June 9, 2007
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -
Senior Kerron Stewart capped an undefeated season with a national title in the 200m and the men's team finished in third place as the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships concluded Saturday at Hornet Stadium. The Tiger men finished with 34 points, trailing only Florida State (54 points) and LSU (48). The women collected 22 points to finish tied for 12th.
It marked the sixth time in the last nine seasons that the men's team has earned a top-ten finish at the NCAA outdoor meet and the fourth time in that span the Tigers have earned a team trophy as one of the nation's top four squads. The third-place finish is tied for second-best in men's team history, matching the finish at the 2000 outdoor meet and trailing only a second-place finish in 2003.
In addition, Stewart's title in the 200m gave Auburn three individual national champions, equaling the school record for most national champions at one NCAA meet set at the 2003 outdoor meet and equaled at the 2005 and 2007 indoor championships. Auburn has now had 30 individual national champions in the history of the NCAA outdoor meet (22 men, eight women) and has had at least one champion in each of the last nine years.
Auburn brought just nine athletes who competed at the NCAA Championships (five men, four women), but seven of the nine left with top-three finishes and All-American honors.
"Overall I'm really pleased with how we lined up and competed this weekend," said head coach Ralph Spry. "I knew coming in that we didn't have a lot of depth but we had a lot of quality and a lot of mature athletes that have been here before. For our men to finish third with two national champions is incredible, and almost everybody we brought was All-American."
Stewart just missed breaking her own school record while winning the 200m. She raced to a time of 22.42 seconds, just .01 off her record time set at the Mideast Regional. She pulled away down the stretch, easily outdistancing runner-up Simone Facey of Texas A&M, who finished in 22.64 seconds. The margin of .22 seconds was actually the closest of the season in a 200m race for Stewart this season, as she finished the outdoor season winning every heat and every final in which she competed in the 100m and 200m.
It marked Stewart's first outdoor national championship to go with her indoor titles in the 60m and 200m. She is the first Auburn female to win an outdoor national championship in the 200m and finished her two-year Auburn career with nine All-American honors, equaling the women's school record held by Elva Goulbourne.
"I'm happy with the win and the time," said Stewart. "When I got in the straightaway I said `It's do or die. I'm either going to take this race or I'm going to get beat', and I just made up my mind to win the race. I just thank God that I was able to finish the race in good health, and I can't ask for more. I've done my best for Auburn, and now I just have to take that experience and move forward."
Senior Michelle Vaughn duplicated her placing at the NCAA indoor championships by finishing third in the triple jump. Vaughn, who entered the meet ranked tied for fourth, was in sixth place going into her sixth and final attempt. She made her last collegiate jump count, leaping a personal-best 13.60m (44-7.5) to move up to third and earn her third career All-American honor.
"I'm overwhelmed by how I performed," said Vaughn. "I had a personal best and I'm satisfied and grateful. Before the last jump I was thinking about how it was my last collegiate meet and if I really wanted it, I was going to have to put it all together on the last jump. In my earlier jumps I was too intense, and on my last jump I just relaxed and let everything fall into place."
Auburn's third and final competitor of the day was junior Cory Martin, who earned his second All-American honor of the meet with a seventh-place finish in the shot put. Martin, who placed third in the hammer throw Friday, collected his sixth career All-American honor by posting a mark of 19.08m (62-7.25).
"This is a great foundation for our men's team and our women's team because we bring most of our people back next year," said Spry. We might have had a shot this year but we were just short on numbers, but I'm really excited about the whole week and getting a third-place finish."
Auburn's 2007 All-Americans
Ty Akins (1st, 110m Hurdles)
Jacob Dunkleberger (1st, Hammer Throw)
Kerron Stewart (1st, 200m)
Cory Martin (3rd, Hammer Throw; 7th, Shot Put)
Tracy Ann Rowe (3rd, 100m)
Donald Thomas (3rd, High Jump)
Michelle Vaughn (3rd, Triple Jump)