June 13, 2008
DES MOINES, Iowa -
Cory Martin won the hammer throw and the Tigers had seven All-Americans and broke two schools records during a stellar performance Friday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Joining Martin earning All-America honors were Jacob Dunkleberger (hammer throw) and Reuben McCoy (400m hurdles) on the men's side, while Raevan Harris (high jump), Amelia Anderson (400m hurdles), Danielle Gilchrist (400m hurdles), and Hollie Knight (5,000m) achieved All-America status for the women.
With 13 events completed, the Auburn men are in third place with 26 points, trailing Florida State (32) and LSU (31). The women are in seventh place with 14 points, after 11 events, but have no more competitors remaining during the championships.
"I'm really impressed with how we lined up today," said "Everybody that competed had personal bests or did at least as well as they were expected to do coming in. Today was the most important day for us and it put us in position so that if we do what we need to do tomorrow, we can finish in the top three on the men's side. On the women's side, today's performance gives us a shot at a top-25 finish, which is very pleasing."
Auburn's top-ranked senior hammer throwers staged an epic battle in that event, trading leads and Drake Stadium records until the final throw. Martin broke the stadium record on his first attempt with a mark of 72.83 meters (238-11) that seemed as though it would be good enough to win the title.
But on his fourth throw, Dunkleberger set a new personal best with a mark of 72.98m (239-5) to take the lead, much as he did last year when he won the NCAA title after finishing just behind Martin all season up to that point. Martin's next two throws were close but not enough to improve his mark as he stepped into the circle for the final throw of the competition. He unleashed a throw of 74.13m (243-2) on his last attempt to take the title and win his first NCAA Championship. Martin, who will also throw the shot put tomorrow, smashed his previous best and school record of 73.11m (239-10).
"I thought after my first throw it was in the bag, but Jake came back and kind of surprised me," said Martin. "On my last throw I just thought I had to give it all I've got. This is what I trained for all year. It's fun when it's you and your teammate and you have 18 points locked up."
"We both threw our best and that's all you can ask out of anybody," said Dunkleberger. "It's been our goal all year to finish 1-2. I tried to do the same thing I do at every national championship - I try to build a rhythm then hit a couple of throws. I did that today, but it just turned out that today my best wasn't quite good enough."
Just as the hammer throw was ending, junior Raevan Harris was bidding for an NCAA title in the women's high jump. Harris set a season best while becoming one of just three competitors to clear 1.86m (6-1.25). With all three jumpers holding two misses at 1.89m (6-2.25), Harris just missed on her third attempt, clipping the bar on her way down. The other two finalists also missed, and Harris was awarded third because the other two had fewer misses during the competition.
Harris, who cleared five bars during the competition in which she was seeded seventh, earned her first career All-American honor in her fourth career NCAA Championship meet.
"Even though I finished third I'm a little disappointed because I could have made the last height," said Harris. "I slowed down at the end on that last jump and it felt like time stood still at the top of that jump, and I got it on the way down. I'm still excited and now I think I can do even better during my senior year. I've gotten a taste of what it feels like to be an All-American."
Senior Reuben McCoy jumped out quick in the men's 400m hurdles and led the race over every hurdle before being outstretched at the finish line by Washington State freshman Jeshua Anderson, to finish second in a personal-best time of 48.71, just .02 behind Anderson. It was the third time in McCoy's career that he earned outdoor All-America honors in the event.
"This was the final piece to the puzzle of my college career," McCoy said. "I wanted to go out hard and I knew if I could get out far enough, it might take everybody else out of their game. I just had a bad second half, technically, and it seems that's what cost me the championship."
In the women's 400m hurdles finals, Amelia Anderson and Danielle Gilchrist earned All-American honors for the first time by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Anderson crossed in a personal-best time of 57.12, while Gilchrist finished in 57.81.
Freshman distance runner Hollie Knight capped an outstanding rookie season by finishing eighth in the 5,000m, in a personal-best time of 16:11.46, which is the second-best time in school history. The Devon, England, native is the first Auburn woman ever to earn All-American honors in the 5,000m.
In the men's 5,000m, sophomore Felix Kiboiywo finished 13th in a time of 14:02.65, two places better than his seeding of 15th.
Senior Ty Akins will attempt to defend his NCAA Championship in the 110m hurdles on Saturday after breaking the stadium and school records with a time of 13.25 in the semifinals on Friday. Akins was impressive in defeating top-ranked Jason Richardson of South Carolina, who was second in 13.29, while shattering his previous personal best and school-record mark of 13.42 set during the final at last year's NCAA meet. His time was just .04 seconds shy of the NCAA meet record.
Auburn will have just two competitors during the final day of competition. Martin will compete in the shot put at 3 p.m. CT, and Akins will run in the 110m hurdles at 4:02 p.m.
There will be live television coverage of the meet from 3-5 p.m. CT on CBS.