May 12, 2009
The Tennessee men's track and field team travels to Gainesville, Fla., for the SEC Championships, held Thursday through Sunday at Pearcy Beard Track on the campus of the University of Florida. The Vols have entered 25 athletes, including all 14 of their NCAA regional qualifiers and four defending conference champions.
The meet begins with the decathlon on Thursday and Friday, while individual events begin in earnest on Saturday and run through the day Sunday. Among the 12 conference schools, seven are ranked in the top 25 by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. No. 1 Florida, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 9 LSU and No. 10 South Carolina will be the major roadblocks between Tennessee and the program's 26th all-time outdoor conference championship.
"This is a great track meet every year, and it will be great again this year," Tennessee head coach Bill Webb said. "We prepare our guys to peak at this meet and at the NCAA Championships, and we have a history of being successful in doing it. With the conference as deep as it is this year, we will need all our top guys to do well and some of our young guys to step up and grab points."
Tennessee's top individual entrants include Michael Ayers, the SEC Champion in the heptathlon indoors and a third-place finisher and All-America honoree in the decathlon outdoors in 2008. Joe Berry, a two-time defending SEC Champion in the pole vault leads a contingent of four UT vaulters into action that includes Ayers, Michael Seaman and Brad Holtz.
Nick Panezich is entered in shot put, hammer throw and discus and can score points for the Vols in all three. He claimed the conference title in the shot put indoors earlier this season. He is joined by Richard Wooten, who has scored a total of five times outdoors in his career in the shot put and hammer throw.
Brenard Wilson will defend his 2009 indoor title in the high jump and participate in the long jump, while Akeem Hardnett will look to improve on his fourth-place conference indoor finish in the triple jump.
In the 800m, Joseph Franklin and Emerson Peacock could both threaten for a conference title, while runners Chris Rapp, Michael Spooner and Steve Tobin will try to climb into scoring contention in the distance events.
The meet begins with the decathlon 100m at 3 p.m. on Thursday. Live results are available at UTsports.com throughout all four days of competition.
HOLTZ NAMED TO SEC COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM
Tennessee junior Brad Holtz was named to the 2009 SEC Community Service Team, the league office announced Tuesday. Holtz was selected as Tennessee's male representative for track and field because of his numerous contributions to the Knoxville community.
Holtz served as the track and field team chair for the "Teams for Toys" program during the holiday season, which made each UT team responsible for purchasing gifts for a group of underprivileged children in the Knoxville area, wrapping them and delivering them. He also helped the track and field team on a Habitat for Humanity project in downtown Knoxville during the fall of 2008. The Barrington, R.I. native joined other track athletes on their annual fall trip to the East Tennessee Children's Hospital to visit patients and families as well.
He assisted several UT athletes in opening up a campus dining hall for the homeless and underprivileged on Thanksgiving, and was one of several UT athletes to serve hot chocolate to UT students on the pedestrian walkway during the winter.
The SEC sponsors Community Service Teams for all 20 league sponsored sports. The Community Service Team looks to highlight an athlete from each school who gives back to his community in superior service efforts.