Pole vaulters lead Tennessee to SEC indoor meet

Running events dominate the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships. Tennessee’s highlights might come in the air.

Pole vaulting appears to be the highest-scoring opportunities for both the Vols and Lady Vols at the meet this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.

Newcomer Jake Blankenship has already joined the 18-foot club as a freshman.

Linda Hadfield has set the school record in the women’s vault as a junior.

Blankenship has lived up to expectations as a highly ranked prep vaulter, clearing 18 feet, 1 inch in his rookie season to rank third on UT’s all-time indoor chart.

The Blacklick, Ohio product ranks second among SEC vaulters coming into the meet.

Junior Chase Brannon (17-8.5) ranks fifth and he’s got big-meet experience, finishing third at the SEC indoor meet last year.

A good day could make Tyler Porter a third Tennessee scorer in the vault.

Hadfield is off to a terrific junior year. She has clearances to put herself at first, second and tied for third on the all-time school indoor chart.

She has cleared 13-5 twice, topping out at 13-5.75.

But that only puts Hadfield fourth in the SEC form chart, three spots ahead of teammate Erin Champion (12-11.75.)

Two SEC women have cleared 14 feet and a third has gone 13-10.

Elsewhere, the Lady Vols lost virtually all of their big-point producers from last year to graduation.

Hannah Davidson, a Providence transfer, anchors a revamped distance medley relay team.

UT’s men hope for big points in the shot put, where sophomore Matt Hoty returns after finishing third last year.

Sophomore Tavis Bailey, winner of UT’s 2012 Dave Murphey Award, could also score in his first SEC indoor shot put. He redshirted indoors last year.

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