Hogue leads Vol vaulters in Reno
Tennessee’s track and field newcomers set the pace during Saturday competition at ETSU’s Niswonger Invitational and the Pole Vault Summit in Reno, Nev. True freshman Matthieu Pritchett led all Volunteers with a career-best runner-up finish in the 60-meter finals on the oversized track in the Memorial Center in Johnson City, TN.
“Both Zach Sabatino and Andy Baksa opened up solid in the mile against a good field,” head coach Bill Webb said. “I’m pleased with Jacob Dennis’ big improvement in the 400. Matthieu Pritchett did a nice job in the 60 finals. We did rest several of our top people. We’ll get some people back next week at Penn State, our first highly competitive meet with our whole team together.”
Pritchett’s lifetime-best 6.85-second time to earn silver in the 60 proved to be the most improbable of all the Tennessee finishes. The freshman from Enka-Candler, N.C., was so close to the winner that the race had to be broken into thousandths of seconds, rather than the customary hundredths. The photo finish revealed Pritchett finished 15/10,000ths of a second behind champion Chauncey Harris of Alabama.
Perhaps the most interesting part of equation is that Pritchett didn’t qualify for the finals after he placed 11th in Friday’s preliminaries with a 6.86 time. Several finalists scratched to give Pritchett an opportunity to bump up to the finals.
Though not a newcomer, sophomore Jacob Dennis updated his season best with a third-place, 48.39 in the 400 to strengthen his team lead in the event.
After a fruitful cross country season, track newcomers Zach Sabatino and Andy Baksa dropped down in distance to notch a solid opener in the mile. Sabatino finished third in 4:12.30. Baksa, a Farragut alum, took ninth in 4:16.51. Both Sabatino and Baksa will likely bump up to the 3,000 or 5,000 as the indoor season progresses.
Ell Ash, the newest member of Tennessee’s dual sport track/football tradition, finished sixth with a shot put mark of 49 feet, 11 inches in his first outing for the Vols. The last defensive lineman to throw shot for Tennessee was Darwin Walker, whose Philadelphia Eagles are awaiting the NFL’s NFC championship game Sunday. Walker earned All-America honors for Tennessee in 1998. Walker’s 61-2 lifetime-best mark in the shot put stands seventh on Tennessee’s all-time list in the event.