Leigh Smith UT's top athlete

This was a good year for the men's and women's track programs at Tennessee.

One day after sprinter Dee Dee Trotter was named Lady Vol Athlete of the Year, javelin specialist Leigh Smith was tabbed Tennessee's nominee for Southeastern Conference Male Athlete of the Year.

During his four-year college career Smith won the SEC javelin title three times and earned All-America honors three times.

As a senior in 2004, Smith shattered the school record and SEC meet record with a lifetime-best throw of 257-10. This record-setting launch of the javelin shattered two 14-year-old records. Smith's 257-10 mark bettered Florida's Tom Pukstys' previous SEC meet record of 255-4 set in 1990. Pukstys went on to set the American record in the javelin and a decorated professional career. Smith's effort also broke Tennessee's school record of 254-4 set by John Richardson in 1990.

Smith's 257-10 measurement -- best nationally among collegians at the time -- ranked as the NCAA's second-best throw by season's end. Moreover, Smith's mark is third-best among all American javelin throwers, including professionals, this year.

At the 2004 NCAA outdoor championships in Austin, Texas, Smith finished fifth with a 241-10 throw.

He hopes to win a spot on the the U.S. Olympic team during the upcoming Trials, thereby qualifying for a trip to the Games of Athens, Greece.

A forestry/wildlife major, Smith is also a good student who has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll two years in a row.

The SEC will announce the winners of the annual Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards June 24.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories