April 6, 2010
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Just as sure as the dogwood blossoms will be on display each spring in East Tennessee, so it goes with the annual Sea Ray Relays track & field meet. The 44th edition of the grand old meet will take place this week, Wednesday through Saturday, at the University of Tennessee's newly-refurbished Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.
Around 1,200 competitors from nearly 100 affiliations are slated to appear for the event. In addition to the host University of Tennessee Vols and Lady Vols, a sampling of expected teams includes power conference schools such as Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Seton Hall, South Florida, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Joining UT and Vandy from the Volunteer State are Austin Peay, Bryan, Carson-Newman, Chattanooga, East Tennessee State, Lee, Middle Tennessee and Milligan.
The meet always has drawn its share of professional athletes through the years, and 2010 will be no different. Among the headliners of post-collegiate stars expected to be on hand are former LSU sprints and football great Xavier "X-Man" Carter, the first athlete since Jesse Owens in 1935 and 1936 to win NCAA titles in four events when he did so in 2006. He is entered in the 100 meters at 3:10 p.m. on Friday. Two-time U.S. Olympic hammer thrower A.G. Kruger also is slated to be in the ring on Saturday morning at 8:45 a.m.
On the women's side, there is three-time middle distance U.S. Olympian Hazel Clark-Riley, sister of UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark. She will be joined by five-time Jamaican Olympic sprint medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown and 2008 U.S. 4x400m relay gold medalist Mary Wineberg. Clark-Riley will compete in either the 400m, 800m or 1500m on Friday afternoon and likely participate with a Knoxville Elite relay team on Saturday. Campbell-Brown is entered in the 400m, while Wineberg is slated for the 200m and 400m. Those events are on Friday afternoon as well.
Among the former Lady Vol standouts are Sarah Bowman (1500m), Rolanda Bell (800m, 1500m) and Celriece Law (100m, 100mH). Ex-Vols returning to their alma mater include Andrew Dawson (800m, 1500m), Chris Helwick (decathlon) and Rubin Williams (100m, 200m).
As for the upgrade to the venue, which opened on April 2, 1966, it underwent a major facelift during the winter months in advance of UT playing host to four outdoor meets in 2010, including the SEC Championships on May 13-16. In addition to coating the oval, D and runways with a PolyTan PUR surface and adding new paint striping for the lane lines, the main entry gate was completed, including signage recognizing UT's all-time national and conference champions. Brickwork also has been added to the main press box and seating areas, and wrought iron fencing has replaced chain link fences surrounding the facility.
Action begins Wednesday with the women's heptathlon at 2 p.m. and the men's decathlon at 2:30 p.m. The decathlon resumes at 2 p.m. on Thursday, while day two of the heptathlon gets underway at 3 p.m. The first event involving Tennessee athletes, and the only other one besides the multis on Thursday, is the women's hammer throw at 7 p.m.
Friday features a full slate of running and field events. The men's open discus kicks things off at 12:15 p.m., with the starter's pistol for the women's open 3000 meters scheduled to sound at 12:35 p.m. Sprint and hurdle events start at 2 p.m., top sections of the middle distance races begin at 6 p.m. and the long distance events take place beginning at 7 p.m.
Saturday's final day action beings with the men's hammer at 8:45 p.m. Senior day festivities, the majority of field events and the first of 14 relay races are scheduled to get underway shortly after noon. Action will conclude around 5:45 p.m. with the men's 4x400m relay.
With school in session, parking will be limited on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, UT is expected to open up pay lots around the Student Health Center (at the corner of Andy Holt Ave. and Pat Head Summitt St.) and behind Lindsey Nelson Stadium and Fraternity Park (along Todd Helton Drive).
To see a schedule of events, lists of entered competitors, records and a link to live meet results, please go to the Sea Ray Relays Web site at www.utsports.com/sports/m-track/spec-rel/030509aab.html