June 12, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Tennessee senior Evander Wells wrapped up his college career by matching his best-ever national finish, zipping to fourth place in the men's 200-meter dash Saturday at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
With another NCAA meet record crowd of 12,812 looking on at Hayward Field, the now nine-time All-American cruised around the turn and down the home stretch in 20.61 seconds to close his season on a very positive note. A leg injury had derailed his effort in the 200m at the SEC Outdoor Championships a few weeks ago, slowing him to eighth place, and he was disqualified in the 200 at the 2010 NCAA Indoor meet after being cited for veering out of this lane.
"It feels good to finish the way I did," Wells said. "SECs (hamstring injury) was a little bit of a setback, and that messed up my rhythm a little bit, but to come out and run today against he opponents I faced, it feels good to finish with another All-America honor."
Wells, from Stone Mountain, Ga., entered the meet as the No. 13 seed based on his qualifying mark at the NCAA East Preliminary Round, but he posted the fifth-fastest mark during the regular season at 20.45. He now has scored in NCAA competition eight times during his career, including three occasions outdoors in the 200. He was fourth at this meet in 2008 and fifth in 2007.
The UT speedster broke down his race and said running in lane two and in the morning chill played a factor.
"The race went pretty well, I thought," Wells said. "I was in lane two, so I had a little bit more curve to run and it was a little bit tighter, but I felt good coming off the curve. I wasn't able to move, though, the way I wanted to move.
"Some other people made up some ground. I felt like I came off the curve in front, and I just couldn't quite hold it. It's a little chilly out here, and I guess that kind of tightened me up a little bit where I ran tight at the end. I was glad to be able to hold on at least for fourth place.
UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark was happy how his senior responded to his lane assignment and to adversity he's faced this season.
"It was very good to see Evander execute well out of lane two," Clark said. "That is not the most optimal lane. He's had some adversity with the injury outdoors and the misfortune at the NCAA Indoor meet, but he just kept his nose to the grindstone.
"He's one of the best in the country, and he came out here and proved it. The conditions weren't ideal for sprinting, but he didn't let anything bother him."
Tennessee's men, with Wells' five-point contribution, finished 45th in the team standings, while the Lady Vols came in 26th in the women's point race, thanks to Phoebe Wright's 10-point haul in the 800. The Texas A&M men and women repeated as outdoor champions.
"We had some ups and downs at this meet," Clark said. "I thought Brittany Sheffey (who fell in the semifinals and did not advance) was capable of winning the 1500. We just have to do a better job of recruiting people for both teams who can score points for our program at this meet."
Note: With record crowds all four days, the four-day attendance total also was an NCAA Outdoor Championships best. A total of 45,847 attended the meet.
200m Final: 4. Evander Wells, 20.61
Women 800m Final: 1. Phoebe Wright, 2:01.40
5000m Final: 16. Jackie Areson, 16:17.07
Javelin Throw Finals: NM - Matt Maloney
1500m Semifinals: 24. Brittany Sheffey, 4:36.85p/12th, ht. 1
4x400m Relay Semifinals: 19. Ellen Wortham / Martinique Octave / Kimarra McDonald / Charity Honeycutt, 3:40.73p/6th, ht. 2
800m Semifinals: Adv. (1st) Phoebe Wright, 2:02.98p/1st, ht. 2; 21. Kimarra McDonald, 2:10.85p/7th, ht. 2
400m Hurdles Semifinals: 18. Ellen Wortham, 59.05p/6th, ht. 1
DNF - did not finish; DNR - did not run; DQ - disqualified; f - foul; fr - facility record; m - meters; mr - meet record; NH - No Height; NM - No Mark; nwi - no wind index; p - prelims; sr - school record; ! - personal