The University of Tennessee track and field team is looking to make a solid impression at this week’s upcoming SEC Championship meet, something they have been working on since early on in the year.
But not without some new faces added to the mix.
This time around, Tennessee will have a plethora of newcomers to an SEC championship, a grand total of 19 total individuals on Tennessee’s squad. 13 out of 21 men and six out of 18 women will have never participated in an SEC championship thus far.
The team, although very young, has had some major breakout performances so far this season, with numerous conference and national awards to their credit, not to mention the copious amount of personal records beaten.
Young or old, director of track and field and cross country Beth Alford-Sullivan knows the team has to be ready.
“Anything can happen when you put the best against the best, and we have to be in position to strike,” Alford-Sullivan said.
The Vols will be going up against some of the best this weekend as they make the short trip to Nashville to participate in the championship series. They will be facing off against 14 teams in total, including Texas A&M and Florida, both of which have top runners in the 300m and 400m runs.
“There’s no question about it – the SEC has the most competition and is one of the best track meets in the world,” Alford-Sullivan said.
Coming off some strong competition at the Tiger Paw Invitational earlier this month and a week off last weekend, the Vols seem as ready as they can be in order to take a run at some conference awards and strong showings.
Some events to keep an eye on this weekend include the 4x4 relay and men’s high jump. Darryl Sullivan specifically should be interesting to watch. Earlier this year, Sullivan set a personal best 2.15m in the high jump, nabbing himself a first-place finish in the event at the Commodore Invitational, beating out individuals from Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss – all of which will be in attendance this weekend.
“He (Sullivan) had a great competition their last time and he has strung together a great series of competitions this indoor season, and he is looking to come into it very competitive,” Alford-Sullivan said. “He’s got to get himself in the mix.”
Team captain Christian Coleman, who also participated in the 2016 Olympics, will be one to watch in the 200m race as he has already set national records and beat his own personal best. Earlier this year, Coleman set the world’s fastest time in the 200m of 2017 with a time of 2.49.
“He has done a great job of example by performance,” Alford-Sullivan said. “He is very, very proud to wear the orange and white, and he will go out there and expect from his teammates their very best and put himself in the position to do his very best for his teammates and for his university.”
The SEC Indoor Championships begin at 10 a.m. on Friday morning.