Track Struggles in NCAA tournament

The Tennessee Volunteers track & field team finished tied for 77th at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The Lady Vols did not score at the meet for the first time since 2000 as a combined 12 student-athletes competed at the University of Oregon in the four-day event.

Capping off an outstanding campaign for the Tennessee pole vaulters, sophomore Tyler Porter scored a lifetime best on Wednesday night, resulting in a tie for seventh place at historic Hayward Field. The Vols filled three of the 24 pole vaulting spots, more than any other school.

Despite entering the meet with a personal record of 17-feet, 5-inches (5.31-meters), Porter cleared 16-8.75 (5.10m), 17-2.75 (5.25m) and 17-8.50 (5.40m) on his first attempts, before coming up shy at 18-0.50 (5.50m). On his second attempt at 5.50m, Porter actually snapped his pole into three pieces.

Finishing in a four-way tie for seventh, the Jefferson, Ga., native earned .75 points for the Volunteers on the opening day of action. With teammate Chase Brannon finishing eighth a season ago, Porter becomes just the third UT vaulter to score at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 2002.

Freshman Jake Blankenship, who entered the meet with the No. 5 mark in the NCAA, cleared 5.10m and 5.25m on his first attempts, but fell short of the 5.25m mark to end up in a tie for 15th. Tennessee was the only team to have three vaulters in the 24-man field.

On the track, the Vol 4×100-meter relay entered the meet with the sixth-fastest time (39.58s) at NCAA Regionals, but had a hiccup in the first exchange in the semifinals on Wednesday. Leadoff leg Arnez Hardnick was off to a good start out of lane six for the Vols, but the baton hit the track during the exchange with Jarael Nelvis, resulting in disqualification. Hardnick, Nelvis, Reggie Juin and Jamol Jaames – the same foursome as this season – finished seventh at last season’s NCAA Outdoor Championships. All four return for the Vols next year.

The Lady Vols were unable to advance any of their three participants on Wednesday. Coming off a UT freshman record performance of 52.33 seconds at the NCAA East Preliminary meet, Felicia Brown finished 15th in the 400m in a time of 53.05. In the women’s 800m, senior Nijgia Snapp crossed the line in 2 minutes, 9.07 seconds to finish 20th overall.

After recording a lifetime best mark of 20-1 (6.12m) in the long jump at the NCAA East Prelims, senior Kia Jackson closed her Tennessee career with a 24th-place finish in the event. Jackson hit 18-3.25 (5.57m) on her first attempt and fouled on her final two jumps. Jackson had a great second leap which appeared to be over 20-feet, but her foot was inches over the board.

The only Tennessee track & field performer on day three, sophomore thrower Tavis Bailey placed 19th in the men’s discus competition with a mark of 177-feet, 9-inches (54.18m) on Friday.

Throwing ninth in the opening heat, Bailey fouled on his opening throw of the event, stepping just outside the circle. It was the Kannapolis, N.C., native’s second throw that earned him the mark, hitting 54.18-meters. Bailey, who came in with a lifetime best throw of 196-6 (59.91m) set earlier this season, also fouled on his third and final attempt. He was the last of 24 qualifiers at the NCAA Preliminary meets.

Redshirt freshman Kyle Quinn posted a top-10 finish in the men’s javelin throw on Saturday.

Throwing seventh in the second and final flight, Quinn eclipsed 70-meters for just the second time of his career with a mark of 229-feet, 8-inches (70.01m) on his opening throw. With the top nine overall performers advancing to the finals, that mark moved the rookie into eighth place overall and second in his heat at the time. Quinn was bumped to ninth when Texas A&M’s Sam Humphreys moved into the overall lead with a toss of 253-7 (77.31m) later in the opening round.

Quinn, who won the Florida Relays this season with a lifetime best throw of 231-7 (70.59m), was unable to improve his mark in his final two attempts, leaving him on the bubble in ninth. Just two throwers after Quinn, Oregon’s Sam Crouser – who stood in 10th – hauled the javelin to 239-8 (73.07m) on his third and final attempt to burst the UT freshman’s bubble and knock him out of the final round.

The Somerset, Mass., native would place 10th overall, the best finish by a Vol javelin thrower since 2007 when Matt Maloney took eighth at the NCAA meet.

 Tyler Porter Vaulter Magazine

Tyler Porter Vaulter Magazine


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