Tennessee rang up 16 points in the 200-meter dash as Rubin Williams powered to the win and Aries Merritt took third Saturday night at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York’s Armory. Tennessee coach Bill Webb reported Merritt was named the meet’s most valuable performer after winning the 60 hurdles Friday night in a meet-record time at the Millrose Games and taking third in the 200 Saturday at the historic Armory, home to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
"Rubin and Aries really represented us well," Webb said. "They were certainly part of the big show here in New York. We experienced a highly competitive meet. It gives us a flavor of what to expect in the SEC meet. We have some events in which we need to improve, but we’ve got two weeks until our next meet to get tuned up."
In the 200 prelim, Williams ranked second after finishing in 21.16. Merritt clocked the third-fastest prelim time in 21.50 to also qualify for the final. In the final, Williams took top honors with a season-best, NCAA indoor provisional qualifying time of 20.93, besting a field of 103 competitors in the 200. The sophomore’s 20.93 time in the 200 ranks second in the NCAA this season entering the competitive weekend. Williams defeated runner-up Kelly Willie of LSU, who led off the U.S. 4x400 relay in the preliminaries of the 2004 Olympics. With Willie on the lead leg, Team USA ran the fastest prelim in either heat and went on to win the gold medal, though Willie did not compete in the final.
Merritt finished third in the 200 final after running a 21.54, buttressing his case for MVP honors at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
Zach Sabatino ran a career-best and NCAA provisional-qualifying 8:00.65 to finish fourth in the 3,000, knocking eight seconds off his lifetime-best effort. Just a week after notching a lifetime best and provisional qualifier in the 5,000, Sabatino vaulted to third on Tennessee’s all-time top-10 list in the 3,000 . Sabatino moved past former Vol greats Doug Tolson and Rickey Pittman and Olympians Anthony Famiglietti and Tony Cosey on UT’s 3,000 list. He now trails only Olympian Todd Williams (7:58.34) and Glenn Morgan (8:00.42).
In action from late Friday, Karns grad Yarrick Kincaid authored his indoor lifetime-best 800 time of 1:51.91 to finish second in a field of 65 runners in the college section. Kincaid didn’t trail Villanova’s Sean Tully’s winning time of 1:51.75 by much. Jeff Day finished 27th with a time of 1:56.38 in the 800.
Just a week after notching a strong provisional qualifier in the heptathlon, Chris Helwick upped his lifetime-best clearance in the pole vault to 16-6 3/4 to take third in Saturday’s competition. Jeff Trembley tied for sixth with a 15-7 pole vault clearance in his season opener. Freshman vaulter Brad Holtz no heighted.