Auburn Hosts SEC Track And Field Championships Thursday Through Sunday
May 14, 2008
The Auburn men's and women's track and field teams will host the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday through Sunday at Hutsell-Rosen Track. It will mark the first time Auburn has hosted the meet since 1997. The competition begins Thursday at 2:30 p.m. with the first day of the decathlon and heptathlon.
Tickets can be purchased at the track complex and cost $10 for adults and $5 for college students and younger each day. An all-session pass for all four days can be purchased for $20 for adults and $10 for students.
The meet will bring many of the top track and field programs in the nation to Auburn. Eight of the 11 men's teams are ranked in the top 25 nationally, while six of 12 women's programs are nationally ranked.
Auburn's men are ranked No. 8 in the nation, but follow No. 3 Florida and No. 4 LSU in the rankings. Other ranked teams include No. 14 Tennessee, No. 15 Arkansas, No. 17 Kentucky, No. 22 South Carolina and No. 24 Georgia.
On the women's side, No. 25 Auburn is joined in the rankings by No. 2 LSU, No. 9 Florida, No. 13 Arkansas, No. 19 Ole Miss and No. 23 Tennessee.
"We're excited to host the SEC Championships," said Auburn head coach Ralph Spry. "There will be a lot of world-class athletes competing this weekend, including many who will go on to the Olympics. This meet will give us a chance to show off our track facility as well as our own athletes. We've been looking forward to this meet for a long time and we're hoping to score a lot of points and challenge for the team title. We're rested and ready to go."
Auburn has won four men's SEC outdoor team titles, but the last came in 1979. The Tigers will rely heavily on their throwers and hurdlers to challenge for the crown this year.
The throws group includes the SEC's two top-ranked hammer throw competitors in seniors Cory Martin and Jacob Dunkleberger, who also rank first and second in the NCAA, respectively, in that event. Martin, who single-handedly scored 28 points at last year's SEC outdoor meet by winning the hammer throw and shot put and placing second in the discus, enters the competition ranked second in the shot put and 12th in the discus this year. Dunkleberger is the defending NCAA champion in the hammer throw.
The Tigers have a group of four discus throwers who could all score, led by senior Edis Elkasevic (ranked fifth in the SEC), freshman Zach Clayton (seventh), sophomore Eric Werskey (ninth) and Martin. Martin and Werskey are also ranked second and third, respectively, in the shot put.
Two senior hurdlers for Auburn are also among the best in the nation. Ty Akins is the defending NCAA and SEC champion in the 110m hurdles and is currently ranked No. 3 in the NCAA this season. Reuben McCoy, an All-American in the 400m hurdles, is ranked third in the conference and sixth nationally in that event.
In the distance events, sophomore Felix Kiboiywo is ranked fourth in the 1500m and 5000m, while sophomore Jean-Pierre Weerts is sixth in the 5000m and eighth in the 1500m. Scott Novack is ranked sixth in the 3000m steeplechase.
The Auburn women have yet to win an SEC team title, but came very close in 2006, when the Tigers were edged by Georgia by one point. Auburn has a young but talented squad this season, though, that will score some points but may be a year or two away from contending for another team title.
Freshman Joanna Atkins is the only woman in the SEC to be ranked in the top five in the 100m, 200m and 400m, as she enters the meet ranked third in the 400m and fifth in the other two events. Freshman Cache Anderson is ranked seventh in the 200m.
In the hurdles, sophomore Danielle Gilchrist owns the SEC's third-best mark in the 400m hurdles, and the fifth-best time in the 100m hurdles. Junior Amelia Anderson is fourth in the 400m hurdles and third in the long jump.
Freshman Hollie Knight and sophomore Laurel Pritchard have been the top distance performers, as Pritchard ranks fourth in the 10,000m and Knight is sixth in the 5000m and seventh in the 10,000m. Freshman Amber Riley is seeded eighth in the 3000m steeplechase.
The women also have the league's No. 2-ranked 4x400m relay team and the No. 5 4x100m relay team.
The meet will be shown on a tape-delay basis on FSN South on Saturday, May 24 at 6 p.m., and on SportSouth on June 17 and 23 at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., and on June 20 at 7 p.m.
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