Division I Men’s News & Notes
Tennessee's Locke getting up to speed as a freshman
Dentarius Locke had to wait for his chance to shine at Tennessee and for he and the Vols, it was worth every minute of it.
After being forced to sit out last season because of academic issues, Locke finally got on the track this season and was spectacular. He became the first UT running event athlete, since sprinter Justin Gatlin in 2001, to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors outdoors, and is just the fourth UT male rookie athlete to earn outdoor freshman honor since its inception in 2000.
There was so much expected from Locke his first year and with good reason. The Tampa native came out of high school having broken Florida prep record in the 100 (held by Florida’s Jeff Demps) and 200m (belonging to Olympic medalist Walter Dix) as a senior, then won both events at the Nike Outdoor Nationals.
Locke had an All-American indoor season, but was slowed some by injuries during the outdoor season. Nonetheless, he was among the nation’s best.
The Tampa native was a double winner in the sprints at the UT-UCLA Dual, tying Willie Gault's meet record in the 100m at 10.29. Locke is already ninth on UT's all-time performers list in the 200m and 12th in the 100m.
At the SEC championships, Locke finished second by 1/100th of a second in the 100-meter dash final with a wind-aided 10.12 – a personal record. He had a third-place finish in the 200m dash (20.59) and was the highest-finishing SEC freshman in the 100 and 200 meters.
Locke will look to keep the momentum going this weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Regionals in Bloomington, Ind. If he qualifies there, he will advance to the NCAA Championships to be held June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa. He heads into the regionals ranked No. 5 in both the 100 and 200.
Need to Know
• Alabama’s Kirani James is the SEC’s Men’s Runner of the Year. James, the SEC’s 400m champion (44.86), ran the second fastest time in the nation, the third fastest in the world, and broke his own school record in event. James was a member of the team’s second-place 4x400m relay and he also owns the seventh fastest 200m time in the nation.
• Florida’s Will Claye was selected the SEC’s Men’s Field Event Athletes of the Year. Claye won two individual conference titles – the long jump and triple jump. The feat was the first time the same athlete won both events since 2004. Claye is No. 1 in the nation in the men’s triple jump (17.24m/56-6.75) and is No. 2 nationally in the men’s long jump (8.29m/27-2.50). He’s also the top American and ranks No. 2 in the world in the men’s long jump.
• Northeastern has a freshman distance runner who is turning heads. Eric Jenkins has become the second Husky to represent the school in two events at the East Regionals in Bloomington, Ind. Jenkins, from Portsmouth, N.H., will compete in both the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter runs this weekend. He won four of seven races this season. In the 1,500-meter run, Jenkins won the New England Outdoor Championship and Duke Invitational. Jenkins was the first Husky to etch his name in NU’s top-five 5,000-meter times since Brad Schlapak finished in 14:04.60 in April 15, 1989.
• Clemson handed down suspensions this week to Joe Craig and Marlena Wesh for violation of team rules that will cause them to miss the East Regionals. Craig, a freshman on football scholarship, was a scorer for the Tigers at the ACC Indoor Championships in the 200-meter dash. Craig redshirted as a wide receiver in the fall. Wesh was the ACC indoor and outdoor champion in the 400-meter dash, as well as a member of the team's 4x400-meter relay.
• This weekend’s Div. I regionals are dominated by five conferences, who will send more than 100 athletes to their respective sites in Eugene, Ore., and Bloomington, Ind. The Pac-10 leads the way with 193 participants, just slightly ahead of the SEC (191). Following in order are the Big 12 (188), the Big Ten (171) and the ACC (140). Texas A&M was tops with the most individual performers (30), followed by Florida, LSU and Stanford each with 29.
• Alcorn State’s Lino Reyes is the lone participant from his school competing in the East Regionals. He qualified in the 110 hurdles during the Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and in the 400 hurdles after posting a qualifying time at the Alice Coachman Invitational earlier in the season.
• The jostling between Texas A&M and Florida continues for the top spot in team rankings. The Aggies regained the top spot from the Gators this week. Teams at No. 3 and No. 4 also swapped places with FSU edging up a spot and LSU dropping down a spot. Texas Tech at No. 5 remained there for a second consecutive week.