Vols Up and Down on First Day of Mideast Regional

May 28, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- Tennessee's track and field squad opened the first day of the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships Friday on a lukewarm note at Indiana's Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex in Bloomington, Ind. The Volunteers posted some hits and misses as they tried to piece together their squad for the NCAA championships.

The day began with rain showers and ended with a storm of controversy as a severe weather delay played havoc with the meet schedule. With the long jump in progress and only the 200 prelims and 5,000 final left Friday night, lightning forced meet officials to postpone the remaining events until Saturday. However, moving the 200 prelims to Saturday forces problems with athletes also running the 100 final, 200 final, 4x100 relay and possibly the 4x400 relay in the same day. Tennessee's Rubin Williams is one of the athletes who would have to run the 200 prelims, 200 final, 100 final and 4x100 relay final all in the same day.

Also moving the 5,000 to Saturday causes trouble for Vol Tyler DeVault because he is also entered in the steeplechase, a nearly impossible double within only a few hours. DeVault was given a choice by meet officials of which event to run and chose to compete in the rescheduled 5,000 Saturday morning and drop the steeplechase later that day. As the night dragged on coaches gathered in Indiana's indoor track across the parking lot from storied Assembly Hall to await the ruling of the NCAA committee, which finally arrived at 11:40 p.m. EDT. The committee ruled that the men's 5,000 would begin at 11:20 a.m., the long jump would continue at 12:10 p.m., and the 200 would be run at its original time of 6:52 p.m. in one race as a timed final to lessen the physical strain on the athletes.

"We had some ups and downs (Friday)," head coach Bill Webb said. "We had several disappointments, but we also had several people meet their goals. Aries Merritt had a good effort on both the 4x100 relay and 110 hurdles. Rubin Williams qualified in both the 4x100 and 100. Jeremy Burton had gutsy races in the 4x100 and 400 hurdles. It was good to get our 4x100 relay in the final. Jonathan Wade twitched in the blocks and got called for a false start. I know he's disappointed. I also feel bad for Paul Cross. I think nine times out of 10 he easily qualifies in the 800. He was in the last heat which was really fast."



Merritt posted the day's fastest 110 hurdles prelim time after breaking the tape in 13.75. Running on the inside in lane one, Merritt led the second heat wire to wire and cruised to the finish line. However, the other four Tennessee 110 hurdlers didn't make the cut for Saturday's final. Damond Campbell finished with the 12th-best prelim time in 14.24. Cade Liverman took 24th in 14.46. Drew Brunson finished 25th in 14.48. Robert Boulware's 14.55 time ranked 26th.

"I thought my hurdles race was terrible," Merritt said. "I think I need to go in and execute and just finish the race (Saturday in the final). If I finish I go to nationals. On the 4x100, our handoffs weren't as crisp as we wanted. Our steps were reduced so we could get the stick around. We still ran a season best for that team. I think we can run faster in the final."

In the 4x100 relay prelims, the Volunteer quartet of Burton, Wade, Merritt and Williams motored around the track in 39.51 to qualify for Saturday's final. The Vols' time of 39.51 ranked third overall in the prelims and second in their heat. Arkansas won the heat with a 39.43 time. LSU posted the fastest time of the day in 39.26.

Tennessee was forced to shuffle its 4x100 relay lineup with starting leadoff man Matthieu Pritchett still on the mend after sustaining an injury at the SEC championships two weeks ago. As he did in the SEC final, Burton filled in admirably to get the Volunteers out of the hole. Wade and Merritt ran solid legs and passed the stick safely. Williams and Arkansas anchor Omar Brown switched the lead until it was clear both teams would advance to the final. While Tennessee owns a season-best time of 39.29 in the 4x100 with Pritchett on the first leg, the Vols' 39.51 time in Friday's prelim stands as the season-best time by the Burton, Wade, Merritt and Williams foursome.

In the 100 prelims, Williams slid into the finals after running the straightaway in 10.50, the seventh-fastest time overall. However, Wade, running in the same heat as Williams, got a jump on the starter's gun and was disqualified for a false start.

Burton will fill double duty Saturday after qualifying in both the 4x100 relay and 400 hurdles. Burton's 400 hurdles prelim time of 51.20 ranks as the seventh fastest of the day.

In a surprising development, Cross missed qualifying for the 800 final. Cross completed the two laps in 1:50.29, the eighth-fastest time of the day. However, based on the qualifying procedures where the top two in each of three heats qualify for the finals, Cross gets bumped down to 10th to make room for the automatic qualifiers from the second and slowest heat.

In the shot put, Garland Porter took 15th with a 56-1 ¾ mark. Josh Whisman finished 18th with a 55-2 measurement. Both should be in the mix, along with Jim Sexton, in the hammer throw Saturday.

Sexton finished 31st in midday discus competition after a 150-5 fling. Sexton notched his 150-5 mark on his first of three throws. His final throw was a foul. Brunson no heighted in the high jump after taking three misses at the opening height of 6-9.

The NCAA Mideast Regionals conclude Saturday.

NCAA Mideast Regional Championships
Bloomington, Ind.
Friday, May 27, 2005

100 prelim.
1.Tyson Gay, Ark.10.34 Q, MR
7.Rubin Williams, Tenn.10.50 Q
--Jonathan Wade, Tenn.DQ-false start
800 prelim.
1.Mike Inge, Kent St.1:47.66 Q
8.Paul Cross, Tenn.1:50.29
110 hurdles prelim.
1.Aries Merritt, Tenn.13.75 Q
12.Damond Campbell, Tenn.14.24
24.Cade Liverman, Tenn.14.46
25.Drew Brunson, Tenn.14.48
26.Robert Boulware, Tenn.14.55
400 hurdles prelim.
1.Abe Jones, Ill.50.11 Q
7.Jeremy Burton, Tenn.51.20 Q
4x100 relay prelim.
1.LSU39.26 Q
3.Tennessee (Burton, Wade, Merritt, Williams)39.51 Q
High jump
1.Steve Wolf, Central Mich.7-3 ¼ MR
--Drew Brunson, Tenn.No height
Shot put
1.Edis Elkasevic, Auburn66-11 ½
15.Garland Porter, Tenn.56-1 ¾
18.Josh Whisman, Tenn.55-2
1.Edis Elkasevic, Auburn188-5
31.Jim Sexton, Tenn.150-5

Q-qualified for event final, SB-season-best mark, PR-personal record/career-best mark, MR-NCAA Mideast Regional meet record.



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