May 13, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. – Sophomores Keenan Brock and Stephen Saenz both took home SEC individual titles on Sunday and Brock won the Commissioner’s Trophy as the top individual point scorer on the final day of action in the 2012 SEC Outdoor Championships hosted by LSU. The Auburn men finished the meet in seventh place, while the women were sixth.
“This is a great accomplishment for Keenan,” Auburn head coach Ralph Spry said. “I’m really proud of both of these guys. Both are really talented young men that have worked really hard and excelled early in their collegiate careers. They are far from being finished this season and I expect both continue with strong performances in the next month at NCAAs.
“This is especially great for Keenan to come out and perform the way he did today. Winning the 100 meters in the SEC is no easy feat, especially when you are running three races in one day. Then, Stephen did what we know he is capable of doing with winning his second-straight shot put title, in addition to placing in the discus and hammer.”
Brock and Saenz finished 1-2 in the individual scoring race with 17.5 and 17 points, respectively. Brock is 13th Auburn man to win the Commissioner's Trophy and the first to win since Cory Martin in 2008. Brock was first in the 100m, third in the 200m and third in the 4x100m relay, while Saenz was first in the shot put, fifth in the discus and sixth in the hammer.
Brock earned his first-ever SEC championship with a big win in the men’s 100 meters. The Birmingham native finished narrowly ahead of LSU’s Aaron Ernest (10.23) with his mark of 10.17 seconds. Brock came from behind and moved past Ernest in the final 30 meters of the race.
“My closing has always been the best part of my race,” Brock said. “In the past few months we’ve just been working on my drive phase and the acceleration zone. I needed all of it today.”
The title is the first for Auburn in the event since Olympian Coby Miller won in 1999 and it is the 14th all-time in the 100 meters for the Tigers.
Saenz made it two-straight men’s shot put titles with a win on Sunday. The sophomore recorded a long throw of 64-2.5 (19.57m) to take the championship and tie his season high. Teammate Marcus Popenfoose was fifth and established a new personal best with his mark of 59-7.5 (18.17m), a distance that ranks seventh in Auburn history.
“I was in second place going into the finals,” Saenz said. “I was messing up in the first round, but I got to the finals and got my bearings again. I hit my positions and I felt pretty good. I hit it pretty good and wen 19.57. That tied my outdoor PR for the season, so I was pretty excited.”
Saenz’s title is the seventh for Auburn in the shot put since 2003. He joins Cory Martin (2007-08) and Edis Elkasevic (2004-05) as Tigers to go back-to-back in that stretch. The first and fifth-place finishes gave Auburn 14 big points.
“90 percent of what Auburn has been able to do is Coach [Jerry] Clayton,” Saenz said. “His workouts are geared toward us peaking at this time of the year. He’s a master with our workouts of when we will peak. He’s great at that and great at motivating us. It’s not just me. [Fifth-place Teammate] Marcus [Popenfoose] PRed too. He knows what he is doing in the weight room and with training. It gets you ready for these big meets.”
The victories give the Auburn men an SEC champion in 13 of the last 14 seasons. The women had a streak of 11 consecutive seasons snapped this year.
With two races already in the books, Brock came back an hour after his 100 meter victory and placed third in the 200m in a time of 20.50 seconds. Mississippi’s Isiah Young was first in 20.32, followed by second-place Aaron Ernest of LSU in 20.39. Brock’s third-place finish earned Auburn six more team points.
The Auburn women posted a season-high time in the 4x100m relay en route to a second-place finish in 43.67 seconds. The mark was the sixth-fastest time in Auburn history for the group of V’alonee Robinson, CeCe Williams, Kai Selvon and Nivea Smith.
With Marcus Rowland already being held out as a precaution, Spry also sat Harry Adams on Sunday in the men’s 4x100m relay. Without two key legs, the Tigers placed third in the event with a mark of 39.88 seconds in Brock’s first race action on Sunday. Arkansas took the tape in 39.23.
In the women’s 400 meters, Williams finished in seventh place with a mark of 53.08 to pick up two points for the Auburn women. Selvon added three points with a sixth-place finish in the 200 meters in 23.76 seconds. Smith pulled up with an injury with about 60 meters to go and did not finish.
The Auburn men also picked up two points from sophomore DJ Smith in the men’s high jump. The Georgia native finished in seventh place with clearance at 7-0.5 (2.15m). Alissa Fisher added four points on the women’s side with a fifth-place performance in the 5000 meters. Running the event for the first time as a collegiate, the Huntsville, Ala. native completed the race in 16:47.16.
Kane Grimster finished seventh in the men’s 1500m in 3:54.17 to score one point. Senior Krystal Bodie was sixth in the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 13.54 to pick up three points. Freshman Samantha Scarlett finished in ninth place (13.72, a new PR) in her first SEC meet.
Both Tyler Kennedy and Michael Dekich posted season high throws on Sunday in the javelin, but missed out on scoring. Kennedy finished in 10th place with a long throw of 203-6 (62.02m), just 1’1” out of the points. Dekich was 14th with a mark of 194-7.
Auburn closed out the meet by adding a point thanks to an eighth-place finish in the men’s 4x400 meter relay. The team of Hardy, Michael DeHaven, Neil Danville and Spencer Ferguson crossed the finish line in 3:13.52 after fighting through a dropped baton to capture the final point spot.
“We had a lot of good things happen this week that we can build off of for next year,” Spry said. “We have two really young teams. A lot of kids got experience this weekend and we are going to use that to get better for next season. We are going to bring back two very tough squads. We’ve just got to keep grinding away and get better.
“We are peaking, so we just want to keep everyone sharp. We’ve got to get guys doctored up and get them feeling good. Resting people is going to be important. We have to be ready to go in two weeks and with the fire power we’ve got, I feel good about it.”
Auburn is in action next from May 26-28 at the NCAA First Round meet in Jacksonville, Fla. For the latest on Auburn track and field, follow @AUTrack on Twitter.