#10 Vols finish 4th at NCAA Mideast Regional Championships

May 31, 2008

The 10th-ranked Tennessee men’s track and field team earned six automatic bids for the NCAA Outdoor Championships Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships.

“We had some absolute highs and some near misses,” head coach Bill Webb said. “Joe Berry cleared two lifetime-best bars and performed when the chips were down. Evander (Wells) and Rubin (Williams) had an outstanding meet, qualifying in both sprints and the relay. Charlton (Rolle) and Yarrick (Kincaid) just missed qualifying automatically, and they very well may be picked up as at-large selections for the national meet.”

Joseph Berry extended his winning streak to five in the pole vault and moved to ninth on Tennessee’s all-time performance list in the event. The conference champion and SEC Outdoor Freshman Field Athlete of the Year cleared 17-9 to take Tennessee’s first regional pole vault title and raise his personal-best mark in the event for the second straight meet. The Horsham, Pa., native has won six of eight pole vault competitions this outdoor season.

Four-time All-America Evander Wells moved to third on Tennessee’s all-time performance lists in the 100 and 200 as he ran personal-best times of 10.08 and 20.25, respectively, in the two races. The Stone Mountain, Ga., native finished fourth in the 100 before returning 55 minutes later to finish second in the 200.

“I’m real happy to PR in both races,” Wells said. “I made nationals in both events, which was a goal after I missed (qualifying in) the 100 last year by one spot. My times also guarantee me a spot in the Olympic trials, so it feels good to run that fast, especially after my slow start to the season.”

Fourteen-time All-America Rubin Williams finished just behind Wells in the 100 and moved to eighth on the all-time performance list with his personal-best 10.12 clocking before finishing fourth in the 200 in 20.48. Tennessee’s 4x100 relay team of Blake Jones, Wells, Kyle Stevenson and Williams passed the baton around the track in 38.98 to claim the Vols’ first regional title in that event.

“We had to sub Blake Jones to run the first leg (of the 4x100 relay) and he did an outstanding job after being thrown into the fire in the finals at a big meet,” Webb said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way the relay ran.”

All-America Yarrick Kincaid ran a season-best time of 1:48.62 and missed an automatic berth into the NCAA championships by six-hundredths of a second as he crossed the finish line sixth in the 800. Freshman Charlton Rolle finished sixth in the 110 hurdles with a wind-aided time of 13.78. Tennessee’s 4x400 relay of Samdi Fraser, Nathan Grace, Andrew Dawson and Kyle Stevenson finished eighth after recording a time of 3:09.43.

“Our 4x400 competed well, led by Nathan Grace’s 46.5 split,” Webb said. “We will be waiting to see the national at-large list. It has been a long two days of competition and we hope we don’t have any ramifications of overrunning guys with another big meet in between conference and nationals.”

Sophomore Brad Holtz cleared 16-7 1/4 and placed 11th in the pole vault, while freshman decathlete Michael Ayers vaulted over the bar at 16-1 1/4 for 17th. Junior Nick Panezich placed eighth in the discus with a throw of 178-4 after recording a mark of 185-1 in the hammer earlier in the day.

The Vols tied for fourth in the team race with 51 points. LSU won the meet with 88 points to lead an SEC sweep of the top-six places.

The complete list of selected athletes into the national championship meet is scheduled to be released Wednesday. The NCAA Outdoor Championships are June 11-14 in Des Moines, Iowa.

NCAA Mideast Regional, Fayetteville, Ark.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Team Standings
1. LSU 88
4. Tennessee 51
1. Richard Thompson, LSU 9.97* FR, MR
4. Evander Wells, Tenn. 10.08* PR
5. Rubin Williams, Tenn. 10.12* PR
1. Richard Thompson, LSU 20.21*
2. Evander Wells, Tenn. 20.25* PR
4. Rubin Williams, Tenn. 20.48*
1. Golden Coachman, Miss. St. 1:48.07*
6. Yarrick Kincaid, Tenn. 1:48.62 SB
110 hurdles
1. Ty Akins, Auburn 13.44w*
6. Charlton Rolle, Tenn. 13.78w
4x100 relay
1. Tennessee 38.98*
(Jones, Wells, Stevenson, Williams)
4x400 relay
1. Miss. St. 3:05.62*
8. Tennessee 3:09.43
(Fraser, Grace, Dawson, Stevenson)
Pole vault
1. Joseph Berry, Tenn. 17-9* PR
11. Brad Holtz, Tenn. 16-7 1/4
17. Michael Ayers, Tenn. 16-1 1/4
1. Rashaud Scott, Ky. 199-10*
8. Nick Panezich, Tenn. 178-4
Hammer throw
1. Cory Martin, Auburn 239-10* MR, FR
23. Nick Panezich, Tenn. 185-1
-- Richard Wooten, Tenn. Foul
*-Advanced to NCAA Outdoor Championships; MR-NCAA Mideast Regional meet record; FR-John McDonnell Field facility record; PR-personal-best mark; SB-season-best mark; w-wind-aided mark


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