Tennessee's seventh-ranked track team won five events and stood as the top collegiate finisher in another three events at the New Year's Invitational at Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon. Leonard Scott's return to the track headlined the Vol action as the junior won the 60M dash in 6.63, a strong provisional time for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Freshman Justin Gatlin, who already owns an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 60M dash (6.61), defended his undefeated streak in the sprints by winning the 200M dash in 21.31, just .06 off a provisional qualifying time. Gatlin finished fifth (third among collegiate competitors) in the 60M hurdles with a time of 8.06. The Tennessee 4x400M relay team took home gold with a time of 3:13.84. Shannon Wheatley led off and ran the fastest split of 47.9. Hassaan Stamps and Gatlin ran the second and third legs, respectively. Dwayne Bell ran the anchor and had the second-fastest leg (48.1). Stephen Harris won the high jump with a mark of 6-7. Shot putter Tyler Garrett won with a 53-1 1/2 throw.
Rob Cloutier was the top collegiate finisher in the 800M run with a 1:55.62 timing. Clint Binder was the first collegiate finisher in the pole vault with a 16-0 3/4 clearance. Additionally, Rondell Mershon was the first collegiate finisher in the triple jump with a 46-8 measurement.
The women's team captured first place in three events and registered runner-up performances in two others in Saturday's meet. In a non-scored competition also featuring athletes from Appalachian State, North Carolina State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, Lady Vols Christie Elwin and Diane Slinden snagged individual victories in the pole vault and shotput, respectively, while the distance medley relay combination of freshman Erin Anderson and Christina Clark, and sophomores Kameisha Bennett and Sharon Dickie crossed the finish line first.
Elwin, from Adelaide, Australia, claimed top honors in the vault and posted UT's first NCAA provisional qualifying mark of the season.
Slinden, meanwhile, bested the field in the shot put with a heave of 43-1.75/13.15m, taking first by just over two inches.
As for the distance medley relay, UT's time of 12:15.82 was an impressive 10 seconds faster than that of second-place Virginia Tech. Relay splits included 3:51 from Anderson, 61.8 from Clark, 2:15 from Bennett and 5:06 from Dickie. No less enjoyable than the victories were second-place efforts from long jumper Erica Tittsworth and high jumper Kelly Flowers. Tittsworth made a successful return to jump competition from last year's ACL tear in her left knee with a leap of 19-0.50/5.80m. She missed tying for first by only an inch. Flowers cleared four heights, including her runner-up effort of 5-5.75/1.67m, to record a career best.
Tennessee will face South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky on Saturday, Jan. 20 in the SEC Quad in Lexington, Ky.