Women Finish Tied for 14th at NCAA Outdoors
June 11, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Auburn women's track and field team concluded the final day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships finishing tied for 14th place with 18 points. The highlight of the final day for the Tigers was the women's 4x400 meter relay team that shattered the school record finishing second in 3:26.46, just .15 seconds shy of first-place Texas A&M.
Auburn lead leg CeCe Williams in lane seven got the Tigers out to a strong start, running a 53.1 split before handing the baton to senior Joanna Atkins. Atkins gave Auburn the lead out of turn one and extended the lead through turn two, running her 400 in 50.5.
Third runner Cache Amrbrister posted a 52.1, and extended Auburn's lead to nearly 20 meters in the back stretch of her 400 before handing off to anchor Kai Selvon. Despite posting a PR split, NCAA 400 Champion Jessica Beard of Texas A&M ran a blazing 49.1 split, catching Selvon with a 100 meters left and held off Selvon in a sprint to the finish. Beard's split was the fastest 400 split in NCAA history.
"We ran the best race we could run," Auburn head coach Ralph Spry said. "Unfortunately, Beard from Texas A&M ran the fastest split in NCAA history. When you run a race like our women did, you can't argue. Everyone gave everything they had and that's all you can ask for at this level."
The Tigers' mark broke a previous Drake Stadium record and surpassed the previous school record of 3:27.93 set in 2006.
"Overall, we hoped to finish better as a team," Spry said. "We had some opportunities earlier in the meet that we couldn't capitalize on, but this is such a difficult meet and the points are so spread out. You have to take advantage of every opportunity you have to score."
Earlier in the day, Auburn junior Nivea Smith finished seventh in the women's 200 meters in 22.94.
On the men's side, junior Ben Cheruiyot was 21st in the 5,000, completing the race in 14:27.39. Cheruiyot got out strong early, staying with the lead pack through the first 1,500 meters running in sixth place, however, slowly began to drop back over the final five laps.
"Our men are really young and this was a great experience for them, even though we didn't score," Spry said. "I'm really proud of the way both of our teams competed during the meet."
The AU men, which brought five male athletes, including four freshmen, did not score any team points during the four day meet.
Texas A&M swept the team competitions. The A&M won the women's team title with 49 points followed by Oregon, LSU and Oklahoma. The Aggie men barely won with 54 points, outlasting Florida State and Florida by one point and two points, respectively.
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