the last and longest men's event of the night, Lukowski scrapped for a point in the 10,000. Lukowski dug himself out of a hole to rally for an eighth-place finish in grueling 10,000, adding Tennessee's 36th point of the day. Lukowski finished in 31:04.88, fending off a late charge by Auburn's Chris George to secure the point for Tennessee.
Tennessee also qualified through the prelims in fine form, sending one person into the finals in each of the two Friday prelims.
The Volunteers will suit up freshman Rubin Williams for the 200 final after he finished with the fifth-fastest prelim time. Williams' time of 20.60 stands as a regional qualifier and lifetime best. Williams' 20.60 time ranks sixth on an impressive Tennessee all-time list in the 200. Williams passed such notables as Sam Graddy, Terry McDaniel, Willie Gault, Russell Frye and Gary Kikaya on the Vols' all-time 200 list. Jonathan Wade missed the finals cut after posting a season-best, regional-qualifying time of 21.00 in a world-class 200 field.
Defending SEC outdoor champion Paul Cross qualified for the 800 finals with a fifth-place, regional-qualifying 1:48.87 mark. However, Tennessee's other three 800 men didn't make the finals cut. Karns grad Yarrick Kincaid finished 19th in 1:52.40. Kenny Schappert ranked 20th in 1:52.53. Jeff Day registered a career-best time of 1:52.64 to place 21st.
Tennessee also reserved a lane for the 400 hurdles final courtesy of Jeremy Burton. Burton's prelim time of 51.13 ranked sixth, which qualified for the final and stands as a personal best and regional qualifier. Burton's 51.13 prelim time ranks eighth on Tennessee's all-time 400 hurdles list. Freshman Cade Liverman took 16th in 54.63.
Saturday and Sunday boast full schedules to close the SEC outdoor championships.
|SEC Outdoor Championships, Nashville, Tenn.|
Friday, May 13, 2005
|Team standings (after second day)|
|Tennessee Individual Scorers|
|Chris Helwick, 10 points, first place, decathlon, 7,780|
|Garland Porter, eight points, second place, hammer, 214-10|
|Chris Martland, five points, fourth place, decathlon, 6,938|
|Jim Sexton, five points, fourth place, hammer, 204-0|
|Josh Whisman, four points, fifth place, hammer, 199-2|
|Kevin Yeager, three points, six place, decathlon, 6,502|
|Ben Lukowski, one point, eighth place, 10,000, 31:04.88|
|1.||Wallace Spearmon, Ark.||20.16 Q, *|
|5.||Rubin Williams, Tenn.||20.60 Q, PR, *|
|11.||Jonathan Wade, Tenn.||21.00 SB, *|
|1.||Sherridan Kirk, Auburn||1:46.95 Q, *|
|5.||Paul Cross, Tenn.||1:48.87 Q, *|
|19.||Yarrick Kincaid, Tenn.||1:52.40|
|20.||Kenny Schappert, Tenn.||1:52.53|
|21.||Jeff Day, Tenn.||1:52.64 PR|
|1.||Josphat Boit, Ark.||29:39.58 #|
|8.||Ben Lukowski, Tenn.||31:04.88|
|400 hurdles prelim.|
|1.||LaRon Bennett, Ga.||49.20 Q, *|
|6.||Jeremy Burton, Tenn.||51.13 Q, PR, *|
|16.||Cade Liverman, Tenn.||54.63|
|1.||Cory Martin, Auburn||214-11 *|
|2.||Garland Porter, Tenn.||214-10 PR, *|
|4.||Jim Sexton, Tenn.||204-0 PR, *|
|5.||Josh Whisman, Tenn.||199-2 PR, *|
|1.||Chris Helwick, Tenn.||7,780 PR, ##|
|4.||Chris Martland, Tenn.||6,938 PR|
|6.||Kevin Yeager, Tenn.||6,502|
|Decathlon 110 hurdles|
|1.||Alleyne Lett, LSU||13.88 *|
|2.||Chris Helwick, Tenn.||15.06 PR|
|5.||Chris Martland, Tenn.||15.55 PR|
|8.||Kevin Yeager, Tenn.||17.41|
|1.||Alleyne Lett, LSU||163-7|
|2.||Chris Helwick, Tenn.||134-4|
|6.||Kevin Yeager, Tenn.||115-2|
|9.||Chris Martland, Tenn.||97-10|
|Decathlon pole vault|
|1t.||Chris Helwick, Tenn.||15-7 SB|
|6.||Chris Martland, Tenn.||12-11 ½ SB|
|7.||Kevin Yeager, Tenn.||12-3 1/2|
|1.||Chris Helwick, Tenn.||193-10|
|4.||Chris Martland, Tenn.||176-8|
|7.||Kevin Yeager, Tenn.||147-8|
|1.||Chris Helwick, Tenn.||4:34.00 SB|
|3.||Kevin Yeager, Tenn.||4:48.96|
|5.||Chris Martland, Tenn.||4:52.84 SB|
|SB-season-best mark, PR-personal record/career-best mark, ##-NCAA automatic qualifier (10,000 and decathlon), #-NCAA provisional qualifier (10,000 and decathlon), *-NCAA regional qualifier.|