Vols Cross Country preparing for big challenge at SEC Championships

Zach Long during the Tennessee Rust Buster at Tom Black Track on March 25, 2017.

As Saturday drew to a close, the Tennessee track team headed home from Virginia where they competed in the Hokie Invitational at Virginia Tech. Day one of the invitational consisted of 17 NCAA Indoor personal records for the Tennessee runners. The Vols were also able to obtain 12 new personal records on day two.

The triple jumpers made their presence known on day one. LaChyna Roe, Alonie Sutton and Jalen Tate totaled 15 podium finishes. Roe finished the triple jump with a 13.28m, earning her a first-place title. Sutton wasn’t far behind, and finished her triple jump with a 13.15m, breaking her own all-time Tennessee freshman record. Tate led the men’s triple jump with a 16.08m, his new personal record.

Tennessee had five sprinters finish in the top-five on day one. Mustaqeem Williams finished with a personal best time of 6.61 in the men’s 60m. Alexia Duncan took silver in the women’s 60m with a time of 8.19, also breaking her own personal record. Maia McCoy finished the women’s 60m with a 7.44, earning a second-place spot. Lenysse Dyer also finished in second-place for the women’s 300m with a time of 38.59. The last runner to land a top-five spot was freshman Nickson Pierre, who placed third overall with a time of 34.40 in the men’s 300m.

Tennessee vaulters placed second on day one with sophomores Kim Spritzky and Jack Rhea earning season-best times. Spritzky was able to clear 3.85m and Rhea cleared a personal best of 4.60m.

Day one was kind to Tennessee distant runners. Megan Murray improved upon her own personal best in the women’s 3k with a time of 9:51.32. Karl Thiessen earned a bronze medal after leading eight other Vols in the men’s 3k with a time of 8:27.10. Zach Long earned an all-time best in the mile with a time of 4:05.98, resulting in a fourth-place finish.

Tennessee throwers were able to come out with season-best marks on day one, with Seth Whitener earning a third-place finish with 20.06m and Georgios Korakidis placing fifth with 20.37m. Stamalia Scarvelis earned the bronze medal after another victory in the weight throw of 21.70m with a toss of 18.81m.

“The Vols had a tremendous weekend of two-day competition,” head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan said. “Breaking into what the championship portion of the season is like – two days, back-to-back, we had an outstanding weekend, somewhere in the vicinity of over 20 personal-bests.”

Tennessee junior Darryl Sullivan was the talk of the town on day two of the invitational after clearing a lifetime-best in the men’s high jump with a mark of 2.26m. This victory for Sullivan has led to a current ranking of No. 3 in the indoor high jump across the NCAA, falling just short of the top mark in the country. Sullivan is now ranked No.2 in UT’s indoor history, only trailing Randy Jenkins (2.31m).

Tennessee thrower Joseph Maxwell also impressed during Saturday’s match with his third straight victory in the men’s shot put with an all-time best of 18.88m.

The Vols’ men’s pole vaulters, consisting of Tristan Slater, Nate Harper and Andrew Ference all earned personal records on day two. Slater is currently ranked second in the SEC with his 5.25m clearance. Harper cleared a 5.00m and Ference cleared a 5.15m. For the women, Hannah Jefcoat competed in the seeded pole vault and finished with a 4.04m, earning third-place overall.

Tennessee men’s and women’s long jumpers showed up and showed out in day two. Alonie Sutton landed herself a No. 8 spot on Tennessee’s top 10 list for indoors with a leap of 6.13m. Cameron Murray leaped a career-best of 7.30m, placing fourth overall.

Day two was just as good to the Vols’ sprinters as day one. Lenysse Dyer earned a season-best of 54.83 in the women’s 400m. For the men’s 400m, Nickson Pierre earned bronze for a time of 48.32. Maia McCoy finished the women’s 200m with a time of 24.11.

“From start to finish, very proud of our team, very proud of our program,” Alford-Sullivan said. “We have a lot of things to get better at. We've got a weekend full off, and we’re going to work in training and rehab. We're going to bed ready for the month of February when championship time starts.”

Tennessee will return for the Carolina Invitational on Feb. 1-2 in Columbia, South Carolina.

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