June 11, 2008
DES MOINES, Iowa -
The Auburn track and field teams advanced eight of the 11 Tiger athletes that competed during the opening day of competition Wednesday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The day started with stormy weather, delaying many of the field events, but most of Auburn's athletes competed during windy but clear conditions.
"I'm really pleased," said head coach Ralph Spry. "We were hoping to get someone to the finals of the men's discus, but it didn't happen, but other than that everyone did what they needed to do. Our hurdlers handled their business, our distance runners did a superb job and our guys in the hammer throw had the top two throws. We're right where we need to be, and we need to just keep on doing what we need to do and we'll have a great shot to do some really good things."
Auburn's top-ranked senior hammer throwers did not disappoint, as No. 1-ranked Cory Martin and No. 2-ranked Jacob Dunkleberger both advanced by surpassing the automatic qualifying mark of 67.00 meters. Martin posted the field's top throw with a mark of 71.89m (235-10) on his first and only throw. Dunkleberger had the second-best mark with a throw of 68.17m (223-8), which came on his third attempt.
Junior Raevan Harris reached the finals of the women's high jump, missing just once while clearing three heights to finish the night as one of just 16 competitors left for the final. Harris cleared 1.70m (5-7) and 1.74m (5-8.5) on her first attempts, before clearing 1.77m (5-9.75) on her second try. She will attempt to earn her first All-American honor on Friday after reaching the finals for the first time in four NCAA Championship meets (indoor and outdoor).
Freshman Hollie Knight, seeded 14th in the women's 5,000m, surprised the field with a third-place finish in her semifinal heat, putting her in Friday night's final. In a race that featured a very slow pace most of the way, Knight finished in 17:24.28, which was almost exactly one minute slower than her season best of 16:24.92.
In the men's 5000m, sophomore Felix Kiboiywo also advanced to the final, although it was a little tougher for him. Kiboiywo, who was seeded 15th, finished eighth in his semifinal with a time of 14:16.58, but his heat was the faster of the two heats and his time was faster than anyone in the first heat. He will be one of 16 finalists competing Friday night.
Auburn advanced two women to the semifinals of the 400m hurdles, as sophomore Danielle Gilchrist and junior Amelia Anderson both finished second in their heats. Gilchrist had a time of 58.08 in the third heat, which tied for fifth best in the field, while Anderson finished in 58.36 in the first heat, which ranked 10th, to move on. The semifinals will take place Thursday.
In the men's 400m hurdles, senior Reuben McCoy won his heat and finished second overall in the first round with a time of 49.99 to move on to the semifinals. Only Jeshua Anderson of Washington State posted a better time, finishing in 49.90.
Auburn had a pair of entries in the men's discus prelims, but neither reached the finals by placing in the top 12. Senior Edis Elkasevic was closest, finishing 14th with a mark of 52.41m (171-11). Redshirt freshman Zach Clayton placed 19th with a mark of 50.88m (166-11).
In the prelims of the women's hammer throw, Valentina Srsa finished 25th with a mark of 55.66m (182-7). The sophomore was seeded 27th coming into the meet with a season-best mark of 60.02m (196-11).
The NCAA Championships continue through Saturday. Thursday will see Gilchrist, Anderson and McCoy competing in the 400m hurdles semifinals, Martin and Eric Werskey in the shot put prelims, Ty Akins in the 110m hurdles first round and Cache Armbrister in the 200m first round.