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NEW YORK – Competing in the 12th edition of the historic Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York City, the Vol track & field squad closed the nation’s biggest and best indoor meet by tying an elusive school record and posting five top-three finishes on Saturday at The Armory.


“We had our best competition as far as the opponents we were up against, and came out of the meet with several personal records and season-best performances,” said Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. Clark. “The men finished fourth overall in the meet. We weren’t really watching over the score, but it’s very significant due to how high-caliber this meet is. We’ll keep focused on the task at hand, which is to keep getting better meet by meet in order to get ready for the championship portion of the season.”


A day after redshirt freshman Austin Whitelaw broke a UT indoor rookie record in the men’s 5,000-meter at the New Balance Track Center, freshman pole vaulter Jacob Blankenship tied a legendary UT mark.


Blankenship, who has won the event in two meets entering the weekend, took first place in the 19-man championship field with a vault of 18-feet, 1/2-inches (5.50m) on his second attempt. That mark ties Olympic silver medalist and former Vol Lawrence Johnson, who reached the height his freshman season in 1993. With that vault, Blankenship currently ranks fourth in the nation, second in the Southeastern Conference and is tied for third in the Vols’ all-time indoor pole vault records.


“It’s the third time we’ve had a freshman record with Jake today, Austin yesterday and Cameron earlier in the season,” said Clark. We also go PRs from Kyle (Walter) and Stephen (Derlath) today and that’s how we’ll keep building. It’s a process and we’re taking the steps you have to take in order to be successful. We’ve got the ball rolling and we’re going to keep adding to it.”


Junior Chase Brannon took second place in the event after eclipsing a personal-record 17-8.5 (5.40m) on his first attempt. His mark also ranks in the top 10 in the nation this season. Brannon’s classmate Tyler Porter also notched a PR in the event, finishing sixth with a vault of 17-0.75, while sophomore Michael Maira placed third in the college section with a career-best vault of 16-4.75.


“The vaulters really had a solid performance between Jake, Chase and Michael, who had two PRs today,” Clark said. “Our throwers were solid this weekend as well and have been consistent throughout several weeks now.”


The Vols also starred on the oval on Saturday, as redshirt freshman Kyle Walter and sophomore Stephen Derlath put forth personal-best efforts to place first and second in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter, respectively. Walter kicked it in gear on the final lap of the 3K to win the event in 8 minutes, 25.05 seconds. Derlath placed second in the 5K, crossing the line in 14:38.16.


Vol sprinters Jarael Nelvis, Arnez Hardnick and Jamol James also won their 200-meter preliminary heats, with Nelvis posting the fifth-best time to advance to the finals. The junior and Memphis native also finished fifth in the finals of the event with a time of 21.42.


UT throwers Cameron Brown and Drew Thomas notched top-10 marks in 50-man weight throw field. Brown and Thomas finished sixth and ninth, respectively.


Senior Nijgia Snapp highlighted the Lady Vols afternoon with a fourth-place finish in a loaded 800m field. Snapp, an All-American in the event, navigated the banked track in 2:07.24. Her mark currently ranks 15th in the nation and third in the SEC. Fellow indoor All-American Kianna Ruff finished seventh in the championship 800m with a time of 2:08.24.


Junior Amber Zimmerman posted the best mile time of her career on Saturday and the top mark in the event for the Lady Vols the season, finishing sixth at the New Balance Track Center with a blazing time of 4:47.13. Zimmerman currently ranks eighth in the SEC in the event. New York native Alexis Panisse finished 18th in the mile with a time of 4:55.53.


“On the women’s side, it’s similar with a meet full of season-best marks. Amber had a great run for a person-best, Kelsey Kane also ran well in the mile – just off her personal-best. These are all stepping stones we have to take to get where we want to go.


“On Friday, Erin Champion had a couple PRs in the women’s pole vault and Jamol also tied his personal-best yesterday in the 60m so we’re definitely moving in the right direction,” said Clark. “We really just had good movement throughout the entire meet.”


The Big Orange track & field team is back in action next week when it splits up and travels to both Fayetteville, Ark., and Seattle, Wash. The squad will compete in the Tyson Invitational at the University of Arkansas and the Flotrack Husky Classic at the University of Washington.




Championship Pole Vault: 1. Jacob Blankenship, 18-0.5/5.50m!fr*; 2. Chase Brannon, 17-8.5/5.40m!; T-6. Tyler Porter, 17-0.75/5.20m!

College 3,000m: 1. Kyle Walter, 8:25.05!b

College 5,000m: 2. Stephen Derlath, 14:38.16!b

College Pole Vault: 3. Michael Maira, 16-4.75/5.00m!

Championship 200m Finals: 5. Jarael Nelvis, 21.42b

Championship Weight Throw: 6. Cameron Brown, 60-7.25/18.47m; 9. Drew Thomas, 58-10.25/17.94m; 28. Tavis Bailey, 52-2.5/15.91m; 37. Deon McAdoo, 49-1.5/14.47m

Championship 800: 8. Antonio Carter, 1:52.48!b

Championship 4x400m Relay: 14. Jarael Nelvis / Antonio Carter / Terrance Livingston / Terry Benson, 3:16.54b

College Mile: 25. Jeremy Dickie, 4:17.59b; 26. Chris Bodary, 4:17.76b

College 800m: 27. Terrance Livingston, 1:55.96!b

Championship 200m Prelims: adv. Jarael Nelvis, 21.50b/Ht. 7, 1st (5th); dna. Arnez Hardnick, 21.77b/Ht. 8, 1st (16th); dna. Jamol James, 21.97b/ Ht. 10, 1st (21st)



Championship 5,000m: 3. Austin Whitelaw, 14:18.11!frb

Championship Shot Put: 4. Matthew Hoty, 59-3.5/18.07m; 7. Tavis Bailey, 56-4.75/17.19m

Championship 60m Finals: 5. Jamol James, 6.72!/Ht. 1, 1st

Championship Distance Medley Relay: 7. Jordan Chaney / Jarael Nelvis / Terrance Livingston / Peter Okwera, 9:56.75b

Championship 60m Prelims: adv. Jamol James, 6.81 (12th); dna. Arnez Hardnick, 6.90 (25th)

Championship 60m Hurdles Prelims: dna. Terry Benson, 8.17 (30th)




Championship 800m: 4. Nijgia Snapp, 2:07.24b; 7. Kianna Ruff, 2:08.24

Championship Mile: 6. Amber Zimmerman, 4:47.13!b; 18. Alexis Panisse, 4:55.53b

Championship 4x400m Relay: 7. Kianna Ruff / Martinique Octave / Nijgia Snapp / Felicia Brown, 3:40.97b

College Mile: 8. Kelsey Kane, 4:54.59b

College Triple Jump: 9. Allison Outerbridge, 39-1/11.91m; 14. Kasha McDougald, 38-6/11.73m!

Championship 200m Finals: 12. Felicia Brown, 24.15b

Championship Weight Throw: 18. Jessie Harrison, 56-7.25/17.24m

Championship 200m Prelims: adv. Felicia Brown, 24.12!bp/Ht. 4, 1st (6th); dna. Martinique Octave, 24.88bp (31st); dna. Kia Jackson, 25.47bp (47th)



Championship Pole Vault: T-3. Linda Hadfield, 13-5.25/4.10m

College Pole Vault: 5. Erin Champion, 12-5.5/3.80m

Championship Shot Put: 5. Cassie Wertman, 51-10.5/15.81m!; 17. Aslynn Halvorson, 46-7.25/14.20m

Championship Distance Medley Relay: 8. Alexis Panisse / Martinique Octave / Brittney Jackson / Hannah Davidson, 11:24.74b

College Long Jump: 36. Kia Jackson, 17-3.25/5.26m

Championship 60m Prelims: dna. Kia Jackson, 7.58 (26th); dna. Martinique Octave, 7.66 (39th)

Championship 60m Hurdles Prelims: dna. Kasha McDougald, 8.83! (37th); dna. Bianca Blair, 8.88! (42nd)



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