Auburn Men And Women Finish Fourth At SEC Track And Field Championships; Tigers Win Six More Titles
May 16, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Auburn men's and women's track and field teams both finished in fourth place as the 2010 SEC Outdoor Championships came to a rainy conclusion Sunday. The Tiger teams combined to win six more event titles on Sunday to bring their total for the meet to eight, tying for the most at an SEC Outdoor Championship meet in school history.
The women finished with 97 points, trailing only LSU (132), Florida (107.5) and Arkansas (98.5). The men scored 88 points, finishing behind Florida (124), LSU (100) and South Carolina (89). It marked just the fourth time the Auburn women have finished in the top four and was the third-most points they have ever scored at the SEC Outdoor Championships. The Auburn men recorded their best showing since a fourth-place finish in 2003 and the Tigers' 88 points were the most scored by the men's squad since scoring 100 in 2000.
Auburn's eight event titles are the most by the combined men's and women's teams since the men won eight by themselves in 1977, before the women even began competing in the SEC.
"When you look at the number of titles we won and how many points we scored, it tells you the kind of meet we had," said head coach Ralph Spry. "It also reminds you just how tough this league is to do that well and finish fourth. We had a couple of things that we didn't capitalize on and a couple of key injuries that hurt us. We thought we had a chance to compete for the team titles, but even though it didn't pan out, we still competed well and represented Auburn in great fashion."
Junior Sheniqua Ferguson was a three-time winner for the women on Sunday, winning both the 100 and 200 meters and helping the 4x100-meter relay team to victory. Her accomplishments earned her the Commissioner's Trophy as the meet's highest female point scorer, making her just the second Auburn woman to win that award at the SEC outdoor meet, joining Lacena Golding in 1998.
In the 100 meters, Ferguson clocked a season-best time of 11.19 seconds, which ranks fourth in school history and No. 5 in the NCAA this year. She joined Kerron Stewart as the only Auburn women to win the 100 meters at the SEC Championships.
"I feel really good," said Ferguson after the 100 meters. "I just wanted to go out there and give it my best. I knew it was really close coming down the stretch, but I knew I had great top-end speed so I just stuck with my form and I was able to come out with the win."
She followed that just over an hour later with a victory in the 200 meters, clocking a time of 23.09 seconds which was just .01 off her season best. She became the first woman to win both the 100 and 200 meters at the SEC Championships since Stewart did it in 2007.
"After the 100 I was kind of tired mentally with the rain and the delay," said Ferguson. "I just wanted to go out and make my teammates proud and make up some points, so I'm happy. Coming in I knew I had a better 200 this season than a 100, so winning the 100 was just a bonus for me."
Junior Nivea Smith also performed well in both short sprints, finishing third in the 200 meters in 23.41 seconds, and placing fifth in the 100 in 11.57 seconds.
The day started on a positive note for Auburn, as in the first race the No. 2 seed Tigers won the 4x100-meter relay in 43.38 seconds, tying their season best mark. The team of senior Shaquela Williams, junior Joanna Atkins, Ferguson and Smith gave Auburn its second straight title in that event at the SEC Championships.
Atkins was Auburn's other female winner on Sunday, claiming her first outdoor SEC title in the 400 meters, but it wasn't easy. Atkins was about to get set in the blocks when storms delayed the meet, and she was forced to wait an hour and 15 minutes before starting the race. She didn't let the delay bother her, coming from behind down the stretch to finish in 52.58 seconds and nip Arkansas' Shelise Williams by .02 seconds. Sophomore CeCe Williams also placed eighth in 55.97 seconds.
"Mentally I was ready," said Atkins. "I was just happy that I didn't give up without a fight. I was going to fight and I was going to run hard. I wasn't going to walk off this track without giving my best."
On the men's side, sophomore Ben Cheruiyot won his second SEC title of the meet, taking the title in the 5,000 meters Sunday after winning the 10,000 meters on Friday. Cheruiyot's time of 14:02.50 was 20 seconds off his season best due to a slow pace, but despite running 10,000 meters on Friday, he had plenty in the tank to blow past his nearest competitors with 200 meters left and pull away to win by more than four seconds. He became the first male to win the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the SEC meet since 2007.
"I'm so excited," said Cheruiyot. "After winning the 10,000 I knew I was ready for the 5,000. I feel good. I was not worried because I knew I was ready. I've been training for this."
Senior Felix Kiboiywo won his second career title in the men's 1500 meters, winning a slow-paced race in 3:51.07. The field had stayed tightly bunched heading into the last lap when the pace finally picked up, and Kiboiywo sat back and waited until 200 meters remained before charging to the front, pulling away down the front stretch for the victory. Kiboiywo, won also won the 1500 meters in 2008, became the fifth Auburn man to win multiple SEC titles in the 1500 meters/1600 yards.
"I tried to take it fast in the first lap but no one went with me," said Kiboiywo. "I wanted to be patient until 200 to go and then I made a move. I've been training well and coach (Mark Carroll) taught me some good techniques to make a move at the right time. Whether the race is slow or fast I can handle both cases."
Kiboiywo bounced back to also finish fourth in the 5,000 meters, clocking a time of 14:09.13.
Senior Amelia Anderson had a busy day, taking part in three finals. She finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles, and was seventh in both the 100-meter hurdles and the triple jump. In the 400-meter hurdles, she was the top finisher of three Auburn finalists, clocking a time of 58.63 seconds. Senior Danielle Gilchrist was seventh in 1:00.49 and junior Latoya Parkinson took eighth in 1:02.73.
Anderson started her day with the triple jump and soared 12.27 meters (40-3.25), but was a victim of bad luck as storms delayed the start of the event, causing her to have to leave with two jumps remaining to begin warming up for the 100-meter hurdles.
In the 100-meter hurdles, Anderson clocked a time of 13.88 seconds, but the bad news for Auburn in that race was an injury to junior Krystal Bodie, who shared the fastest time in the prelims but pulled up early in the race and did not finish.
The women finished the night with the 4x400-meter relay team placing third, as the team of junior Cache Armbrister, CeCe Williams, freshman Kai Selvon and Atkins clocked a time of 3:33.16 which is sixth best in school history.
Sophomore Marcus Rowland finished near the front in both men's short sprints, taking second in the 100 meters and fourth in the 200. In the 100 meters, which was run as another downpour began, Rowland managed a time of 10.17 seconds, finishing second to Florida's Jeff Demps who won in 10.06 seconds. In the 200 meters, Rowland finished in 20.92 seconds into a slight headwind.
The men's 4x100-meter relay team of junior Stephen Fly, redshirt freshman Harry Adams, junior Michael DeHaven and Rowland finished third with a season-best time of 39.31, which ranks tied for fourth best in school history.
Senior Eric Werksey, who placed third in the shot put on Saturday, finished fifth in the shot put on Sunday. Werskey had a top mark of 51.01 meters (167-4), which came on his second of six throws.
Sophomore Holly Knight and senior Laurel Pritchard, two nights after placing second and fourth, respectively in the women's 10,000 meters, just missed scoring more points for Auburn in the 5,000 meters. Pritchard finished 10th in 17:01.88, and Knight was 11th in 17:04.26.
"We're leaving here on a high note," said Spry. "We need to keep our momentum headed into the NCAA Preliminary meet and qualify as many people as we can for nationals. We have two teams that I believe can do very well at the national meet this year."
Auburn will be off next weekend before competing at the NCAA Preliminary Round May 27-29 in Greensboro, N.C.
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