A UT Pole Vaulter launches over the bar. (The Herald/ Submitted Photo)

A UT Pole Vaulter launches over the bar. (The Herald/ Submitted Photo)

Highlighted by a runner-up finish from freshman pole vaulter Jake Blankenship, the University of Tennessee track & field team concluded the 2013 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center Fayetteville, Ark. Feb. 24.

“This was a championship that we had some underclassmen come through,” said Tennessee Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. CLARK. “We had Cassie (Wertman), Cameron (Brown) and Jake all scoring as freshmen. Austin Whitelaw was ninth, just outside of scoring.”

Blankenship, who entered the meet ranked second in the conference and seventh in the nation in the event, posted the highest finish of the meet for the Big Orange. Seeking the Vols’ 19th SEC indoor pole vault title and the sixth in the past eight seasons, the rookie went head-to-head against the defending indoor and outdoor SEC champion, Andrew Irwin of Arkansas.

The Blacklick, Ohio, native breezed through the first four heights, surpassing each of them on his first attempt. After passing 18-0.5 on his second attempt, Blankenship proceeded to improve his own UT freshman record with a vault of 18-2.5 (5.55m) on his first attempt.

After missing it his first try, Irwin passed on the mark and went on to hit 18-4.5 on his second effort.

The Vols 6-foot freshman, which entered the championships having won three meets in a row, took three shots at the height, but knocked the bar down each time to finish as the runner-up.

The effort improves the UT freshman record to 18-2.5, a mark which legendary pole vaulter Lawrence Johnson held entering this season.

Blankenship now ranks third all-time in UT indoor pole vault history. In addition, he now sits fifth in the nation and second among rookies in 2013.

 

Arkansas doubled-up at the meet, claiming both the men’s and the women’s team titles with 152.50 and 114.50 points, respectively. It was the sixth-straight indoor championship for the Arkansas men. With 109.50 points, LSU took second on the women’s side, while the Tigers’ men’s squad finished fifth (44 points).

Newcomers Texas A&M recorded third-place finishes on both the men’s (88.50) and women’s (88) side. Florida placed second in the men’s competition (117) and fourth in the women’s (87.50), while Georgia rounded out the top five of the women’s competition with 52.50 points. The Bulldogs also finished fourth on the men’s side (56).

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