NCAA Meet Notes
The second-ranked Tennessee men's track and field team puts its high ranking to the final test this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
"We are going with a senior-laden group that has a lot of experience," head coach Bill Webb said. "They are battled tested after running the SEC meet at Arkansas and competing well in New York (at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational). We always view ourselves as a top-10 team and this year is no different. If we get a few breaks and our guys perform like they have all year we can finish much higher than that. I think 20 points will put a team in the top 10 and 30 points will probably get in the top five."
The Vols have eight performances by five athletes that were accepted into the national championship meet. All five athletes entered from Tennessee have earned All-America acclaim at previous NCAA meets. Senior Rubin Williams leads the group, which also includes team captains Jangy Addy, Michael Hogue and Matthieu Pritchett, as well as the lone underclassman, sophomore Evander Wells. The Vols finished in a tie for 10th at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships with 21 points.
Williams enters the weekend with the fastest 200-meter time in the NCAA this season. His indoor personal-best time of 20.55 seconds, recorded during the preliminaries of this year's SEC Indoor Championships, also is the second-fastest time in the world this year. The senior from San Jose, Calif., won his second straight indoor 200 title, and third consecutive overall 200 SEC championship, at the conference championship meet two weeks ago after sweeping both the indoor and outdoor crowns last year. He also is tied for seventh on the NCAA list in the 60 with his season-best time of 6.64. Williams is looking to become Tennessee's most decorated track All-America, as his 12 All-America honors currently ties him with Justin Gatlin and Leonard Scott for the most in school history.
Addy also enters the meet with an NCAA-leading time in the 60 hurdles. He clocked a blazing 7.67, which is tied with Willie Gault for third on Tennessee's all-time performance list in the event, during the preliminaries at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. The senior from Norcross, Ga., also is ranked third in the heptathlon after winning his second straight conference crown in the event with a personal-best score of 5,836 that ranks third on Tennessee's all-time performance list and included a world-record tying time of 7.74 in the heptathlon 60 hurdles.
Wells is the final Vol entered in two events, as he was accepted in the 60 and 200. The three-time All-America from Stone Mountain, Ga., enters with the fourth-fastest 200 time in the NCAA and seventh-fastest mark in the 60. His indoor personal-best time of 20.78 in the 200, recorded while finishing second to Williams at the conference championship meet, also ranks him fifth on this year's world list in the event. Wells is tied with Williams for fourth on Tennessee's all-time performance list in the 60 with his personal-best time of 6.64 from the preliminaries at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Wells also won the 55 at the Virginia Tech Invitational to open the season.
Hogue looks to add another All-America certificate to the two already in his possession. The Germantown native won his third straight SEC indoor pole vault title two weeks ago, becoming just the second person in conference history to win three consecutive indoor pole vault titles. He enters the national championship meet with his 17-6 1/4 clearance from the SEC championships ranking 14th in the nation. Hogue earned his first All-America honor at this meet last year with a fifth-place finish by clearing a personal-best height of 17-8 1/2 that ranks ninth on Tennessee's all-time performance list in the event.
Pritchett travels to his first NCAA indoor meet and first NCAA meet as an individual after leading off Tennessee's 4x100 relay at the NCAA Outdoor Championships the past two seasons. The Enka-Candler, N.C., native ran his way into the meet with a personal-best 6.68 clocking while winning the Virginia Tech Last Chance this past weekend. His time ranks ninth on Tennessee's all-time performance list in the event and 16th in the NCAA this season.
"We have a tradition of stepping up at big meets, and this year should be no different" Webb said. "All of our athletes have high expectations for themselves, and we have high expectations for them. The SEC should be well represented as we have four of the top-six teams in this week's rankings."
The NCAA Indoor Championships begin inside the Randal Tyson Track Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas with the heptathlon at 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday. The meet concludes Saturday afternoon with the 4x400 relay scheduled to begin at 9:05 p.m. Live results will be available throughout the championships at UTsports.com.