Track And Field Teams Begin Competition At NCAA Outdoor Championships Wednesday
June 8, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. -
The Auburn men's and women's track and field teams will send 19 athletes (13 men and six women) to Fayetteville, Ark., for the NCAA Outdoor Championships this Wednesday through Saturday. The Tigers, whose men are ranked No. 15 nationally and whose women are No. 20, have 12 individuals and three relays that have qualified for the meet.
The Tigers will be sending a young squad to Fayetteville, as only two of the 19 athletes making the trip are seniors, and just four are juniors. Eight members of the traveling group are sophomores and five are freshmen.
"Everybody that we're taking to this meet has a shot at being an All-American," said head coach Ralph Spry. "This is one of the largest groups we've taken to the NCAA meet in a while, but it's a young group. Very few inexperienced people can come to the NCAA Championships for the first time and have a lot of success, but our younger kids had a good regional meet and performed well at the SEC Championships, and I believe they can excel at this meet. If we compete the way we're capable of, both of our teams could finish in the top 10."
The Auburn men's team has finished in the top 10 in seven of the last 10 years at the NCAA outdoor meet. The Tigers finished tied for second last year and third in 2007. Auburn was also second in 2003, and the Tigers were third in 2000 and fourth in 1999.
The Auburn women won the school's first-ever NCAA Championship in track and field at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, scoring 57 points to easily outdistance second-place USC (38.5 points). Last year Auburn tied for 15th and has now had seven straight top-20 finishes during the outdoor season.
Auburn has won 32 individual national championships over the years at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, including 24 titles by men and eight by women. Auburn has had at least one champion from its men's or women's team for 10 straight years, including six in the last three seasons. However, no member of this year's team has won a national title.
The top-ranked athlete in the competition for the men this season is freshman Marcus Rowland, who enters the meet ranked No. 4 nationally in the 200 meters (20.48). Freshman Girma Mecheso is ranked fifth in the 10,000 meters (28:26.09), and the men's 4x100-meter relay team is ranked eighth (39.50).
Others competing individually for the Auburn men are sophomore Michael DeHaven (200 meters - 12th), junior Eric Werskey (shot put - 12th), freshman Ryan Fleck (high jump - 14th), junior Felix Kiboiywo (1500 meters - 19th), sophomore Zach Clayton (discus - 21st) and junior Jean-Pierre Weerts (5000 meters - 24th). The Tigers also have the 16th-ranked 4x400-meter relay team.
The Tiger women have the nation's second-ranked 4x400-meter relay team (3:31.79), while sophomore Joanna Atkins is ranked fifth in the 400 meters (51.77). Sophomore Cache Armbrister is seeded eighth in the 200 meters (23.22) and senior Raevan Harris is tied for eighth in the high jump (1.83m). Junior Danielle Gilchrist, who is 11th in the 400-meter hurdles (57.83), rounds out the Auburn women's competitors.
There will be five hours of live television coverage of the NCAA Championships. CBS will broadcast live from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. (Central time) on Saturday, during which time Auburn could have finalists in the women's 200 and 400 meters, the men's 200 meters, the men's 1500 meters and the men's and women's 4x400-meter relays.
In addition, CBS College Sports will broadcast live from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. (Central time) on Friday. That time frame covers possible Auburn performances in the finals of the men's 4x100-meter relay, the women's 400-meter hurdles, the men's 5000 meters and the men's high jump, plus the semifinals of the women's 400 meters.
Fans can also watch a live stream of the competition during times with no television broadcast on the NCAA track and field championship page found on www.ncaa.com.
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