June 8, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa - The Auburn men's and women's track and field teams began competition at the NCAA Outdoor Championships Wednesday at the Jim Duncan Track in Des Moines, Iowa, where seven individuals were in action. The Tigers competed in three semifinal races and have one runner advancing to the finals.
"We competed pretty solidly today, but we had two athletes that barely missed the finals," head coach Ralph Spry said. "I was happy that they ran well, but it was frustrating not to make the finals. Tomorrow is an important day for us, and we just need to bounce back. We need to get some things going so we can score some points."
Senior Joanna Atkins, who won the outdoor women's 400 meters in 2009, will advance to the finals of that event after posting the fastest time in her heat of 51.69 seconds. Atkins finished third in the semifinals overall and will compete in the finals on Friday.
"The best part of today was Joanna Atkins running well in the 400 meters," Spry said. "She had one of the top qualifying times and she will come back for the finals and hopefully earn big points there."
Junior CeCe Williams also competed in the women's 400 meters and placed 13th recording a time of 53.22 seconds.
Freshman Keenan Brock clocked a time of 10.36 seconds in the men's 100 meters as he finished third in his heat and narrowly missed a spot in the finals placing eighth overall.
In the women's 100 meters, senior Sheniqua Ferguson also barely missed advancing to the finals when she placed ninth overall with a time of 11.40 seconds. Ferguson will compete in the 200 meters semifinal on Thursday.
Senior Holly Knight ran in the women's 10,000 meters and finished 18th with a time of 35:41.72.
Redshirt freshman Stephen Saenz and freshman Marcus Popenfoose opened the first day of competition for the Auburn by competing in the men's discus. Saenz finished 17th with a mark of 53.08m (174-1), while Popenfoose placed 20th and bettered his seed with a mark of 52.31m (171-7). Both field athletes will compete in the shot put on Friday.
Competition at the NCAA Outdoor Championships continues Thursday with three Auburn athletes and one relay team in action. Ferguson and junior Nivea Smith will run in the semifinals of the women's 200 meters and the women's 4x400-meter relay team will compete in the semifinals of that event, while sophomore Maya Pressley will compete in the women's high jump.