June 23, 2012
“There is so much emotion that goes into the trials,” Auburn head coach Ralph Spry said. “Everyone handles it differently. I feel good about Marcus [Rowland] and Keenan [Brock]. It was raining hard during warm ups. I told them to ‘stay tough.’ They didn’t let it rattle them. They matured today and both ran solid races. Marcus won his heat to move on and Keenan got an automatic qualifying spot too. Marcus has been here before, but this is huge for Keenan. This experience is irreplaceable. I’m excited about tomorrow.”
Rowland crossed the finish line first in the second heat in 10.16 seconds, ahead of Florida’s Jeff Demps (10.18). His mark was the ninth fastest on the day and ensured him a top lane in the semifinals.
Still less than two years removed from a hamstring injury and year removed from a redshirt season, Rowland’s performance on Saturday was even more confirmation for Spry that the soon-to-be senior is back.
“I think he’s back,” Spry said. “He’s made it through a year healthy. Next year is when everyone will really see it. This is a guy that ran 10.02 as a freshman. He’s back to that form. Next year, people will see all of Marcus Rowland.”
Also moving on to the 100-meter semifinals is the sophomore Brock. The Birmingham native finished in third place in the third 100-meter heat with a mark of 10.26 seconds to earn an automatic berth to the semifinals.
Both Rowland and Brock will run in the second heat of Saturday’s semifinals with U.S. record holder Tyson Gay. The next round of competition is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT. The finals will be held during the live television window that begins at 6 p.m. CT on NBC.
Auburn alumni Cory Martin finished the opening round of the shot put in seventh place with a long throw of 62-10.75 (19.17m). He also posted throws of 60-5.25 (18.42m) and 61-9 (18.82m). Another former Tiger, Eric Werskey, grabbed the last spot in the finals thanks to a top mark of 61-7 (18.77m).
“That is big for both those guys,” Spry said. “They come back on Sunday and get three more throws and the top three make the team.”
Marks in the opening round of the shot put were hindered by a driving rain that forced delays in the running events. Both men will compete for a top-three finish and a spot in London in the finals of the shot put on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
Former Auburn sprinter Joanna Atkins saw her Olympic dream end on Saturday as she finished in fifth in the second women’s 400 meter semifinal heat and ninth overall as the first woman out of Sunday’s finals. Her mark of 51.76 seconds was an improvement from her time of 52.20 on Friday.
Auburn’s action begins with the 100 meters on Sunday and is followed by the shot put and potentially the men’s 100-meter finals at 6:48 p.m. CT. Live television coverage will be available on NBC from 6-7 p.m. CT. For the latest on Auburn track and field, follow @AUTrack on Twitter.