May 27, 2006

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The University of Tennessee men's track and field team scored 52.25 points and finished second in the Mideast Regional Track and Field Championships Saturday at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium. The Vols had six athletes finish in the top five of seven events and automatically qualify for the NCAA outdoor championships.

"We had a heck of a day today," head coach Bill Webb said. "I'm very proud of our guys. The 4x100 relay was ugly, but Aries (Merritt) had the presence of mind to pick up the baton and finish the race. I know (distance coach George) Watts is excited to get a runner through to nationals in all three of the distance events contested today. We competed and did what we had to do across the board to get our guys to nationals. I think we will have a good group going to NCAAs.

Aries Merritt won the 110-meter hurdles in a Mideast Regional meet-record time of 13.36 seconds and Drew Brunson finished sixth in 14.06. Merritt has broken the school, SEC meet and Mideast Regional meet record in the 110 hurdles in the last two weeks. Tyler DeVault was the first Vol to run to an automatic-qualifying finish Saturday. He ran the 1,500 in a personal-best time of 3:45.69 and finished third to punch his ticket to the NCAA outdoor championships. Yarrick Kincaid reserved his spot in the 800 field at the NCAA championship meet by running a personal-best time of his own. His time of 1:49.03 was good enough for a third-place finish and lowered his personal record for the third time this season.

Rubin Williams finished second in the 200 in 20.58 and fifth in the 100 with a 10.34 clocking to qualify for the national championship meet in both events. Senior Eric Pierce used his final attempt in the triple jump to launch himself onto the list of automatic qualifiers. Pierce jumped 51 feet, 1 1/2 inches to move himself into fifth place and grab the final automatic-qualifying position in the region. Zach Sabatino finished fifth in the steeplechase with a time of 8:49.44, less than one second quicker than the sixth-place finisher.



The Vols' 4x100 relay team of Matthieu Pritchett, Jonathan Wade, Merritt and Williams finished eighth after dropping the baton on the second handoff, but did complete the race. Finishing the race gives the Vols, currently ranked eighth in the nation with a season-best time of 39.48, the opportunity to be picked out of the at-large pool to compete in the NCAA championships. Redshirt freshman James Jones saw his season come to an end after clearing 6-9 in the high jump and finishing in a tie for sixth. Fellow redshirt freshman Richard Wooten recorded a measurement of 53-10 1/4 to finish 16th in the shot put. Co-captain Chris Helwick threw the javelin 189-11 and finished 13th in his final preparation for the decathlon at the NCAA championships. Jeff Day ran the steeplechase in 9:34.31 to finish 26th.

In addition to the Vols' seven automatic-qualifying performances, Jim Sexton (hammer throw), Brunson and the 4x100 relay team will be in consideration for one of the coveted at-large spots in the NCAA championship field. Helwick has already automatically qualified in the decathlon with his score of 7,765 from the SEC outdoor championships. The decathlon and 10,000 are not contested during the regional meets.

The official list of qualifiers for the NCAA outdoor championships is expected from the NCAA office Tuesday afternoon. The 2006 NCAA outdoor championships will be held June 7-10 on the campus of Sacramento State University. Hornet Stadium, located in the A.G. Spanos Sports Complex and home to Sacramento State's track and field and football programs, is the largest in the Big West Conference and currently seats 21,000 people.

Mideast Regional, Knoxville, Tenn.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
1. Xavier Carter, LSU 10.22
5. Rubin Williams, Tenn. 10.34
1. Kelly Willie, LSU 20.48
2. Rubin Williams, Tenn. 20.58
1. Xavier Carter, LSU 44.84
1. Thomas Chamney, Notre Dame 1:48.86
3. Yarrick Kincaid, Tenn. 1:49.03 PR
1. Vincent Rono, South Ala. 3:44.59
3. Tyler DeVault, Tenn. 3:45.69 PR
1. Brian Olinger, Ohio St. 8:45.18
5. Zach Sabatino, Tenn. 8:49.44
26. Jeff Day, Tenn. 9:34.41
110 hurdles
1. Aries Merritt, Tenn. 13.36 MR
6. Drew Brunson, Tenn. 14.06
400 hurdles
1. Michael Tinsley, Jackson St. 48.63 MR
1. LSU 39.12
8. Tennessee 44.94
(Matthieu Pritchett, Jonathan Wade, Aries Merritt, Rubin Williams)
1. LSU 3:02.30 MR
High jump
1. Tomasz Smialek, Akron 7-2 1/4
6-t. James Jones, Tenn. 6-9
Triple jump
1. Alonzo Moore, Wis. 52-1 3/4
5. Eric Pierce, Tenn. 51-1 1/2
Shot put
1. Andy Fryman, Kentucky 61-10 1/4
16. Richard Wooten, Tenn. 53-10 1/4
1. Eric Brown, Ark. 231-7
13. Chris Helwick, Tenn. 189-11
MR-Mideast Regional meet record; PR-personal record/career best time


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