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Helwick Becomes Newest Vol All-America Decathlete at NCAA Championships
Chris Helwick

Chris Helwick

June 10, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Chris Helwick became the newest member of Tennessee's decathlon All-America club with a fifth-place, 7,569-point performance Thursday at the NCAA outdoor championships in Sacramento, Calif. Freshman Rubin Williams matched his lifetime best twice in one day as he sprinted through two qualifying rounds to make the 200-meter final at Hornet Stadium in the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.

"Helwick just kept closing on people," head coach Bill Webb said. "He didn't have a great meet like in the SECs, but he was strong enough to keep closing on people. He was a little bit off here and there. He's a little disappointed with fifth as a sophomore. I like that. He did exactly what I asked him to in the 1,500. He really competed."

Twenty-six decathletes started the 10-event test on a dreary Wednesday. Only 19 finished the test of endurance Thursday as the gray veil shrouding the capital city the last two days finally gave way to sunny skies. Helwick earned his first decathlon All-America certificate after taking two such awards in the indoor heptathlon the last two years.

The sophomore from Greeley, Colo., started the second day seventh. Like Wednesday, Helwick got off to a slow start in the first event Thursday. Helwick clocked in at 13th with a 15.70-second time in the 110 hurdles, the sixth of the decathlon's 10 events. Helwick's season-best time was 15.06 in the SEC decathlon a month ago. After scoring the 110 hurdles, Helwick slid a bit from seventh to eighth. Helwick changed his fortunes in the discus by finishing sixth after throwing 137 feet, 6 inches, his best discus mark ever in a decathlon. Helwick launched the 137-6 fling on his second throw after posting a 136-2 mark on his first try and fouling his third and final attempt. After the discus, Helwick moved back into seventh place overall in the combined standings.

 

 

As is his custom, Helwick mounted a charge in the pole vault, perhaps the most feared event for decathletes. A no height at that late stage of the game, the eighth of 10 events, renders two days of work all for naught. Helwick tied for second with an outdoor season-best leap of 15-9. Helwick passed on entering the competition at 13-9 ¼. He joined the vault with a first-attempt clearance at 14-1 ¼. Helwick passed at the 14-5 ¼ bar before rejoining the event with a first-attempt clearance at 14-9. Helwick also leaped over bars at 15-1 and 15-5 on his first attempt. He needed two tries at his final height of 15-9 before taking three misses at 16-0 ¾. While he remained seventh overall after the vault, Helwick closed the gap between seventh and fourth place to give him a chance at vertical momentum in the last two events.

Helwick remained in the fray with a third-place, 191-7 throw in the javelin, the ninth of the 10 events. Helwick offered up the 191-7 mark on his third and final throw to pad his point total. He still stood seventh after the javelin, though he kept whittling down the deficit. The 1,500 caps the decathlon, a grinding way to end two days of toil. In a gutsy 1,500, Helwick finished fourth with a season-best time of 4:29.66, less than a second off his career best. Helwick mounted a charge on the final lap to pick off several decathletes and move from the seventh overall spot to fifth.

"Last year I didn't have any good decathlons," Helwick said. "This year I had a great one (at SECs) and a pretty good one (at NCAAs). It was like in the SEC decathlon everything was on. There were sparks in every event. In this one there were sparks in some events but not all. The other ones I really had to will it to happen. I had to force it, which isn't good."

After a one-year break, Helwick became the first Vol to earn All-America honors since Stephen Harris won the NCAA title in Sacramento in 2003. Helwick joins Harris, Tom Pappas, Aric Long, Brian Brophy, Chad Smith, Matt Shelton, Bobby Tonker, Pat Buckheit, Grant Cleghorn, Doug Hedrick, Boris Kawohl and Kevin Thompson as Volunteer decathletes who've earned All-America honors training under Webb.

Williams qualified for the finals by matching his lifetime-best time of 20.56 both in the prelims and semifinals. Williams finished ninth in the semifinals after finishing fourth in the second heat. Williams felt some tightness in his hamstring but maintained his stride pattern until the last steps before the finish line. In the 200 prelims, Williams sprinted to the fourth-best time in the first and fastest heat. Williams ran a wind-aided 20.56 to author the sixth-fastest time overall in the prelims and easily qualify for the semifinal.

"At about 120 or 130 meters (in the semifinal) I felt it (my hamstring)," Williams said. "At 160 to 180 meters I wanted to stop, but I had to make the final. The finish line was too close. I just had to finish. My prelim was good, but I had a couple of mistakes. In the beginning I felt sluggish. I couldn't get the push I really wanted."

"Rubin ran very well to make the 200 final," Webb said. "He's been very consistent in the 200 all year. With treatment and a good night's rest we hope he'll be ready to go (Friday)."

Jeremy Burton missed the cut for the semifinals after running a 19th-place, 51.49 time in the 400 hurdles preliminaries. Though Burton missed out on the semifinals, he still exceeded his premeet NCAA ranking of 25th.

"Jeremy didn't miss by much," Webb said. "He banged the first hurdle and couldn't recover in a meet like this."

Tennessee continues the NCAA outdoor championships Friday with qualifiers in three events. Garland Porter gets the afternoon started in the hammer final. Burton, Jonathan Wade, Aries Merritt and Williams seek All-America acclaim in the 4x100 relay final. Merritt caps the night for the Vols with a date in the 110 hurdles final. Williams contests the 200 final Saturday night.

SEC SPRING ACADEMIC HONOR ROLL INCLUDES 18 TRACK VOLS; SECOND-BEST TOTAL IN PROGRAM HISTORY
Eighteen current and former members of Tennessee's track and field squad earned spots on the Southeastern Conference Spring Sports Academic Honor Roll released Thursday. Selections were based on grades from the summer 2004, fall 2004 and spring 2005 semesters. The 18 Volunteers earning spots on the SEC Academic Honor Roll mark the second-best total in program history behind the count of 21 during the 2001 NCAA outdoor championship season.

Fifteen current Volunteers made the academic grade, including Jangy Addy (electronic media), Jeff Day (sport management), Jacob Dennis (history), Frank Francois (management), Chris Helwick (economics), Michael Hogue (nursing), Alex Hritcu (urban studies), Nate Jansen (chemical engineering), Andy Lane (marketing), co-captain Matthew Lapp (exercise science), Brian Mills (speech communication), Kenny Schappert (human resource development), co-captain Jeff Trembley (psychology), Josh Whisman (sport management) and Kevin Yeager (marketing). Former Vols continuing their education who made the list include Joakim Daun (political science), All-America Sean Lambert (chemistry) and three-time SEC champion and All-America Leigh Smith (wildlife and fisheries science).

The 133 selections to the SEC Academic Honor Roll by Tennessee track and field/cross country athletes during the Bill Webb era (1996-2005) lead the conference.

NCAA Championships, Sacramento, Calif.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
All-America honorees/Tennessee scorers-Four points
Chris Helwick, four points, fifth, decathlon, 7,569 points
200-preliminaries
1. Wallace Spearmon, Ark. 20.35w Q
6. Rubin Williams, Tenn. 20.56w Q
200-semifinals
1. Tyson Gay, Ark. 19.93 Q
9. Rubin Williams, Tenn. 20.56 Q, PR
400 hurdles-preliminaries
1. Kerron Clement, Fla. 49.13 Q
19. Jeremy Burton, Tenn. 51.49
Decathlon (final standings)
1. Trey Hardee, Texas 7,881
5. Chris Helwick, Tenn. 7,569
Decathlon 110 hurdles
1. Trey Hardee, Texas 14.09
13. Chris Helwick, Tenn. 15.70
Decathlon discus
1. Alleyne Lett, LSU 174-10
6. Chris Helwick, Tenn. 137-6
Decathlon pole vault
1. Donovan Kilmartin, Texas 16-4 ¾
2-t. Chris Helwick, Tenn. 15-9 SB
Decathlon javelin
1. Nathan Brown, Wis. 194-11
3. Chris Helwick, Tenn. 191-7
Decathlon 1,500
1. Andy Young, Ore. 4:16.91
4. Chris Helwick, Tenn. 4:29.66 SB
Q-qualified for event semifinals or final, w-wind-aided time, SB-season-best mark, PR-personal record/career-best mark.
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