“We are going with a full squad,” head coach Bill Webb said. “Auburn has a brand-new track and we will use this weekend as a tune up for conference. Hopefully the weather situation will be better than it was at Georgia Tech. The meet will be run very well at another SEC school. Our guys will continue to prepare and take steps towards the conference championship meet. We know it will be hot and have good competition and that’s about all we can ask for.”
Tennessee sends its largest contingent out in the 3,000 as five Vols are entered in the event. Seniors Matt Piccarello and Chris Platt lead the group, as Piccarello placed 13th in the event at the Baldy Castillo Invitational and Platt recorded the fastest indoor 3,000 time on the team this season. Juniors Andrew Press and Steve Tobin and freshman Michael Spooner also are entered in the 3,000. Freshman Chris Rapp, who ran a personal-best time in the 3,000 two weeks ago, attempts his first collegiate steeplechase and is Tennessee’s only representative in the event.
The Vols send four runners to the starting line of the 100, 200 and 1,500. Four-time All-America Evander Wells, two-time All-America Matthieu Pritchett and All-America Kyle Stevenson team with senior Blake Jones to contest the 100-200 double. All-America Yarrick Kincaid joins fellow 800 runner Andrew Dawson, as well as Rapp and Tobin, in the 1,500.
Tennessee also has large representation in the long jump and pole vault, with four athletes entered in each. Three-time All-America Michael Hogue leads the pole vault contingent, which also features regional-qualifier Brad Holtz and freshmen Michael Ayers and Joseph Berry. Ayers and Berry finished in a tie for second in the event at last week’s Yellow Jacket Invitational. Sophomore Brenard Wilson leads the Vols in the long jump after a personal-best leap at the Baldy Castillo Invitational. The Nashville native is joined in the event by sophomore Jonathan Fluellen, freshman Charlton Rolle and Ayers. Ayers and Wilson also are entered in the high jump.
UT’s junior throwing trio handles the four throwing events this weekend. Richard Wooten, Nick Panezich and Matthew Maloney are all expected to throw the hammer, an event in which Wooten and Panezich have surpassed the regional-qualifying mark. Maloney, Tennessee’s lone representative in the javelin, has a regional-qualifying throw of his own in that event. Wooten and Panezich also are entered in the shot put, with Panezich already owning a regional-qualifying mark in that event. Panezich and Ayers are expected to also throw the discus.
Indoor SEC All-Freshman honoree Axel Mostrag competes in his specialty, the 800, for the first time during the outdoor season. Mostrag is joined by fellow freshman Mike Brodsky, who recorded a personal-best time in the 1,500 last weekend, and sophomore Justin Hansen. Sophomores Samdi Fraser and Nathan Grace are joined by senior Paul Cross in the 400. Grace ran to a personal-best time in the event last weekend, while Fraser lowered his 200 personal-best time at the season-opening Baldy Castillo Invitational.
Ayers joins Rolle and sophomore De’Lon Isom in the 110 hurdles. Isom and Rolle each already have regionally-qualified times in the event this season. The duo also is entered in the 400 hurdles, along with sophomore John Hewitt, who lowered his personal-best time in the event while finishing second as Rolle won the race two weeks ago. Junior Akeem Hardnett looks to make his season debut in the triple jump after the event was rained out last weekend in Atlanta.
Tennessee is making its first appearance at Auburn since competing in the SEC Quad on April 1, 2000. In addition to the host Tigers, SEC foes Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina, as well as 23rd-ranked Clemson, are among the 18 teams appearing in Auburn this weekend.
The Tiger Track Classic begins Friday afternoon with the hammer throw. The rest of the meet kicks off at noon Eastern time Saturday and concludes with the 5,000 at 7:30 p.m. Live results can be found throughout the competition at UTsports.com.