Aries Merritt Hurdles To Seventh Against Pros

June 25, 2005

Former Vol Stephen Harris' fourth-place finish in the decathlon led Tennessee's alums Friday night at the USA championships at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Sophomore Aries Merritt held his own against the professionals by taking seventh in the 110-meter hurdles final.

With former Vol Tom Pappas absent, Harris finished fourth in the decathlon with a 7,769 score to help keep up the Tennessee tradition in the event. Harris entered the meet ranked 13th in the nation with a previous season-best score of 7,618. Harris, the 2003 NCAA decathlon champion, trains in Knoxville under head coach Bill Webb.

He opened the second day of the decathlon with a fourth-place, 14.57-second finish in the 110 hurdles. In the seventh event of the decathlon, Harris finished 11th with a 131-feet, 11-inch fling in the discus. Harris offered up his best throw on his third and final attempt. Harris tied for seventh with a 14-9 clearance in the pole vault. Harris not only avoided trouble in the pole vault but even jumped to third on the overall leader list after the eighth event. Harris finished sixth in the javelin with a throw of 180-8 to hold at third overall entering the final decathlon event. Harris wrapped up his decathlon with a fifth-place, 4:32.37 clocking in the 1,500.

Merritt earned a spot in a final of the nation's top nine 110 hurdlers after advancing from the semifinals with the ninth and last qualifier. Merritt ran a 13.63 to nab fifth in the first semifinal heat. Roughly an hour and a half later, Merritt dropped his time to 13.39 to finish seventh in the 110 hurdles final. The 13.39 time falls just one-hundredth of a second off Merritt's lifetime-best 13.38 to win the SEC title. The only collegian to make the 110 hurdles final, Merritt defeated two professionals in the final. He trains under assistant coach Norbert Elliott.



In qualifying action, former Vol Leonard Scott raced through the 100 prelims by winning the third heat with a 10.20 time. Scott's time ranked as the fifth-fastest effort of the preliminary heats. Scott will advance to the 100 semifinal Saturday and is also entered in the 200. However, the trouble continued for Tennessee's 2004 Olympic gold-medal winners as Justin Gatlin was called for a false start in the 100 prelims. He will still contest the 200 but won't get a chance to defend his 100 gold at the world championships later this summer. Thursday night Tim Mack, gold medalist and Olympic record holder in the pole vault, finished seventh and did not make Team USA for the world championships.

Former Vol Jebreh Harris won a tight second heat in the 800 semifinals to earn his berth in the final Sunday. Harris' time of 1:48.89 ranked as the sixth-fastest semifinal time overall as the first heat proved faster than the second. In the second heat, Harris got to the line first as a crowd of four was separated by only 19-hundredths of a second, a very close finish in the 800. Harris continues to train in Knoxville under assistant head coach George Watts.

Former Vol Patrick Gildea took seventh in the 10,000 after running the test of endurance in 28:39.49 late Thursday night. Gildea picked up a few spots as he entered the meet with the 11th-fastest time in the nation. His time of 28:39.49 stood less than a second slower than his season-best offering.

Departing senior Garland Porter finished 21st with a 199-2 mark in the hammer. Porter achieved his best mark on his third and final throw. Leigh Smith was slated to compete in the javelin late Friday night. Smith's results will be released with Tennessee's Saturday results. The USA outdoor championships conclude Sunday.

USA Outdoor Championships, Carson, Calif.
Friday, June 24, 2005
1. Shawn Crawford, Nike 10.10 Q
5. Leonard Scott, Nike 10.20 Q
-- Justin Gatlin, Nike DQ-False start
1. Khadevis Robinson, Nike 1:47.53 Q
6. Jebreh Harris, Reebok 1:48.89 Q
110 hurdles-semi.
1. Terrence Trammell, Mizuno 13.41 Q
9. Aries Merritt, Tenn. 13.63 Q
110 hurdles-final
1. Allen Johnson, Nike 12.99
7. Aries Merritt, Tenn. 13.39
1. James Parker, U.S. Air Force 243-3
21. Garland Porter, Tenn. 199-2
Decathlon (final)
1. Bryan Clay, Nike 8,506
4. Stephen Harris, Unatt. 7,769
Decathlon 110 hurdles
1. Bryan Clay, Nike 14.06
4. Stephen Harris, Unatt. 14.57
Decathlon discus
1. Bryan Clay, Nike 183-4
11. Stephen Harris, Unatt. 131-11
Decathlon pole vault
1. Paul Terek, Unatt. 17-0 3/4
7-t. Stephen Harris, Unatt. 14-9
Decathlon javelin
1. Chris Boyles, Unatt. 199-4
6. Stephen Harris, Unatt. 180-8
Decathlon 1,500
1. Phil McMullen, Unatt. 4:19.16
5. Stephen Harris, Unatt. 4:32.37
Late Thursday, June 23, 2005
1. Abdi Abdirahman, Nike 28:10.38
7. Patrick Gildea, NYAC 28:39.49
Q-qualified for event semifinals or final, SB-season-best mark, PR-personal record/career-best mark.


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