April 7, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The 2010 track & field season began on Jan. 15 with the first indoor meet. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the 24th-ranked Tennessee track & field teams will finally get a chance to compete at home, gracing the newly-refurbished surface at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium for the 44th-annual Sea Ray Relays.
Most of the Big Orange competitors will first see action on Friday, beginning with the men's discus throw at 12:15 p.m. and concluding with the men's 10,000m run at 8:30 p.m. On Thursday, however, the Lady Vols will be represented in the hammer throw, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. after the conclusion of the men's decathlon and women's heptathlon. Final day action on Saturday is set to begin at 8:45 a.m. (men's hammer) and 12:15 p.m. (women's discus) and wrap up at 5:45 p.m. with the men's 4x400m relay.
"This is the first time we get to show the country the facelift our facility has undergone," UT Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark said. "It looks very, very good, and we're just excited to compete on our "new" track and have our first home meet of the season as a combined program. The coaches, our athletes and our administration are ready to get the venue warmed up before we host the SEC Championships here later this season (May 13-16).
"Our coaching staff is looking for good performances from Evander Wells in the sprints, in the throws from Matt Maloney and Jessie Harrison, from Brad Holtz in the pole vault and on down the line. Really, we're just aiming to continue improving on what we've started in the first two weeks of the outdoor season and build for the championship part of the year."
Tennessee has 10 athletes ranked among the top 20 in the nation in an array of events. Wells and Lady Vols Jackie Areson and Phoebe Wright light the way, with Wells owning a world-leading time of 20.47 in the 200 meters, Areson topping the country in the 5000 meters (15:51.56) and Wright possessing the No. 2 mark in the NCAA in the 800m (2:05.98) and the No. 4 readout in the 1500m (4:18.29).
The others rated high nationally include Brittany Sheffey (8th, w1500m, 4:18.29), Kyle Stevenson (9th, m200m, 20.88), Peter Sigilai (11th, m800m, 1:49.52), Ellen Wortham (13th, w400mH, 58.47), Brad Holtz (14th, mPole Vault, 17-2 3/4) and the men's 4x100m relay combo of Stevenson, Wells, Desmond Brown and Samdi Fraser (14th, 39.93).
Tennessee returns five Sea Rays victors from a year ago. Those winners include Annie Alexander (wShot Put, wDiscus), Areson (w3000m), Robert Rasnick (MOpen Pole Vault), Wells (m200m) and Wright (w400m). The Lady Vols have two returnees each from winning 4x100m and 4x1500m relays in 2009.