Girma Mecheso Earns All-American Honors At NCAA Track And Field Championships
June 11, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Freshman Girma Mecheso earned All-American honors and two other members of the Auburn track and field teams advanced to finals during the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships Thursday. Mecheso placed seventh in the finals of the 10,000 meters, while sophomore Cache Armbrister and freshman Marcus Rowland will go for national championships during Saturday's finals of the 200 meters.
Mecheso clocked a time of 29:12.99 to become the first man in Auburn history to earn All-American honors in the 10,000 meters. It was the second career All-American honor for Mecheso, who was first honored in the fall when he placed 16th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
"We had some young people step up today," said head coach Ralph Spry. "Marcus and Girma are both freshmen but they ran well today, and so did Cache Armbrister and she's just a sophomore. This is a big learning weekend for us with such a young team, and the good thing is when we come back next year we'll have some experience, which is really going to pay off with this group."
In the men's 200, Rowland made it through two rounds Thursday and grabbed the last spot in the finals, finishing fifth in his heat and ninth overall in the semifinals with a time of 20.69 seconds. Earlier in the evening, he clocked a time of 20.90 in the first round.
"I feel pretty good, but I'm just tired," said Rowland. "We only had an hour between races so I was just trying to stay focused and keep my legs feeling good. In the finals, if it's my day I can win, but I have to stay focused and do what I have to do."
Sophomore Michael DeHaven ran next to Rowland in the semifinals of the 200 meters, but was 12th overall with a time of 20.80. DeHaven, who was an indoor All-American in this event, reached the semifinals by posting a time of 20.91 in the opening round.
In the women's 200 meters, Armbrister was the eighth qualifier for the finals, matching her season best with a time of 23.22 seconds in the semifinals. She was tied for seventh best overall earlier in the first round with a time of 23.39. Armbrister, who was ranked eighth coming into the meet, will attempt to earn her first career All-American honor Saturday in the finals.
"I feel really good about my performance," said Armbrister. "In my first race I had a little bit of a rocky start, but I kind of nailed it in the semifinals so I'm pretty happy about that. My finish wasn't as strong as I wanted it to be, but I had to run two races in one day and I was just trying to get to the finals."
In the men's 1500 meters, junior Felix Kiboiywo just missed a spot in the finals, finishing 13th in the semifinals with a time of 3:42.18. He was just .09 seconds behind the time of the 12th and final qualifier for the finals. Still, Kiboiywo's time time was a personal best and ranks third in school history, and he finished six spot higher than his seed entering the meet.
Sophomore Zach Clayton was not able to reach the finals of the men's discus, finishing 16th with a mark of 55.00 meters (180-5). However, it was an improvement from last year's NCAA Championships in both place and distance for Clayton, who finished 19th a year ago and was seeded 21st entering this year's meet.
The women's 4x400-meter relay team entered the meet ranked No. 2 in the nation, but finished 12th in the semifinals with a time of 3:35.47. The team of sophomores Joanna Atkins and Latoya Parkinson, Armbrister and freshman CeCe Williams finished fourth in their heat while finishing well shy of their time of 3:31.79 from the Mideast Regional two weeks ago.
The men's 4x400-meter relay team ran without Rowland, who typically runs the anchor leg, due to his involvement in the 200-meter heats earlier in the evening, and finished 18th with a time of 3:10.62. The team of redshirt freshman Nick Green, DeHaven, sophomore Bernard Spivey and senior Jerod Wims was ranked 16th entering the meet.
"Every time we come to this meet we're reminded of how tough it is and how competitive it is," said Spry. "You have the best people in the country here. But we fought hard and I'm proud of what we've done up to this point. We still have four or five events where we can do some damage."
Mecheso's seventh-place finish gave Auburn two points in the team standings, though just four events have been completed through Thursday's competition.
Friday's action will include freshman Ryan Fleck in the finals of the men's high jump, junior Jean-Pierre Weerts in the finals of the men's 5,000 meters, Auburn's men in the finals of the 4x100-meter relay and Atkins in the semifinals of the women's 400 meters.
CBS College Sports will have live coverage of Friday's competition from 6-9 p.m. CT.
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