June 9, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Like Chase Brannon in the men's pole vault, the Tennessee men's 4x100-meter relay team entered the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships not projected to score. As Brannon did a day earlier, though, the Vol 4x1 quartet did what it took to earn points Saturday on the national stage at Drake Stadium.
While their time of 40.21 seconds didn't satisfy the Big Orange tandem of junior Reggie Juin, freshman Jamol James, sophomore Jarael Nelvis and junior Arnez Hardnick, the seventh-place finish and two points they earned for their program did provide gratification for a young UT men's squad that returns all of its NCAA event qualifiers next season.
"They did a good job as a youthful team of coming in and accomplishing the task of making the final and scoring for our team," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "That's what the goal was, and fortunately they are all coming back next year. Another good thing is that I believe we have some individuals who can come outside the relay next year and score in open events, the 100 and 200, particularly.
"That's going to help our program, and then you throw in Matthew Hoty, Chase Brannon and others like Joe Franklin and some of our returnees and newcomers, then I believe we have the potential to do some good damage."
By scoring in the 4x1 for the first time since 2007, the Tennessee men also produced points in more than one event for the first time since that season and improved their point total at this meet to three, finishing in a tie for 56th. That's up from 65th in 2011. Florida claimed the men's title with 50 points, followed by LSU (48) and Texas A&M (40).
"It's exciting for us to have them score in the 4x1 for the first time since I've been in charge of the men's program, and to add another scoring element with Chase in the pole vault," Clark said. "I want to concentrate on the positive, and the theme is that we had youngsters come in who weren't supposed to score and they did. The reality of the situation is that we need more points on the board. A lot more points.
"The young men know that, and we are strategically planning as a staff to address that. The plan is to next year have four or five score and keep building on it from that point. That's my goal, that's my focus, and we'll get it done."
The Lady Vols, who did not have any competitors on the final day, finished with 21 points and tied for ninth place. The women's outcome was the program's best at the NCAA Outdoor meet since placing fourth in 2005 and gave Clark the 11th top-10 national finish of his tenure at Rocky Top. LSU's women captured the title, scoring 76 points to hold off Oregon (62) and Texas A&M (38).
"Our women's team came here and put points on the board and came out with a top-10 finish," Clark said. "We had three seniors who really generated all of our point production, and I am proud of what they've done. Obviously, you want to get a trophy, and I think we had the potential to have done that if we had gotten some wins out of these events. We didn't, but I am still very proud of what they've done this year and what they've done at this meet. Hopefully we can reload and shoot for another top-10 type of performance next year."
In UT's other event on the final day, redshirt freshman Matthew Hoty saw a strong first collegiate season as a Vol come to an end without a throw to his liking in the men's shot put. His second toss of 59-2 3/4 wasn't enough to advance him out of the preliminary round and left him 18th in the final standings.
Pole Vault Final: 8. Chase Brannon, 17-8.50/5.40m
No Vols In Action
No Lady Vols In Action
400m Hurdles Final: 3. Ellen Wortham, 55.82
800m Final: 3. Chanelle Price, 2:01.49
Shot Put Final: 4. Annie Alexander, 56-11.50/17.36m
4x400m Semifinals: DNA - Ellen Wortham / Kianna Ruff / Nijgia Snapp / Martinique Octave, 3:31.57p/4th, ht. 1 (10th)
200m Semifinals: DNA - Brittany Jones, 23.35pw (w: 2.2)/6th, ht. 1 (15th)
1500m Semifinals: DNA - Brittany Sheffey, 4:18.63p/10th, ht. 1 (19th)
Discus Throw Final: 5. Annie Alexander, 186-0/56.69m
Pole Vault Final: t20. Linda Hadfield, 12-9.50/3.90m
800m Semifinals: Adv. Chanelle Price, 2:01.66p/1st, ht. 3 (1st)
400m Hurdles Semifinals: Adv. 55.67p/1st, ht. 2 (2nd)
4x100m Relay Semifinals: DNA - Ashley Harris / Brittany Jones / Martinique Octave / Kia Jackson, 44.26p/4th, ht. 1 (12th)
! - personal record, Adv. - Advanced to next round, DNA - did not advance, DNF - did not finish, DNS - did not start, DQ - disqualified, F- foul, fr - facility record, FS - false start, h - heat, m - meters, mr - meet record, NM - no mark registered, NH - no height registered, p - preliminary round, sr - school record, utfr - UT freshman record, w - wind-aided