June 2, 2009
The Tennessee men's track and field team will have eight athletes competing June 10-13 at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., it was announced Tuesday.
Two athletes earned automatic bids based on their performances at the Mideast Regional. Charlton Rolle finished third in the 110m hurdles at 13.77 and Nick Panezich placed third in the shot put at 18.23m (59-9.75). Rolle will be at the NCAA Championships for the second time after finishing 15th last season, and Panezich will make his first NCAA outdoor appearance after finishing 10th in the shot put indoors this season.
Five other Vols punched their tickets on the strength of elite performances from the 2009 season. Michael Ayers will make his second NCAA appearance after picking up an at-large bid in the decathlon from his 7,480-point effort at the Sea Ray Relays. Ayers will look to improve on his 12th-place, All-America finish from the 2008 NCAA decathlon.
Joe Berry cleared 5.38m (17-7.75) in the pole vault to win his third straight SEC Championship last month, and that mark ranked high enough nationally to earn the sophomore his second-career NCAA bid. He finished 10th in 2008.
Akeem Hardnett narrowly missed an automatic bid in the triple jump with his sixth-place finish at the NCAA Mideast Regional, but the mark he posted there, 15.95m (52-4), ranked high enough on the national list to gain the senior his first-ever NCAA bid.
Evander Wells will make his third career NCAA outdoor appearance and run the 100m in search of his ninth All-America certificate. His top time of 10.26 earned him an at-large bid despite his ninth-place finish at the Mideast Regional.
Six of UT's eight competitors will be in action on June 10 as the decathlon and individual event qualification begins. Rolle does not begin qualifying in the 110m hurdles until June 11, and Hardnett triple jumps for the first time on June 12.