RALEIGH, N.C. - Tennessee freshmen Paul Cross and Jeff Day won the 800m run and open steeplechase, respectively, to close the Volunteers' effort Saturday at N.C. State's adidas Raleigh Relays.
Tennessee added another five new regional qualifiers Saturday to triple the team's output entering the adidas Raleigh Relays. Tennessee currently boasts 15 regional qualifiers after a solid work weekend in Raleigh.
Although it remains early in the outdoor season, qualifying as many people for the Mideast Regional meet in May will be a dominant theme all season as it blazes the only path to the NCAA championships for all events except the 10,000m run and decathlon.
"We were extremely competitive again today," coach Bill Webb said.
Besides Cross, other new members of Tennessee's regional-qualifying club include Josh Whisman and Garland Porter in the hammer, the 4x100m relay team and Tim Kelly in the steeplechase.
While both previously notched regional qualifiers, Aries Merritt and Robert Boulware provided two elevated finishes in the high hurdles finals.
In the cage, hammer throwers Josh Whisman and Garland Porter carved out season bests and approached lifetime bests early in the season as both cracked the regional-qualifying standard. Whisman earned fourth with a 188-3 measurement. Porter's 184-8 throw ranked sixth.
Jim Sexton's lifetime-best 179-1 heave to earn ninth gave the Volunteers a third of the top nine in the hammer.
One of the keys of the weekend for the coaching staff was analyzing the performance of the Vols in their season-opening attempts in outdoor events. After losing two NCAA individual champions from the 2003 NCAA runner-up 4x100m relay, the Tennessee quartet opened with a respectable 39.92 time, a regional qualifier, to capture second place.
True freshman Blake Jones got the Vols out of the hole on the short relay. Returnees Jonathan Wade and Sean Lambert were assigned the second and third legs. Junior Toledo transfer Jak Taylor sealed the deal on the anchor leg. Lambert also ran the third leg last year. However, Wade was assigned the anchor leg in 2003 in a bit of a switch.
Wade enjoyed a busy day on the fast track. In addition to his relay duties, the sophomore took fifth place in both the 100m dash final (10.60) and 200m dash (21.54). Lambert also qualified for the 100m dash final, but concentrated on the 4x100m relay instead.
In the invitational steeplechase, Kelly's fifth-place, 9:07.95 slid under the regional standard in his season-opener in his specialty. Doug Brown also finished sufficiently high in the invitational steeplechase pack with a ninth-place, 9:22.62 opening effort.
Though he has thrown almost 18 feet farther this season, senior Leigh Smith still tied for sixth in the javelin. The two-time All-America and SEC champion from Raleigh flung the spear 207-0 in his homecoming meet.
Tennessee splits the squad next weekend for Georgia Tech's Yellow Jacket Invitational and the Texas Relays.