June 7, 2006
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Auburn men's and women's track and field teams had a successful opening day at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, advancing several athletes into finals and semifinals of their respective events. Nine Tiger individuals or relay teams competed Wednesday, and all nine advanced at least one round. There were no finals contested during the opening day and therefore no team scores.
"The name of the game is to move on," said head coach Ralph Spry. "At this level it's so competitive that you can't get caught worrying about the next round. You have to worry about each round as it comes and handle your business. I'm really impressed. We had a great first day, but I'm not surprised, because the people that did it today have done it all year long. I'm real excited and hopefully we can keep it going."
The women's 4x100m relay team of Tamara Thomas, Jovanee Jarrett, Markita James and Kerron Stewart opened the competition for Auburn by finishing second in its heat but third fastest overall to easily qualify for Friday's final. The group posted a season-best time of 43.35 seconds, just missing the school record of :43.32 set in 2003. The previous best this season was a mark of :43.73 set during the Mideast Regional Championships. Auburn will have lane three in the final.
A pair of women who ran in the 4x100m relay later advanced to Friday's 200m semifinals. Stewart won her heat and was eighth overall with a time of :23.15, while Thomas placed fifth in her heat but 15th-best overall in the prelims with a personal-best time of :23.39, which moves her up to seventh on Auburn's all-time outdoor list.
In the women's long jump, Jovanee Jarrett advanced to Thursday's final by posting the third-best mark during the prelims. Jarrett jumped a personal-best 6.52m (21-4.75) on her second attempt to reach the automatic qualifying mark for the finals. Jarrett edged her previous best of 6.51m (21-4.25) that she set at this year's SEC Outdoor Championships.
Auburn had two men in the 110m hurdles, and both reached the semifinals before bowing out. Shamar Sands posted the 10th-best mark in the prelims of :13.88, but stumbled in the semifinals with a time of :14.12. Ty Akins moved into the semifinals with a mark of :14.02, which ranked 13th in the first round, but his time of :13.91 in the semifinals ranked 11th, missing a place in the finals by two spots.
Katalin Mate was the 12th and final qualifier for Friday's finals in the discus. Mate, who entered the event seeded 20th, had a mark of 49.64m (162-10) on her first throw, which proved to be just enough to advance to the finals.
Michelle Williamson was the final Auburn athlete to advance during Wednesday's competition, earning the right to compete in Friday's high jump finals. Williamson cleared 1.70m (5-7), 1.74m (5-8.5) and 1.77m (5-9.75) before missing at 1.80m (5-10.75), but still earned a spot as one of the 12 finalists.
The NCAA Championships run through Saturday, June 7. Thursday's action will include three finals in which Auburn will be competing: Jarrett in the long jump and Angela Homan and Andrew Heath in the women's and men's 10,000m. Other action will include Kerron Stewart in the 100m prelims, Markita James, Josanne Lucas and Reuben McCoy in the first round of the 400m hurdles and Ronda Gullatte in qualifying for the hammer throw.