College Station, Texas - Auburn capped off a strong NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with three medalist performances Saturday highlighted by sophomore Akeem Bloomfield’s silver in the men’s 400m with a school-record time of 44.86. Bloomfield helped lead the men to an eighth-place finish with 24 points. The women tied for 20th with 11 points. Auburn had four individual and one relay that placed in the top five during the championship.
Sophomore Raheem Chambers also claimed a silver medal with a personal-best time 6.53 in the men’s 60m, while redshirt freshman Natalliah Whyte broke the Auburn women’s 60m indoor school record as she finished third in 7.12.
“We had a tremendous weekend as a team with a top 10 finish on the men’s side and top 20 finish for the women,” Auburn head coach Ralph Spry said. “I thought we competed to the level of our competition and peaked at the right time.”
Bloomfield’s blazing 44.86 time won heat one of two timed finals, but Southern California sophomore Michael Norman broke the 400m world record crossing in 44.52 in the second heat to win the event. Bloomfield’s time was not only a school record but was the seventh fastest time ever in the world and the fifth fastest collegiate time ever.
“Akeem ran an incredible race, unfortunately the person in the other heat broke a world record,” Spry said. “Nathon had a huge PR in the 400 and Raheem ran a really good race and had a great meet. He had a PR in prelims and another great race in finals.”
In Bloomfield’s heat, the Jamaican outdistanced fellow countryman and teammate Nathon Allen, who crossed second in the heat in a personal-best 45.72, good for fifth place.
“It was a very good race,” Bloomfield said. “A time of 44.86 is a pretty fast time. I didn’t get the win, but I’m happy with the time. I feel happy about the race and the entire indoor season.”
In the men’s 60m, Chambers, who had the fastest qualifying time on Friday, led for a majority of the race before Houston’s Elijah Hall edged him at the line in 6.52. The Kingston, Jamaica native’s time is the second-fastest in school history behind Coby Miller’s 6.50 set in 200.
“I’m very grateful to finish second place and have a new PR,” Chambers said. “I’m a bit disappointed because I wanted the gold, unfortunately that didn’t happen, so I just have to refocus and get better for outdoors.”
Whyte’s school-record time of 7.12 broke Kerron Stewart’s 11-year old mark of 7.14 set in 2007. A St. Catherine, Jamaica native, Whyte became Auburn’s highest freshman finisher at the NCAA Indoor meet since Marshay Ryan’s silver in the triple jump in 2014.
“Today my only aim was to remain composed, execute and finish the race,” Whyte said. “At the line before the starter said ‘on your mark’ the only thing in my head was ‘get to the line, get to the line, get to the line’ and that’s what I did. I’m very happy. It’s my first indoor national meet. I ran a personal best, set a school record and finished third. I’m overwhelmed.”
Jonielle Smith was fourth in the women’s 60m in a time of 7.19. It was the fourth time in the last five races that the senior from Kingston, Jamaica broke 7.20.
“On the women’s side, Natalliah and Jonielle had great races in the women’s 60 and posted excellent times. Natalliah’s school record breaking Kerron’s mark is really impressive. Overall, I’m proud of the way our kids lined up and competed. It was a great weekend.”
The quartet of senior Randall Ceneus, junior Joshua Burks, Allen and Bloomfield finished fifth in the men’s 4x400m relay in 3:05.30 the second fastest time in school history after winning the first of four timed heats. Allen and Bloomfield posted splits of 45.01 and 45.14 to lead the Tigers. It was the highest finish at nationals for Auburn in the event since 2001.
The men’s 4x400m relay witnessed three teams ahead of Auburn that broke the previous collegiate record including Southern California that broke the world record.
Senior Jakayla Hand, competing in her first NCAA Championship meet, placed 14 th in the women’s triple jump. The Opelika, Ala., native’s best mark was on her second of three attempts with a jump of 12.57m/41-3.
The men’s eighth-place is their highest finish indoor nationals since 2005, while the women’s top 20 finish was its best since 2014. It is the first time since 2010 that both programs concluded the indoor season both in the top 20.
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