Three Tigers Earn All-American Honors Friday At NCAA Outdoor Track And Field Championships
June 11, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. - Joanna Atkins finished third in the women's 400 meters and two other Tigers also earned All-American honors Friday during the third day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Tiger women finished Friday's competition with nine points to rank tied for 21st with just 12 of 21 events completed, and have two 200-meter runners and two relays competing in finals on Saturday. The men have three team points and have two 5,000-meter runners, a shot putter and a relay still yet to compete.
Atkins, the defending outdoor champion in the 400 meters, looked like she had a strong chance of defending her crown through the first half of the race, as she held the lead entering the final turn. But in fact she went out too hard and faded running into the wind down the stretch, finishing with a time of 52.01 seconds.
"I felt good in warm-ups," said Atkins. "I did pretty well coming out of the blocks, but I talked to my coach and he said I ran the first 200 too hard and then the headwind pretty much killed me. But I gave it a good fight, I worked hard, I kept pushing and even though I'm not happy with my time but it was the best I could give today."
In the women's 100 meters, junior Sheniqua Ferguson finished in sixth place with a time of 11.32 seconds. Running out of lane seven, Ferguson fell slightly behind the leaders early and was unable to make up any ground, but still managed to become the fifth different Auburn woman to earn All-American honors in the 100 meters since 2003.
"I didn't get out very well," said Ferguson. "Probably because I was in an outside lane and I couldn't feel the competition. But overall I'm happy that I finished the race without any injuries, and now I'm going to get my mind right for the 200 and the (4x100-meter) relay tomorrow."
Ferguson, the NCAA indoor champion in the 200 meters this year, will compete in that event tomorrow as well as in the 4x100-meter relay.
The men's team had just one competitor on Friday, and suffered misfortune, as sophomore Marcus Rowland strained a muscle in his left leg while running in the finals of the 100 meters. Rowland, who had the fastest time in the NCAA this year entering the meet, was up front with Florida's Jeff Demps, who went on to win the race, 40 meters in before pulling up with the injury. He did manage to limp his way to the finish line to place eighth, which will earn him All-American honors for the sixth time in his career, but was hoping for much more entering the race.
Rowland's injury will also impact the Auburn men's 4x100-meter relay team, which will run in the finals on Saturday. Sophomore Neil Danville will likely run in Rowland's place during the race.
"We've had better days, but that's the way a meet like this goes sometimes," said head coach Ralph Spry. "We weren't quite as sharp as we were the first two days. Our women ran well but the competition was just really tough. We still have good opportunities to score a lot of points tomorrow, though. For the men, Marcus going down really hurt us as he's our key guy in the 400 relay. But hopefully someone else will step up for us tomorrow."
The NCAA Championships will conclude on Saturday with Auburn athletes competing in six events. The final day of competition will be shown live on CBS from 12-2 p.m. CT.
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