May 17, 2014
Lexington, Ky. - The Auburn track and field program had a solid third day at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field meet as five athletes scored for the Tigers and another six competing in preliminary heats advanced to Sunday's finals.
Throwers Valentina Muzaric and Rachel Dincoff finished third and fourth in the women's shot put and senior Marcus Popenfoose was eighth in the men's discus. Auburn also scored points in the 3,000 steeplechase with strong performances from senior Niklas Buhner who was third and true freshman Rachel Givens who was seventh on the women's side.
"I'm impressed with our athletes, especially our young athletes," head coach Ralph Spry said. "We competed well today. We had several PRs and Valentina competed well with a bad knee. Niklas ran a really gutsy race and Rachel did a great job, especially considering she had only run the steeplechase once before. I like the way both lined up and competed.
Buhner finished in 8:54.60, crushing his previous best in the steeplechase by nearly 17 seconds. Givens, competing in the steeplechase for the first time was strong throughout to finish in 10:26.25.
Valentina threw 55-1/16.79m on her third attempt to claim third, while Dincoff established a new personal best with a throw of 54-2/16.51m for fourth. Popenfoose threw a season-best mark of 179-2/54.63m for the eighth-place finish in the discus.
The Auburn women are seventh overall with 14 points, while the men are in eighth place (10 points).
"Today was a huge day for us and put us in a position to score points on the final day," Spry said. "We ran well and had several qualify for finals Sunday and have Steven Saenz and Marshay Ryan competing tomorrow, which is huge. Obviously, we want to be in a better position, but I'm pleased with where we are especially with a young team."
Hurdlers Samantha Scarlett and Ebony Morrison advanced to Sunday's finals of the women's 100m hurdles after each finished second in their heats. Scarlett posted a 13.19 in the third heat, while Morrison recorded a personal-best 13.20 in the first heat. Their times were the fifth and sixth fastest overall in the prelims.
Junior Kane Grimster qualified for the finals of the men's 1,500m after finishing third in the first heat. Grimster led through the first 700 meters and closed strong over the last 200 to finish in 3:56.74.
Sophomore Torrey Campbell was third in his heat of the men's 110m hurdles in 13.67, qualifying for Sunday's finals. Campbell's time was a personal best and the fifth fastest overall prelim time.
In the women's 100m prelims, freshman SheKara Martin advanced to Sunday's finals after finishing third in her heat and seventh overall in a personal best time of 11.46. Senior V'Alonee Robinson also established new PR running a 11.53, but just missed qualifying for the finals.
Freshman Teray Smith set a PR in the men's 100m with a time of 10.41, to finish fifth in his heat and qualifying for finals as he was ninth overall. Smith will compete in both the 100 and 200 finals on Sunday.
Sunday's final day of competition begins at 10 a.m. CT with the field events. Running events begin at 1 p.m.
The SEC Championships will be streamed live on ESPN3 Sunday from 12:50 pm-4:50 pm CT. The 2014 SEC Outdoor Championships will air as part of a two-hour show on ESPNU on Thursday, May 22, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Live scoring for the SEC Championships can be found online at http://branchsportstech.com/2014_Meets/outdoor/05-15-sec