Team titles, National Championship meet on the line
More than 800 collegiate athletes will be in Knoxville this weekend attempting to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will take place June 7-10 in Sacramento, Calif.
Their opportunity to make the national meet will occur on Friday and Saturday, as the University of Tennessee plays host to the 2006 NCAA Mideast Regional meet at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.
On the women’s side, there will be 416 competitors, representing 77 colleges and universities, while the men’s list includes 407 entrants from 65 different institutions.
The host Lady Volunteers, directed by Head Coach J.J. Clark, will attempt to defend their 2005 Mideast team title, which they won in Bloomington, Ind. last year, while John McDonnell’s Arkansas men’s team will take aim at winning its fourth straight region crown.
Ranked squads among the field include No. 2 Auburn, No. 10 Michigan, No. 11 LSU, No. 15 Tennessee, No. 22 Alabama, No. 23 Illinois and No. 23 Southern Illinois in the Trackwire women’s poll and No. 3 LSU, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 11 Tennessee, and No. 25 squads Louisville and Jackson State in the men’s poll.
Action begins 11 a.m. Eastern Time Friday with the men’s hammer throw and women’s high jump. A second wave of field events gets under way at 3 p.m. on day one, while the 3:45 p.m. opening ceremonies signal the beginning of competition on the track. The final event Friday, the men’s 5,000-meter race, is slated for 9:40 p.m. ET.
Saturday’s agenda also kicks off at 11 a.m., with the women’s hammer and men’s high jump. Likewise, a second group of field events begins at 3 p.m., with the 4:45 p.m. opening ceremonies igniting the final day of races on the oval. Team champions will be crowned and all automatic national qualifiers will be determined after the conclusion of the men’s 4x400m relay, scheduled for 8:50 p.m.
Knoxville is one of four NCAA regional sites, with Greensboro, N.C. hosting the East, Provo, Utah hosting the West and Austin, Texas hosting the Midwest. Previous Mideast sites have included Columbus, Ohio (2003), Baton Rouge, La. (2004) and Bloomington, Ind. (2005).
Adult tickets are $20 for a two-day pass and $15 for a single-day pass. Student/senior tickets are $10 for a two-day pass and $7 for a single-day pass. To purchase tickets in advance, call 1-800-332-VOLS or 865-656-1200. The public may enter at the new entry gate on the southwest corner of the track off Volunteer Boulevard, or via the breezeway of the HPER Building off Andy Holt Avenue.
For more information, visit www.utladyvols.com and click on the NCAA Mideast Regional icon at the bottom of the page.