The third-ranked Tennessee men’s track and field team concluded the SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sunday with 99.5 points and finished third. The Vols finished as the highest Eastern Division team at the indoor conference championships for the ninth time since the SEC began using the current 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system in 1993, more than any other Eastern Division opponent.
“I said we would be ahead after the pole vault and 200 and we were,” head coach Bill Webb said. “We just didn’t have enough to hang on (to the lead). We had seven events that we didn’t score and that’s not like Tennessee at the SEC championships. We had some very good events, such as the pole vault, 200 and 800, but we just didn’t have enough. It was a strong performance in the No. 1 conference in the country, but you can’t leave that many points on the table. We’re happy to be a top-three team, but we will look to do more outdoors. We finished the meet with a season-best 4x400 relay effort led by Rubin (Williams) and his 46-second split.”
Team captain Michael Hogue became just the second pole vaulter in SEC history to win three consecutive conference indoor titles in the event with his season-best, NCAA provisional-qualifying clearance of 17-6 1/4. The only other athlete to win three straight SEC indoor pole vault titles is Florida’s Will Freeman, who won his titles from 1974-76. Hogue also won the 2007 SEC outdoor pole vault crown and former Vol Chris Helwick won the event outdoors in 2006 to give Tennessee five consecutive SEC pole vault titles, a feat that has only happened four times before. Freshman Joseph Berry took second in his first SEC meet by clearing a personal-best height of 16-10 3/4. Junior Brad Holtz tied for sixth with a 16-4 3/4 clearance, and freshman Michael Ayers followed his third-place finish in the heptathlon with a 15-11 clearance in the vault. Tennessee earned 20.5 points in the pole vault, which was the highest-scoring single event for the Vols at this year’s SEC Indoor Championships.
“I’m thrilled,” Hogue said. “It couldn’t have gone much better. I’m real proud of Joe Berry for being a strong competitor in the strongest SEC field in the last three years. He really stepped up as a freshman. I’m pleased with what happened today. Hopefully this mark will get me to nationals, but I will probably go to Virginia Tech (for a last-chance meet) next week and try to improve it.”
Senior Rubin Williams also defended his conference title in the 200 with a time of 20.68. The 12-time All-America won his third consecutive SEC 200 championship after sweeping the event indoors and outdoors last season. Williams becomes the first SEC athlete to win three consecutive 200 titles since Justin Gatlin won the 2001 outdoor title and both championships in 2002. Sophomore Evander Wells ran an indoor personal-best and NCAA automatic-qualifying time of 20.78 to take second in the 200. Williams and Wells finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the 60 and team captain Matthieu Pritchett got on the board with a seventh-place finish. Pritchett also finished ninth in the 200 in 21.41.
“Winning the 200 is nice, but I wanted to win another team championship,” Williams said. “I’m blessed to run the times I have this year and win the championship, but winning the team championship is more gratifying.”
Tennessee had three scorers in the 800 as well. Senior Yarrick Kincaid led the Vols with his indoor personal-best and NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 1:49.37 and fourth-place finish. Freshman Axel Mostrag was the next Vol across the line, as he placed sixth with a season-best and NCAA provisional-qualifying time of his own in 1:50.25. Senior Andrew Dawson, who has an NCAA provisional-qualifying time from earlier this season, finished eighth in 1:50.96. Kincaid, Nathan Grace, Mostrag and Chris Platt teamed up to finish fourth in the distance medley relay with a time of 9:55.71, a season-best for Tennessee’s relay.
One day after winning his second straight conference crown in the heptathlon, team captain Jangy Addy finished third in the 60 hurdles with a time of 7.77. Addy is automatically qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in both the heptathlon and 60 hurdles and his season-best 7.67 clocking leads the NCAA in the 60 hurdles this year. Sophomore De’Lon Isom finished sixth in the 60 hurdles with a personal-best, NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 7.86. Isom lowered his PR for the second time during these championships and moved into a tie for sixth with Gatlin on Tennessee’s all-time performance list in the event.
Junior Akeem Hardnett bettered his pre-meet ranking to score sixth in the triple jump with a season-best leap of 49-5 1/2. Tennessee’s 4x400 relay team of Samdi Fraser, Kyle Stevenson, Williams and Wells finished third with an NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 3:09.26. Senior Matt Piccarello led the Vols in the 5,000 with his 10th-place, 14:44.91 finish. He was followed by junior Andrew Press in 11th with his time of 14:59.29. Junior Richard Wooten finished 10th in the shot put with a mark of 55-2. Fellow junior Nick Panezich finished 13th in the event with his mark of 54-8 3/4.
Arkansas won the overall team title with 124 points and was followed by LSU in second with 108. Following Tennessee was Florida in fourth with 79.5 points. Georgia’s 72 points rounded out the top five.
SEC Indoor Championships, Fayetteville, Ark.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
|Final Team Standings|
|1.||Richard Thompson, LSU||6.59**|
|4.||Rubin Williams, Tenn.||6.68*|
|6.||Evander Wells, Tenn.||6.72*|
|7.||Matthieu Pritchett, Tenn.||6.78|
|1.||Rubin Williams, Tenn.||20.68**|
|2.||Evander Wells, Tenn.||20.78** SB|
|9.||Matthieu Pritchett, Tenn.||21.41|
|1.||Elkana Kosgei, LSU||1:48.18**|
|4.||Yarrick Kincaid, Tenn.||1:49.37* SB|
|6.||Axel Mostrag, Tenn.||1:50.25* SB|
|8.||Andrew Dawson, Tenn.||1:50.96|
|1.||Tyson David, Ala.||13:52.20*|
|10.||Matt Piccarello, Tenn.||14:44.91|
|11.||Andrew Press, Tenn.||14:59.29|
|1.||Ty Akins, Auburn||7.71*|
|3.||Jangy Addy, Tenn.||7.77*|
|6.||De’Lon Isom, Tenn.||7.86* PR|
|(Fraser, Stevenson, Williams, Wells)|
|Distance medley relay|
|(Kincaid, Grace, Mostrag, Platt)|
|1.||Michael Hogue, Tenn.||17-6 1/4* SB|
|2.||Joseph Berry, Tenn.||16-10 3/4 PR|
|6-t.||Brad Holtz, Tenn.||16-4 3/4|
|14.||Michael Ayers, Tenn.||15-11|
|1.||Nkosinza Balumbu, Ark.||53-5 3/4**|
|6.||Akeem Hardnett, Tenn.||49-5 1/2 SB|
|1.||Beau Burroughs, Fla.||60-9 1/2*|
|10.||Richard Wooten, Tenn.||55-2|
|13.||Nick Panezich, Tenn.||54-8 3/4|
**-NCAA automatic-qualifying mark; *-NCAA provisional-qualifying mark; PR-personal record/career best mark; SB-season-best mark.