Head coach Ralph Spry said that two or three weeks ago he was concerned that injuries could impact how the men's team performs this week, but noted that he currently feels good about the health of his Tigers, who go into the competition ranked 10th nationally. The team has high hopes of doing better than that their ranking.
"I really believe that 40-45 points will be enough to win it this year," Spry said about the men's meet. "And, we're certainly capable of scoring that amount of points, but a lot of good things have to happen."
The men's team is led by the 4x100 meter relay. Although the group is seeded third based on its time in the regional preliminary meet, the Tigers are the favorite now that all four members of the relay are back to full speed.
Harry Adams, Keenan Brock, Marcus Rowland and Michael DeHaven are scheduled to run the 4x100. That combination of sprinters ran a time of 38.30 seconds at the Texas Relays, the fastest by collegians since June of 1998, and the third fastest in NCAA history.
Adams, Brock and Rowland are also competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints. "We've got three guys in the 100 and I think all three have a very good chance of scoring well there," Spry said. "There are three guys in 200 meters, and if we can get three through (to the finals) that would be great. That would be a swing event for us at the end of the day."
Rowland has faced ups and downs this season due to injuries. Spry said he is happy to see the two-time All-American healthy again. Adams was held out of several events this spring when he was less than 100 percent, but is ready to go full speed this week in Des Moines.
"They got very sharp at the preliminary round so now that they're healthy I really expect them to have improvement at this next meet because they're more confident now," Spry said.
Spry added that Adams has a chance to win either the 100 or 200 meters. He is ranked third in the 200, but according to the coach is a "beast" in 100. "Harry's a guy who can win both events and is a key guy in the 4x100 relay," the coach pointed out. "Harry has to have a big meet. Keenan Brock has to have a big meet."
Keenan Brock is shown in action during the indoor season.
Spry called Brock his "ironclad" because the sophomore has avoided injuries the entire season. "He's such a good technical runner, and the better you are technically the less you get out of position when you're sprinting," Spry said. "He's a key guy and the best thing about Keenan and these other three guys is they all return next year."
Spry said Florida State is considered the favorite going into the meet based on its strong group of sprinters, but said in his opinion a variety of different teams could end up in first place.
"This is one of those years that it's going to be really tight." He said if everything goes perfectly the Tigers have a chance to be one of the top scorers. "If we have a great meet, we could be right there," he noted.
"I feel our guys have competed well all year long and I feel good about them running well in the semi-finals," the coach said. "I think everyone can be All-American"
Auburn's success at the NCAA Championships will also depend on how well SEC shot put champion Stephen Saenz performs as the Spry looks for his eighth Top 10 national finish as AU's coach. The sophomore also qualified for the meet in the discus, but the shot put is his best event.
The shot put features one of the strongest fields at the meet. Spry said that his two-time SEC champ could finish anywhere from first to fifth if he throws well this week.
The women's team doesn't have as much depth, but Spry has hopes the squad will perform well this week.
"I think Kai Selvon is running very well," he said. "I think she's a little better at 200 meters right now than 100, but if she can score in both events like we think she can that will be huge."
Selvon, who ran her fastest 200 at the NCAA preliminary meet in 23.01 seconds, is also a part of the 4x100 relay team, which Spry said is "pretty solid."
Maya Pressley enters the NCAA Championships as the No. 7-ranked high jumper. "She has been jumping pretty good all year long," Spry said. "In terms of ability and potential, she's up there with the best in the country."
"Top 10 with the men would be great and Top 15 with the women would be awesome," Spry said. "But, I'd like to bring some hardware home (top three). It's been a couple of years."
The men's top NCAA meet finishes came in 2003 and 2008 when Tigers placed second. The top finish for the women's team was a first place at the 2006 championships.
Wednesday, June 6:
2:30 p.m. Men's Discus Trials and Final, Saenz
5:30 p.m. Men's 4x100 Relay Semi-finals
5:45 p.m. Women's 4x100 Relay Semi-finals
7:00 p.m. Women's 400 Semi-finals, Cece Williams
7:15 p.m. Men's 100 Semi-finals, Adams, Brock, Rowland
7:30 p.m. Women's 100 Semi-finals, Selvon
Thursday, June 7:
5:30 p.m. Men's 200 Semi-finals, Adams, Brock, Rowland
5:45 p.m. Women's 200 Semi-finals, Selvon
Friday, June 8:
4:30 p.m. Women's High Jump, Pressley
5:55 p.m. Men's 100 Final, Adams, Brock, Rowland
6:02 p.m. Women's 100 Final, Selvon
7:02 p.m. Women's 400 Final, Williams
Saturday, June 9:
10:00 a.m. Men's Shot Put Trials and Final, Saenz
11:03 a.m. Men's 4x100 Final
11:10 a.m. Women's 4x100 Final
11:39 a.m. 200 Final Adams, Brock, Rowland
11:47 a.m. Women's 200 Final, Selvon