Gridder Greer wins NCAA title

Jabari Greer's decision to bypass spring football practice is looking a little better these days.

Greer won the 60-meter hurdles title over the weekend in the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Fayetteville, Ark. His winning time of 7.55 seconds broke the school record of 7.67 set for another former Vol football player, Willie Gault, 20 years earlier.

Tennessee, which placed fifth in the team standings, also got a title from Gary Kikaya, who won his second consecutive NCAA 400-meter dash title with a clocking of 45.71, fastest in the world this year.

Heavily-favored Arkansas won the meet on its home track with 52 points. Auburn's 28 points took runner-up honors. Third-place Nebraska (26 points) and fourth-place LSU (24 points) edged out the fifth-place Vols, who tied with Villanova and South Carolina.

''For us to finish fifth and score 23 points is certainly an accomplishment with really only three guys competing,'' UT head coach Bill Webb said. ''We needed a few more people. I'm really proud of how our guys competed and what weâve accomplished. It sounds like a broken record, but it's the same old SEC with five of the top seven teams out front. I'm looking forward to the outdoor season where we pick up Marc Sylvester in the 800m, our decathletes, Leigh Smith in the javelin and a few others.''

Kikaya's title was his second consecutive NCAA 400m dash title, as the Kinshasa, Congo native won the 2002 NCAA Outdoor 400m dash title at LSU. Since he arrived on The Hill, Kikaya has won two of three NCAA 400m dash titles and won All-America honors in each of the three 400m dash races in which he has participated. Kikaya becomes the first Volunteer to win the indoor 400m dash since Anthony Blair took the equivalent 440 Yd. dash title in 1980.

''For Gary to win the 400m dash indoors with the winter weâve had in Knoxville is tremendous,'' Webb said. ''We donât have a good enough facility to train for the 400m dash or any of the oval races indoors. He has to be that much sharper, tougher and better to win.''

UT's Rocky Danners placed sixth in the pole vault with a best of 17 feet, 7 3/4. The Vols' only other participant, Sean Lambert, was disqualified after a false start in the 60m dash.

Even with only four athletes competing, UT notched two national titles, three All-America citations and 23 points.

''It shows that the 'T' always stands for tradition,'' Kikaya said. ''We've set a legacy every year. We want to keep building here this year.''

Tennessee opens the outdoor season with split-squad meets this week at Texas A&M and Florida State.

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