May 31, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Seven Tigers punched their ticket to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, the final day of competition, at the NCAA East Preliminaries at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. A total of nine Tigers will represent Auburn at the NCAA Championships, which will be held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., on June 11-14.
"It is hard to get to a meet like this and have everything hit perfect, which we almost did today," head coach Ralph Spry said. "We did well today. We had some high and lows, and thankfully we had more highs. I was really proud of our hurdlers. It is very impressive. If they keep it up they have a very good chance of making the finals in Eugene. The 200m guys, Teray Smith and Khalil Henderson, did a great job. Khalil set two personal bests at the meet and that just tells you that things are going in the right direction. He can run fast at the right times. I am proud of DJ Smith for qualifying Nationals in his senior year.
“In the shot put, Valentina (Muzaric) is nursing a sore knee, so we just wanted to push her through. Rachel Dincoff had a big PR at the SECs and was close to setting another one here. Unfortunately for Marshay Ryan, she was 13th in the triple jump and we really thought she was a shoe in.
“We have a good group going to Nationals. All of them have a chance to score and that is what it is all about. It is about quality at Nationals. I am frustrated in some areas, but all in all, I am very happy with the way we competed. We are reloading this year, and I am excited where we are going to be next year with the group we have now."
In the women’s 100m hurdles, junior Samantha Scarlett finished second in heat one with a personal best time of 13.01 to advance to the National Championships. In the second heat, freshman Ebony Morrison recorded a new personal best time of 13.06 en route to a third place finish. Morrison and Scarlett become the first Tigers to qualify for Nationals in the event since Josanne Lucas in 2006.
"I almost thought I wasn't going to make it down the track," Scarlett said. "I was so nervous heading down the final stretch. I am looking forward to competing at Nationals."
"I had just gotten done running the 4x100 relay and I was so exhausted," Morrison said. "I just left it up to God. I am so blessed. I am so happy I ran a PR. I am so blessed and thankful. It means the world to me to be able to make it to Nationals. I do this for my mom and the Lord and I am just so thankful."
Freshmen Khalil Henderson and Teray Smith advanced to NCAA Championships in the 200m as Henderson finished second in heat two with a PR time of 20.63. Smith placed fourth in the first advance, but qualified with eighth best time at 20.68.
"I felt good coming out of the curve and I saw I was in third place," Henderson said. "I knew that the top-3 made it, so I just had to push it to make it to Nationals. Not too many people get this opportunity. I am just grateful."
"I was happy with my performance today," Smith said. "I was down yesterday after I ran a 20.98. I just had to execute. I knew coming in that I was going to have a fast heat. This is a big stepping stone for me. I am so happy to make my family proud, and to represent Auburn in Oregon."
In the men’s high jump, senior DJ Smith qualified for his second NCAA Championships with a clearance of 7-1.5/2.17m.
"I could have done much better today," Smith said. "However, I am satisfied. I did what I needed to do in order to advance. Overall, I am very excited. Going back to Oregon is always a blessing. Give thanks to God, because without him I wouldn't have been able to do this. I am blessed to be able to compete at the NCAA Championships."
Sophomore Rachel Dincoff finished eighth in the shot put to advance to her first NCAA Championships with a distance of 54-1.75/16.50m. Junior Valentina Muzaric qualified with the 10th longest throw at 54.05/16.47m.
“I am really excited,” Dincoff said. “I am so blessed to be here in the first place. I don’t know what to say. I am thankful for my coaches and my teammates. I am so excited to prepare for Nationals. It has been my dream to go there, and now it has become a reality. I am just really thankful.”
"The goal was to qualify," Muzaric said. "Luckily Nationals aren't for two weeks, so I have a chance to rehab my knee. I hope I can go over 17 meters again, so I can make the finals."
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