March 8, 2018
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Six individuals, including three men and three women, and the men's 4x400m relay are set to compete at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Friday and Saturday at the Gillam Indoor Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Here's a breakdown of Auburn's events and competitors:
MEN'S 60M DASH PRELIMS--FRIDAY 6:05 P.M.
Sophomore Raheem Chambers claimed a bronze medal at the SEC Indoor Championships two weeks ago with a time of 6.63. Chambers currently holds the sixth fastest time in the country with a 6.60, a mark he set earlier in the year at the Tyson Invitational. He was an NCAA Outdoor second team All-America as a freshman. The Kingston, Jamaica, native will vie to become Auburn's first medalist in the event at nationals since Marcus Rowland claimed silver in 2013.
The top eight competitors will advance to Saturday's finals at 4:30 p.m.
WOMEN'S 60M DASH PRELIMS--FRIDAY 6:15 P.M.
Senior Jonielle Smith (Kingston, Jamaica) and redshirt freshman Natalliah Whyte (St. Catherine, Jamaica) will be making their first NCAA appearance and currently rank third and fifth respectively in the nation in the event. Smith was second at SEC Indoors where she tied her PR with a time of 7.18. Whyte was a SEC All-Freshman performer after finishing fifth at SECs while tying a PR time of 7.19.
The top eight competitors will advance to Saturday's finals at 4:40 p.m.
MEN'S 400M PRELIMS--FRIDAY 6:25 P.M.
Sophomore Akeem Bloomfield, Auburn's school record holder at 400m indoors was the SEC Champion in the event two weeks ago in College Station. He became the school's first SEC indoor champion in the event since Avard Moncur in 2001. Bloomfield has the nation's second fastest time of 45.02, set earlier this year at the Tiger Paw Invite. The Kingston, Jamaica native will team with fellow Jamaican Nathon Allen in the event. A redshirt freshman, Allen (Spanish Town, Jamaica) was the bronze medalist at SEC Indoors (46.07) and was the 2017 NCAA Outdoors silver medalist in Eugene nine months ago.
Bloomfield and Allen will look to become the Tigers' first medalists in the event at indoor nationals since Sanjay Ayre was third in 2003. Auburn has a storied history in the event with four NCAA Championships at 400m/440y. Olympian Willie Smith won the 400y dash in back-to-back years in 1977 and '78, while James Walker made it three years in a row for the Tigers, winning in 1979. Clifton Campbell won gold at 400m in 1988 in Oklahoma City.
The top eight competitors will advance to Saturday's finals at 4:50 p.m.
WOMEN'S TRIPLE JUMP FINALS--SATURDAY 3:30 P.M.
Senior Jakayla Hand will make her first-ever appearance at an NCAA Championship after recording a qualifying jump of 13.30m/43-7.75 at the SEC Indoor meet to finish fourth in the event. The Opelika, Ala., native enters the meet seeded eighth nationally. Hand joins Michelle Vaughn (2006-07) and Marshay Ryan (2014-16-17) of Auburn athletes in the last 13 years to compete in the event. Elva Goulbourne won the event for the Tigers in 2004 (13.78m).
MEN'S 4x400m RELAY--SATURDAY 6:40 P.M.
The Tiger quartet of senior Randall Ceneus, junior Joshua Burks, Allen and Bloomfield recorded Auburn's fastest time in the event in 32 years with a 3:06.09 at the SEC Indoor Championship. The time was the second-best in school history and trails only the 3:04.22 set by Kevin Henderson, Bruce Hardy, Steve Griffiths and Clifton Campbell in 1986.
Auburn's last 4x400m relay to compete at the NCAA Indoors was in 2005 and last to medal was silver in 1991. The Tigers are seeded 14th in the event, but less than two seconds separate the No. 4 team and Auburn. Junior Xavier Coakley (Nassau, Bahamas) will serve as the Tigers' alternate in the event.
The event is a two heat timed final.
QUOTING AUBURN HEAD COACH RALPH SPRY
"I'm really excited for this weekend's competition. Our goal is to leave nationals with each person earning All-America honors. That would be a great accomplishment and would mean scoring points in all events contested. Our sprinters are seeded fairly high, which is good, but it also means they must run well twice and that means a small margin for error."
I'm proud of this group and how they've competed and progressed each indoor meet this season. They are running well and hitting on all cylinders coming off very good performances at SEC Indoors."
We have a chance to do good things here. We need to handle business on Friday to compete and advance to Saturday. Track and field is about performing well when it counts. I feel good about this group, they've done well all year. They are excited, ready to compete and looking forward to the challenge."
TELEVISION COVERAGE/LIVE STATS/SOCIAL MEDIA
The championships will air on ESPN3 Friday beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT and Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. ESPN2 will televise a re-air on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Live results: https://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/external/track-field/results/d1/indoor18/index.htm
Follow Auburn track and field on social media at @AuburnTFXC on twitter/Instagram and www.faceboom.com/AuburnTFXC on Facebook.
Auburn's indoor season concludes and the Tigers will take a week off of competition before opening the outdoor season March 23 at the Florida State Relays in Tallahassee, Fla.