Track and Field Opens Indoor Season in Birmingham
Jan. 13, 2012
AUBURN - Auburn track and field opens the 2012 season on Saturday at the new Birmingham Crossplex with the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener hosted by the University of Alabama.
"Everybody is excited," head coach Ralph Spry said. "By the time the season rolls around everybody is pretty much refueled and really excited to open up the season. I'm excited about the possibilities about how good we can be at the national level."
On the men's side, Auburn is expected to have one of the faster trios of sprinters in the country with returning All-Americans senior Marcus Rowland and junior Harry Adams as well as talented sophomore Keenan Brock. The Tigers will also welcome back senior All-American Michael DeHaven, who redshirted the 2011 season.
"We are really talented in the sprint department," Spry said. "We also have some really good throwers and distance runners, so we are pretty well balanced. If we can keep everybody healthy I think we will have a really good year with the men."
The throwers will be led by returning SEC champion and All-American Stephen Saenz. The sophomore took home SEC titles during both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2011.
"Stephen is a special talent," Spry said. "Last year as a freshman, he was an All-American and SEC Champion. That is huge for a freshman. The way he conducts himself and the confidence that he displays while competing is amazing."
Saenz is joined by sophomore Marcus Popenfoose to form a dangerous tandem for Auburn in the throwing events. The men's team is also expected to be bolstered by freshman Kane Grimster in the mile run and sophomore high jumper DJ Smith is a returning national qualifier.
After losing multiple All-Americans from the 2011 squad, the women's team is in a rebuilding year, but the coaching staff is intrigued by the potential of the 2012 team.
"We have a lot of talent with the women, but we have a lot of young talent," Spry said. "A lot of time you don't know how they are going to respond until you get to the competition, but we do have the potential to be maybe a top-10 or top-15 team nationally."
Senior Nivea Smith and junior Kai Selvon are former All-Americans that competed in the World Championships last year in South Korea for the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago, respectively. Both will be looked to for leadership with the young team.
"Both these ladies competed at the world championships this summer and are very, very talented and experienced in terms of international competition and are All-Americans and SEC Champions," Spry said. "They are two people I am leaning on the hardest to take the team by the horns and give us some of the leadership we are going to need to keep the freshmen headed in the right direction."
Saturday's meet is being held at the new Birmingham CrossPlex, a 750,000 square foot, multi-purpose athletic and meeting facility in Birmingham, Alabama. Auburn will host the Auburn Invitational at the same location on January 21.
The facility features a state-of-the-art indoor track stadium that holds seating for 4,000 fans, a 200-meter hydraulically banked Mondo Super X track, eight-lane sprint track and double runways and rings for all field events.
The first field event begins at 9:30 a.m. CST with the men's high jump followed by the women's weight throw at 10 a.m. Action on the track begins at noon with the 60-meter prelims. Events are scheduled to run until 5:45 p.m.
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