Men Sixth, Women Tied For Eighth After Three Days Of SEC Outdoor Track And Field Championships
May 16, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Auburn track and field teams wrapped up the third of four days of competition at the SEC Outdoor Championships Saturday, finishing the day with the men in sixth place and the women tied for eighth in the team standings. However, just nine of 21 men's events and six of 21 on the women's side have been completed.
Freshman Ryan Fleck finished second in the men's high jump, clearing 2.14 meters (7-0.25). He was perfect up to that height, but facing elimination after two missed, cleared his final bar on his third attempt at that height. After Arkansas' Alain Bailey cleared 2.17 meters (7-1.5) and Fleck missed, Fleck passed to 2.20 meters (7-2.5). He nearly was successful on his final jump, but clipped the bar with his heels on the way down.
"It went to the wire and I did about as well as I could, but ended up just a little short," said Fleck. "I was pretty happy overall. It hurts to be that close to gold and miss it, but I'm pretty happy with how I'm jumping."
The 3,000-meter steeplechases were the only track events to have finals on Saturday, and Auburn had scorers in both men's and women's races.
Junior Scott Novack had a surprise third-place finish in the men's competition after entering the race ranked ninth. He smashed his personal best with a time of 8:53.45 that ranks ninth best in school history, marking the first time in his career he has gone under nine minutes in that event.
In the women's steeplechase, sophomore Amber Riley finished fifth with a time of 10:53.30, just hours after qualifying for Sunday's finals in the 1500 meters.
Most of Saturday's action on the track consisted of preliminary action, and two young Auburn sprinters excelled in the 100 meters. In the men's prelims, freshman Marcus Rowland won his heat with a time of 10.21 seconds that ranks fifth in Auburn history. He tied for third in the prelims, finishing behind only LSU's Trindon Holliday, who had a time of 10.11, and Florida's Terrell Wilks (10.18). His time also ranks seventh best in the NCAA this year.
In the women's prelims, sophomore Joanna Atkins tied for the best mark in the field, improving her personal best to 11.34 seconds, which ranks eighth in school history and tied for 13th in the NCAA this year. Junior Shaquela Williams was 12th with a time of 11.68.
In the men's 1500 meters, Auburn advanced two runners to Sunday's finals. Junior Felix Kiboiywo won the first heat with a time of 3:51.46, and freshman Julian Matthews placed fourth in the second heat, which had a quicker pace, with a time of 3:47.36. Freshman Jeff Sanders missed qualifying by just one spot and 0.15 seconds, finishing 13th in the prelims in 3:52.76.
Auburn also had two women reach the finals of the 1500 meters. Junior Sabrina Fischer and Riley finished with nearly identical times in the opening heat, as Fischer was third in 4:28.83, and Riley was fourth in 4:28.84. It marked a personal best for Fischer, whose time ranks 10th best in school history.
Freshman CeCe Williams had the fourth-best mark in the prelims of the women's 400 meters, racing to a time of 53.93 seconds that earned her a regional qualifying time. In the men's 400 meters, sophomore Bernard Spivey did not reach the finals, placing 14th, but did have a personal best of 47.46 seconds.
Junior Danielle Gilchrist reached the finals of the women's 100-meter hurdles one day after advancing in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing eighth in the prelims with a time of 14.09.
"We had another solid day," said head coach Ralph Spry. "The important thing was, most of our key athletes like Marcus Rowland, Joanna Atkins and Danielle Gilchrist stepped up and did what they had to do today to get to the finals. We also had some unexpected people step up, like Scott Novack coming through in the steeplechase. We're still in position be a factor this weekend, and tomorrow we have a lot of people competing in the finals, and as long as you're in the finals you have a chance to win."
Junior Eric Werskey had a rough day in the shot put, fouling on his final two attempts of the prelims and just missing a spot in the finals. He finished 10th with a throw of 16.68 meters (54-8.75).
Sophomore Stephen Fly tied for 16th in the 100 meters, but earned an NCAA regional qualifying mark for the first time with a mark of 11.54 seconds.
Arkansas leads the men's race with 53 points, followed by Georgia (52), LSU (46.5), Florida (41), Tennessee (35), Auburn (32), South Carolina (31), Alabama (18.5), Kentucky (18), Mississippi State (15.5) and Ole Miss (8.5).
In the women's race, Florida is in first with 46 points, followed by Arkansas (45), Kentucky (39), Mississippi State (22), Alabama (22), LSU (14), Tennessee (11), Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina (9) and Ole Miss (8).
The final day of the SEC Championships, and the majority of the finals, will take place on Sunday. Twenty-seven of the 42 men's and women's finals will be contested on Sunday.
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