March 10, 2006
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -
Two Auburn women earned All-American honors during the opening day of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Friday in Fayetteville, Ark. Junior Kerron Stewart placed sixth in the 200m and senior Angela Homan was ninth in the 5,000m to achieve All-American status. The Auburn women's team scored three points and the men did not score during the opening day with seven events scored in each meet.
"We came in ready to roll but we had some ups and downs, which is expected because this is such a competitive meet," said head coach Ralph Spry. "Kerron ran hard but she didn't get the place she thought she'd get. We had a couple of people who just missed scoring. Angela Homan really ran a great race but unfortunately she finished ninth. It's been a tough day but we have to come back tomorrow. We've got some firepower tomorrow, and our women's team is still in this thing for a top-five finish. We just have to regroup and just try to get the ball rolling our way."
Stewart was one of the favorites in the 200m, but placed sixth with a time of 22.98 seconds. She had posted the third-fastest time in the prelims, cruising to a time of 23.02 while winning her heat. But in the finals, though her time improved, others showed even more improvement, including Shalonda Solomon of South Carolina, who won the event in :22.57, which was the fastest indoor time in the world this year.
"That wasn't my best but I'm not disappointed," said Stewart. "They (the top five finishers) just had the better day today. I'm just going to go back and work with my coach and work on the mistakes that I made."
Stewart did also advance to the finals of the 60m with a time of 7.22 seconds in her heat of the prelims, which ranks second in Auburn indoor history behind only 2005 NCAA indoor champion Fana Ashby. She had the seventh-fastest time in the prelims and will be in lane one for Saturday night's final.
"Every time I step on the track I try to do my best," added Stewart. "I didn't win today, but to me I'm a winner inside. Tomorrow I'll be somebody to be reckoned with."
Meanwhile, Homan finished ninth in the 5,000m, recording a time of 16:18.67 and just missing scoring for Auburn by less than four seconds. Any points scored by Homan would have been a bonus as she was ranked 15th among the 17 competitors in the event and not expected to score. As one of the top eight American-born finishers, Homan earned her sixth career All-American honor, having previously earned three in cross country and two in the outdoor 10,000m.
Senior Markita James ran had less than her best performance in the 400m prelims, but it was still good enough to advance her into Saturday's final with the seventh-best mark among the finalists. James entered the meet ranked third in the NCAA after posting a school-record time of 52.64 seconds four weeks ago on the same track at the Tyson Invitational, but finished in 53.22 seconds in the first of four heats, then waited through three agonizing heats to find she had squeezed into the final.
Senior Josanne Lucas competed in the preliminaries of the 60m hurdles, but her time of 8.20 did not advance her to the finals, as it ranked 11th of the 18 competitors. However, it was a personal best for Lucas, who had the 13th-best time coming into the meet. She was just .04 seconds behind the eighth and final qualifier for the finals.
Senior Ronda Gullatte finished 11th in the weight throw with a mark of 19.90m (65-3.5), which fell short of her school-record throw of 20.44m last weekend at the Cyclone National Qualifier. Gullatte entered the event ranked ninth in the Trackwire Dandy Dozen.
Senior Jovanee Jarrett had a disappointing finish in the long jump, placing 14th with a mark of 6.14m (20-1.75). It was the lowest mark of the season for Jarrett, the SEC Indoor Champion in the long jump who had jumped at least 6.31m at every other competition this season.
Sophomore Ty Akins was the lone member of the Auburn men's team to compete on Friday. Akins competed in the prelims of the 60m hurdles, but just missed qualifying for the finals by less than one one-hundredth of a second. Akins' time of 7.830 was 10th in the prelims, just a fraction behind eighth-place Jason Richardson of South Carolina (7.823) and ninth-place Linnie Yarbrough of Middle Tennessee State (7.828). Akins' time was a personal best and ranks him second on Auburn's all-time indoor list behind only Shamar Sands (7.59 - 2003).
Action at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships will continue Saturday. Competing for the Auburn women will be: Michelle Vaughn in the triple jump, Markita James in the 400m final, Kerron Stewart in the 60m final and the 4x400m relay team of James, Stewart, Tamara Thomas and Josanne Lucas. For the men, Cory Martin and Jacob Dunkleberger will compete in the weight throw.
A tape-delayed broadcast of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships will be shown on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 14 at 1:30 p.m. CT.