Tennessee closed out the SEC Track and Field Indoor Championships on Sunday by climbing to fourth place with 69 points in Florida's O'Connell Center.
While the effort marked the Vols' lowest SEC Indoor team finish since 2000, Tennessee crowned three individual champions and did a much better job of maximizing its points on the meet's closing day. In addition to captain Stephen Harris' pentathlon championship from Friday, Jabari Greer and Gary Kikaya sparked a final-day rally with SEC titles in the 55-meter hurdles and 400m dash, respectively.
Fueled by a monster 80 points in the mile, 3,000m and 5,000m runs, Arkansas took the team title with 120 points. Host Florida took runner-up with 90.5 points. South Carolina finished third with 78.5 points.
"Even though the score doesn't indicate our effort, we had three SEC champions and a number of lifetime bests," UT coach Bill Webb said. "We'll be a better team outdoors. We look forward to the SEC Outdoor Championships to get back in a position to defend our title in Knoxville."
Headlining a day full of bold performances, Greer's championship 55m hurdles time of 7.13 stands as the fourth-fastest time in school history.
Gary Kikaya entered the meet as the favorite in the 400m dash. He likewise leaves Gainesville as the favorite after capturing the 400m dash title in 46.36.
The Vols 4x400m relay team of Kikaya, Harris, Sean Lambert and Dwayne Bell finished third with a 3:09.93, their season best and a provisional qualifier to leave them on the bubble for the NCAA Indoors.
Lambert chipped in nine and a half points to the Vol cause with his fifth-place finishes in the 55m and 200m dashes and the second leg on the third-place 4x400m relay.
In an elite field, Patrick Gildea gave the Vols a boost in the 5,000m run with a gritty career-best time of 14:20.82, 15 seconds faster than he had ever run the event. He finished in fifth place.
Freshman Jonathan Wade took seventh with a time of 21.82 in the 200m to score in his first SEC meet.
With 25 points on the meet's final day, the Lady Vols finished in ninth place at the meet.
Christie Elwin broke her own school record and finished fourth in the pole vault. Nicole Cook and Sharon Dickie contributed fourth-place efforts in the 800m and 5000m, respectively.
"We have a long way to go to get the program where I want it to be," Lady Vol coach J.J. Clark said. "I will have to be very poised and patient in a conference that contains so many teams of a high level."
No. 8 Arkansas ran away with its third indoor title in the past four years, tallying 129 to outdistance second-place No. 5 South Carolina (108.50). No. 4 Florida was third with 105, followed by No. 1 LSU (88).
Toyin Olupona got on the board first for the Lady Vols, tallying three points for a sixth-place effort in the 55m dash. The sophomore from Orillia, Canada, ripped off a career-best time of 6.87 to improve her NCAA provisional qualifying status and rise from ninth to fifth on UT's all-time performers list in that event.
The distance medley relay combination of Brooke Novak, freshman Caitlin Ward, junior Erin Anderson and sophomore Elizabeth McCalley tacked on a seventh-place finish in a season-best 11:54.84.
The 4x400m relay tandem of sophomore Antoinette Gorham, Cook, sophomore Dee Dee Trotter and Olupona wrapped up the scoring with a sixth-place time of 3:43.76.
Men's tennis shut out by 'Dores
Vanderbilt junior Bobby Reynolds became the school's all-time singles wins leader as the No. 24 Commodores swept No. 26 Tennessee 7-0 at the Currey Tennis Center Sunday.
Vanderbilt (9-1, 2-1 SEC) had not beaten Tennessee (6-4, 0-2 SEC) since the 1997 season.
Tennessee will host its first conference match of the season Friday against No. 11 Alabama at UT's Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center.
Last day of SECs lifts track teams
Published: Tue Mar 04, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:54 p.m.