College Station, Texas -
The Jamaican trio of Akeem Bloomfield, Raheem Chambers and Nathon Allen on the men's side along with Jonielle Smith and Natalliah Whyte on the women's side paced the Auburn track and field team on Day 1of the 2018 SEC Indoor Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium. All five posted prelim times fast enough to return to finals on Sunday, while miler Wesley Curles and hurdler Xavier Coakley also advanced.
Bloomfield, who entered the meet with the nation's No. 2 time in the 400m, clocked the fastest time of the meet in 45.76. He will look to become Auburn's first SEC Indoor Champion in the event since Avard Moncur in 2001. Allen also advanced to Sunday's with a personal-best time of 46.03.
"On the men's side we did a really good job today. Our key athletes--Akeem, Nathon, Raheem, Wesley and Xavier--that needed to get thru and advance were able to against tough competition," Auburn head coach Ralph Spry said. "It was huge because we should be able to put up some solid points on Sunday. We had some other solid performances that just came up short of advancing.
Smith and Whyte qualified for finals in the 60m as Whyte equaled her personal best, finishing in 7.19, while Smith crossed in 7.30. Chambers recorded the third fastest qualifying time in the men's 60m, finishing in 6.67. In the 200m, Whyte broke her own school freshman record in 23.33 to finish 13th.
"Natalliah and Jonielle have been two of the better sprinters in the country this year and they looked good today. We need to come back tomorrow and finish strong," Spry said.
Curles finished in 4:05.42 with the second fastest qualifying time in the men's mile to advance to Sunday's finals. It's the third consecutive year that Curles has made finals in the mile at SEC Indoors.
Coakley ran a 7.95 in the men's 60m hurdles in advance to the finals for the first time in his Auburn career after finishing ninth as a sophomore and 10th as a freshman.
Thru four events in the heptathlon, junior Chris Stone is in fifth place with 3,072 points. Stone set a new PR in the long jump with a leap of 6.82m/22-4.5. Sunday's events will include the 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1000m.
Senior Dominique Bullock posted a season best in the women's long jump with a leap of 6.06m/19-10.75 to finish ninth.
Sophomore Presley Weems competing in her first SEC Championship was 12th in the women's 800m with a personal best 2:10.63, breaking her previous best by nearly two seconds.
Sunday's action will air live on the SEC Network from 5-9 p.m. CT. Live results can be found at www.flashresults.com.