Sickness and an unexpected fall were too much to overcome for the Tennessee men's track and field team at the NCAA outdoor championships.
The squad finished the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships in seventh Saturday night at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium.
Kikaya's fourth-place finish in the 400m dash and Karl Jennings' fifth-place effort in the 110m hurdles added nine more points to bump the final team total to 30 points.
Both Kikaya and Jennings peaked to run their fastest times in the three rounds of the NCAA Championships in their respective finals.
Arkansas took its first NCAA outdoor title since 1999 with a distance-powered 59 points. Auburn nabbed runner-up honors with 50 points. Six of the top-10 teams were from the SEC.
"Team-wise, our meet was a little disappointing but understandably so with some of the things that happened," head coach Bill Webb said. "We just had an up and down meet. There were three or four places where we could have scored considerably more points. I did like our effort.
"We finished seventh, and most teams would love to be there. But this is Tennessee and we're accustomed to higher, but our guys competed hard."
Kikaya's five points for finishing fourth pushed the Vols up to 30 total points and moved them into a final-day high of tied for second. However, scoring the remaining events dropped the Vols back down as they didn't have any more scoring chances.
Just one lane away from the grandstand, 110m hurdler Jennings took fifth with a time of 13.65. Jennings stood sixth or seventh at the third hurdle but accelerated with a strong close on the last 50 meters.
Jennings earned his first outdoor All-America certificate and second overall as he called it a collegiate career.
Tennessee's NCAA experience was sometimes exhilarating, sometimes perplexing and sometimes frustrating. Despite being stripped of national-caliber talent from the 2002 NCAA indoor championship team and NCAA runner-up outdoor team, the Vols hoped to slip in and nab another NCAA trophy.
Tennessee did strike gold Thursday with senior captain Stephen Harris' decathlon triumph and hit a vein of silver in the 4x100m relay courtesy of Jabari Greer, Kikaya, Sean Lambert and Jonathan Wade.
Lambert's surprise 100m dash sixth-place finish Friday and Kikaya's and Jennings' fourth and fifth-place Saturday finishes, respectively, helped, but the Volunteers never found the boom they wanted.
Tennessee ran its updated All-America total to seven courtesy of Harris, the 4x100m relay, Kikaya, Jennings and Lambert, plus Leigh Smith and Rocky Danners making the cut as one of the top-eight Americans.
Two Vols with NCAA-leading times in Marc Sylvester (800m) and Greer (110m hurdles), though, came up empty in the points race because of illness (Sylvester) and the bad fortune of tripping (Greer). Meanwhile, illness also claimed a scoring chance in decathlete Kevin Thompson.
The finish was Tennessee's lowest since the 2000 NCAA Outdoor meet at Duke in Durham, N.C., where the Vols placed 15th with 17 points.
Greer, Harris, Sylvester and Leigh Smith (javelin) remain in the Golden State with a group of former Vols for USA Nationals next week.
Kikaya and Jennings will try their hand in international competition - Kikaya for the Congo and Jennings for Canada, where he grew up before moving to New Jersey.
Illness plagues Vols' title run
Published: Tue Jun 17, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:10 p.m.