Heptathlete Chris Helwick and 60-meter man Jonathan Wade took eighth-place finishes in their events to land Tennessee in a tie for 16th with 14 team points as the NCAA indoor championships closed Saturday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
Favorite Arkansas won the team title by scoring 56 points on its home track at the Randal Tyson Center. Fellow SEC rival Florida took runner-up honors with 46 points. Wisconsin finished third with 43 points. Auburn gave the SEC three of the top four teams with a fourth-place, 37-point finish. Indiana rounded out the top five with 30 points.
Tennessee logged significant progress between the 2004 and 2005 NCAA indoor championships. In 2004, Tennessee finished tied for 56th with two points. Only one Vol, then co-captain Sean Lambert, scored. This season Tennessee scored seven times as many points at the NCAA indoor championships to finish tied for 16th, a far cry from 56th. At the 2005 meet, five of six Volunteers scored and earned All-America honors, the highest total at the NCAA indoor championships since Tennessee won the title in 2002.
“We brought six guys and five of them not only earned All-America honors, but also scored,” UT coach Bill Webb said. “Also, five of our six guys are back for next season ... we’re a young team.”
Helwick finished eighth in the heptathlon with a score of 5,421. Despite competing banged up through the entire indoor season, Helwick still managed to improve on his ninth-place, 5,386-point heptathlon effort from last year’s NCAA indoor meet.
Wade also added a point with an eighth-place, 8.59 finish in the 60. Webb reported that Wade was “tender” before the race but competed to bump the Vols a notch up the point standings.
“(Wade) doesn’t have a serious (leg) injury, but it’s not something you want at the national championships,” Webb said. “He kind of limped through the final to score a point.”
Junior Garland Porter authored a record-breaking day Friday to get the Vols on the scoreboard early after becoming the first Tennessean to earn All-America honors in the weight throw.
Porter, a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., finished third after breaking his own school record three times on Friday/ Porter threw the 35-pound weight 72 feet, 5 3/4 inches to up his total to eight times he has broken or tied the Tennessee school weight throw record since he arrived on campus last year.
Porter’s third-place, school record throw lacked less than three inches from matching runner-up Cory Martin of Auburn. Virginia Tech’s Spyridon Jullien won the event with a mark of 76-0.
Merritt added four points to the Vol coffers after taking fifth in the 60 hurdles with a time of 7.77 in a SEC-dominated affair. Mississippi’s Antwon Hicks won the event with a time of 7.64, leading a SEC quartet to four of the top-five finishes.
In the 800 preliminaries, Paul Cross couldn’t continue his string of improvement and did not advance. Cross finished with a time of 1:51.65 to place 16th.