May 13, 2007
After finishing second in the last three conference championship meets, the Tennessee men's track and field team won the 25th SEC outdoor championship in school history, and first since 2002, Sunday after putting up 129.5 points during the four-day meet.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the win" head coach Bill Webb said. "I want to congratulate all of our guys for competing and keeping their focus under adversity. Our assistant coaches, George Watts and Norbert Elliot, did a great job, as well as our training staff, Dr. Michael Petty and Matt Shaner. It took a lot of work behind the scenes to make this happen.
LSU finished second with 122 points, while Arkansas placed third with 100. Georgia scored 78 points and Florida ended with 75.5 to round out the top-five finishers.
UT now owns one-third of the conference outdoor titles after claiming the 75th version of the event this weekend. Tennessee's 25 SEC outdoor championships are the most of any school in the conference, three more than LSU's 22. The Vols last won an SEC outdoor crown in 2002 as they claimed their second of back-to-back conference titles.
Tennessee started strong on the track as the Vols 4x100 relay team of Matthieu Pritchett, Evander Wells, Kyle Stevenson and Rubin Williams won the first race of the day in 38.91. The quartet's time stands as the fifth-fastest in school history and the second-fastest in the NCAA so far this season.
"It all came together out there for us today," Pritchett said. "We knew there was not a better 4x100 team out there and we just had to have clean handoffs. We did that and the win was ours.
After leading since the pole vault concluded Saturday afternoon, the Vols found themselves trailing by 1.5 points after the 400 hurdles. The team didn't stay in second place long as Tennessee took three of the top-five positions in the very next event. Williams successfully defended his indoor title in the 200 with a season-best time of 20.60, which is the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA this season. Wells, a freshman from Stone Mountain, Ga., finished second with his time of 20.71 and Stevenson, a freshman from Memphis, finished fifth in 21.15.
"It's a big deal to win the 200, but it's something I've already accomplished," Williams said. "My biggest goal was to win a team championship. We finally came together as a whole team and everyone stepped up. The points we gained in the 200 were big.
Wells led the Vols in the 100 as he ran the straightaway in 10.35 to place third. Williams and Pritchett finished fifth and sixth after running times of 10.38 and 10.51, respectively.
Team captain Tyler DeVault finished fifth after advancing from seventh coming out of the last turn of the 1,500 and recording a time of 3:47.41. Andrew Dawson lowered his personal-best time in the 800 for the second time in these championships as he finished fourth in 1:48.98. Yarrick Kincaid crossed the finish line next as he placed fifth with a time of 1:49.35.
Akeem Hardnett and Carjay Lyles each recorded personal-best and regional-qualifying marks in the triple jump, which was the first event of the day. Hardnett, who was already qualified for the Mideast Regional entering the weekend, finished fourth with his mark of 50-4. Lyles added his name to the list of regional qualifiers and placed fifth with his jump of 50-3 1/2.
Tennessee's 4x400 relay team of Jacob Dennis, Wells, Samdi Fraser and Williams finished sixth after running a season-best time of 3:07.93.
In the only other field event of the day, Richard Wooten finished fifth in the shot put with his season-best mark of 57-3 3/4. Sophomore Nick Panezich recorded a throw of 55-1 1/2 in the event and placed 10th.
Freshman De'Lon Isom earned his first points at an SEC meet as he placed eighth in the 110 hurdles with his time of 14.28. DeVault led the Vols in the 5,000 as he finished 15th in his first race at that distance this season. Senior Andy Baksa, who finished seventh in the 10,000 Friday night, placed 17th in the 5,000. Matt Piccarello and Ben Lukowski finished 19th and 31st, respectively.
Substituting the 4x100 relay for the distance medley relay, which is only contested indoors, Tennessee defended its four conference indoor titles as Jangy Addy won the decathlon Friday, Michael Hogue won the pole vault Saturday, Williams claimed the 200 title and the Vols quartet took top honors in the 4x100 relay.
"The victory was a total team effort," Webb said. "We scored in almost every event. It doesn't get any better than hearing Rocky Top sung in Tuscaloosa.
SEC Outdoor Championships, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
1. Tennessee 129.5
2. LSU 122
3. Arkansas 100
4. Georgia 78
5. Florida 75.5
6. Auburn 74
7. Mississippi 65
8. South Carolina 62
9. Alabama 47
10. Kentucky 36
11. Mississippi State 30