March 14, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -
The Auburn men's and women's track and field teams had a tough opening day of competition Friday at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The Tigers had five athletes competing Friday, with one reaching a final, but have yet to score.
Ty Akins provided the highlight of the day by reaching the finals of the men's 60m hurdles, but the NCAA's No. 2-ranked hurdler was disqualified in the finals for a false start. Akins' false start was the second of the finals, as his quick start on the first attempt was called back by a false start by LSU's Ryan Fontenot.
"It (the first false start) really didn't throw me off," said Akins. "I reset myself, but the second time, when we were in the set position, I thought the person next to me moved or made a noise and it triggered me to jump out. This is hurting me bad because I was in a position to win and I knew I was going to have a good race, but unfortunately it didn't work out that way."
Akins advanced to the finals for the first time of his indoor career by clocking a personal-best time of 7.66 in the semifinals, which ranked third-best in the prelims. The time improved his previous career best of 7.68 and keeps him ranked No. 2 in school history.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Akins' race in the prelims was the lone bright spot, as none of Auburn's other four competitors scored or reached the finals.
Sophomore Eric Werskey finished 11th in the men's shot put, posting a top throw of 17.79m (58-4.5). Werskey, who entered the competition ranked 14th, improved on each of his three throws, starting at 17.42m (57-2) and improving to 17.65m (57-11) on his second attempt before recording his top mark on his last throw.
In the women's 400m prelims, freshman Joanna Atkins placed 12th with a time of 53.85. It was a disappointing finish for Atkins, who entered the competition ranked eighth and had posted four straight times of 53.38 or lower on the Tyson Center track this season, which would have been more than enough to advance her to the finals.
Senior Reuben McCoy
finished 15th in the prelims of the men's 400m in 47.86 seconds. McCoy, who ran a career-best time of 46.61 last weekend to qualify for the NCAA Championships, held the lead in his heat into the final 50 meters, but ran out of steam.
In the women's high jump, junior Raevan Harris finished tied for 18th with a top jump of 1.75m (5-8.75). Harris cleared 1.70m (5-7) on her first attempt before needing three jumps to make it over the bar at 1.75m. She missed all three attempts at 1.80m (5-10.75) to bow out of the competition.
"We had a couple of bad breaks today," said head coach Ralph Spry. "Obviously Ty's false start was tough to take, and Reuben ran a tough race but not a very good tactical race. I just really wanted to get through the indoor season and get out of here with All-Americans, but that's not been the situation yet. Those things happen, and you have to take the good with the bad, but that won't change our focus for the outdoor season. We could have a great team for the outdoor season that could compete for a national championship. Hopefully we can learn from today as a program and move forward."
Competition at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships will conclude on Saturday. Jacob Dunkleberger will be Auburn's lone competitor on Saturday, participating in the men's weight throw.