The fifth-ranked Tennessee men's track and field team concludes the collegiate season with the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which runs Wednesday through Saturday in Sacramento, Calif.
"This has been an outstanding year so far," head coach Bill Webb said. "I look for our guys to compete the same way they did at SECs and the regional meet. We are sending a nice blend of veterans and youngsters to the NCAA meet. There are high expectations based on our rankings in the polls, but our program has always had high expectations from within. We always want to be a top-10 team at nationals.
Tennessee boasts 13 entries in the national championship meet, which ranks third in the country. Only Nebraska's 15 and Oklahoma's 14 entries top the Vols.
Team captains Jangy Addy and Chris Helwick kick off competition for the Vols as both athletes are entered in the decathlon. Helwick, a six-time All-America, finished second in the event at last year's national championships. Addy is making his first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after winning the SEC title in the heptathlon indoors and the decathlon outdoors.
Freshman Evander Wells enters the NCAA championships with the third-fastest collegiate clocking and a regional championship in the 200. His season-best time of 20.43 ranks fifth on Tennessee's all-time performance list in the event. Junior Rubin Williams enters the 200 after winning the SEC title in the event at both the indoor and outdoor conference championship meets. The nine-time All-America also is entered in the 100. Freshman Kyle Stevenson joins Wells and Williams in the 200 after trio scored 22 points in the event at the SEC Outdoor Championships to clinch the team title for Tennessee.
The Vols 4x100 relay team of Matthieu Pritchett, Wells, Stevenson and Williams enters the meet with the second-fastest time in the NCAA. The quartet blazed to a time of 38.91, which ranks fifth on Tennessee's all-time performance list, while winning the event at the conference championships.
"The 200, decathlon and 4x100 relay will be big events for us," Webb said. "The meet is hard to score because you have the top-25 athletes in each event running trials, semifinals and finals and getting in the top-eight is difficult.
Three-time SEC champion Michael Hogue makes his outdoor national championship debut after finishing fifth in the pole vault at the Mideast Regional. The junior from Germantown won the SEC championship in the pole vault at the indoor and outdoor conference championship meets and earned All-America acclaim with his fifth-place finish at the indoor national championships.
SEC runner-up Matthew Maloney also makes his national championship debut in his first season at Tennessee after transferring before the season started. Maloney finished second in the javelin at the SEC Outdoor Championships while recording a throw of 232-7 that ranks sixth on Tennessee's all-time performance list. Carjay Lyles jumped his way to the NCAA Outdoor Championships by finishing fourth in the triple jump at the Mideast Regional. Lyles improved his personal-best jump by more than a foot and a half at that meet while recording the seventh-longest jump in school history.
Junior Yarrick Kincaid returns to the national championships for the second consecutive season. The Knoxville native finished third in the 800 at the last two Mideast Regionals and recorded the 10th-fastest time in school history during this year's competition. Freshman De'Lon Isom makes his first national championship appearance after finishing eighth in the 110 hurdles at the SEC Outdoor Championships and 11th in the event at the Mideast Regional.
Tennessee's 4x400 relay team of Samdi Fraser, Jacob Dennis, Nathan Grace and Stevenson finished fourth at the Mideast Regional with a season-best clocking of 3:07.15. Junior Andrew Dawson is expected to replace Stevenson on the relay during the preliminaries, but Stevenson would still be eligible to run in the finals.
"A good thing we have going for us is the fact that we are battle tested through the SEC," Webb said. "Our 4x400 relay team is a great example of that as they stepped it up at the regional meet and ran a season-best time with three freshmen. The competition is going to be tough, but we will represent the Orange well. We have high expectations and we could be right in the team race with a little luck.
The NCAA Outdoor Championships, hosted by Sacramento State University, begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. Pacific time with the first event of the decathlon. The 4x400 relay is scheduled to conclude the meet at 11:36 a.m. on Saturday. CBS will broadcast live footage of the finals from 1-3 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, while CSTV will air footage Friday from 8-11 p.m. Live results can be found throughout the competition at UTsports.com.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information
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