Track And Field Teams Excel At War Eagle Invitational
April 16, 2011
AUBURN - The Auburn men's and women's track and field teams won seven events, had the top collegiate mark in two others, broke one school record and had one NCAA-leading performance on Saturday during the War Eagle Invitational at Hutsell-Rosen Track.
The Tigers' performance was impressive considering the strong competition, with five nationally-ranked teams in both the men's and women's fields as well as other unattached world-class athletes. Auburn won five events in the women's competition and two in men's events.
"I'm really excited with our performance," said head coach Ralph Spry. "I knew this was going to be a big measuring stick for us with the teams that were here for us to compete against, and we stepped up in a lot of ways. We had a lot of great times and posted a numb er of national marks that I feel really good about. "
Auburn won both of the invitational 5,000-meter races that were postponed from Friday, setting one school record in the process. Senior Holly Knight was the record-breaker, winning the women's 5,000 meters with a time of 16:06.25. She broke the old school record of 16:11.02 set by Angela Homan in 2006. In the men's 5,000, junior Ben Cheruiyot clocked a personal best of 13:41.80 that ranks fourth in Auburn outdoor history.
Two freshmen excelled in the mens' shot put, with redshirt freshman Stephen Saenz finishing second overall and first among collegians, trailing only former Tiger Eric Werskey. Saenz' mark of 19.38 meters (63-7) leads the NCAA this year and is third in Auburn outdoor history. True freshman Marcus Popenfoose placed sixth overall and fourth among collegians with a throw of 17.64 meters (57-10.5) that ranks him ninth in school history.
The Auburn women's sprinters continued to excel, winning three events and posting three marks that rank in the top five of the NCAA this year. Junior Nivea Smith won the 200 meters with a time of 22.97 seconds that ranks fourth in the NCAA this year and met the `A' qualifying standard for the world championships. Her time is fifth best in Auburn outdoor history.
Senior Sheniqua Ferguson finished second in the 100 meters to South Carolina's Lakya Brookins, but the duo posted the two-fastest wind-legal times in the NCAA this year, with Brookins winning in 11.10 seconds and Ferguson clocking a 11.17 that also met the `A' world qualifying standard and ranks fourth in school history.
Senior Joanna Atkins was second overall but first among collegiate runners in the 400 meters, clocking a time of 52.61 seconds that ranks fourth in the NCAA this year.
Smith, Ferguson and Atkins were also three quarters of Auburn's 4x100-meter relay team that won in 43.91 seconds, with senior Latoya Parkinson running the lead leg. Parkinson also won the Olympic Development 100-meter hurdles in 13.86 seconds.
Atkins and Smith ran the first and last legs, respectively, on Auburn's winning 4x400-meter relay team, and were joined by senior Cache Armbrister and junior CeCe Williams. The quartet posted a season-best time of 3:36.02 that puts them in the top 15 in the NCAA this year.
Brock also placed third in the men's 200 meters with a personal-best time of 20.77 seconds that ranks tenth in Auburn outdoor history and puts him in the top 20 in the nation.
Auburn's other individual winner was sophomore Maya Pressley, who claimed the title in a wind-blown women's high jump competition with a jump of 1.77 meters (5-9.75).
"The biggest thing that came out of this meet is that we had schools here like Ole Miss, South Carolina, Florida State, Georgia, Penn State, Iowa - a lot of the top teams in the country - and we really stepped up and showed that we're where we need to be," said Spry. "I'm really pleased with how we did, so all we have to do now is keep everybody healthy and keep the ball rolling, and we'll be in good shape."
The Tigers will travel to Oxford, Miss., for the Mississippi Open next weekend.
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