COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Last year, UT senior decathlete Stephen Harris had an agonizingly tough time in the pole vault, no heighting at two decathlons and finally qualifying for the NCAAs at a last chance affair.
This year there will be no such suspense. Harris won the College Station Decathlon at Texas A&M on Saturday with an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Outdoors.
Harris won four of the 10 decathlon events to push his lifetime-best score to 8,103, the second-best regular season score ever by a Vol, behind only Tom Pappas' NCAA record score of 8,463.
Harris' 8,103 tally stands as the fourth-best Vol score overall. Harris, the SEC pentathlon champion, got the meet off to a blazing start with a 4,379 score after the first five events, the second-best in Vol history.
In fact, Harris' marks in winning the decathlon high jump (7-0.25) and long jump (25-1.75) stand strong enough to qualify for the Regional Championships, a new method of determining NCAA participants, in those separate events. His overall decathlon score of 8,103 is an automatic qualifier for NCAAs, as the decathlon and 10,000m run are the only two events that still use the old automatic/provisional mark qualifying system.
"I'm really pleased Stephen Harris came out and got his big score early," Tennessee coach Bill Webb said. "That's just a terrific score this early in the season.
"He'll be pegged as an early favorite for nationals, and he doesn't have a problem with that."
Lady Vol netters roll through Spring Break
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The 10th-rated University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis squad notched an impressive come-from-behind victory over No. 8 North Carolina on Saturday, earning its seventh-straight win by a 5-2 margin.
The Lady Vols are now 15-3 on the year, and they have won 12 consecutive decisions over UNC, dating back to the 1991 season.
"This was a tough match for us," said UT co-head coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick. "It was the first time we had played North Carolina outside for quite some time. UNC was very competitive, but we kept plugging away, and I told the team to think of it as an endurance race."
The Lady Vols also beat BYU and Utah on a road trip through the beehive state during Spring Break. Their last Spring Break match was at No. 4 Duke on Sunday, but results weren't available at press time.
Softball splits with Mississippi State
Lady Vol freshman Stacey Jennings rebounded from a shaky outing on Thursday against Princeton by tossing her fifth shutout of the season on Saturday afternoon in an 8-0 romp over Mississippi State at Tyson Park.
The Lady Bulldogs (23-11, 3-5 SEC) earned a doubleheader split with Tennessee (24-12, 3-5) in an 11-7 slugfest win in game two Saturday.
The rubber match of the series was Sunday, but results weren't available at press time.