Sands Wins Title, But Tigers Struggle As a Team

Auburn was looking for a much better showing at the 2004 NCAA Track and Field Championships.

Auustin, Tex.--The second-ranked men's team finally got on the scoreboard on the final day of what turned out to be a disappointing NCAA Track and Field Championships. Leevan Sands led the way with a victory in the triple jump, but AU only managed to finish in a tie for 23rd place.

Leevan Sands

The 22-ranked women's team outperformed its national ranking, finishing in a tie for 18th place with Washington. The men scored 13 points to finish in a tie with the host school, Texas.

SEC champion Arkansas won the men's competition with 65 1/2 points. Florida was second with 49 points and LSU was third with 31. In the women's competition, UCLA scored 69 for a one-point victory over LSU.

"This was a tough meet," Auburn head coach Ralph Spry said Saturday night. "A lot of things didn't happen our way this time. Sometimes you have good meets and sometimes you have bad ones. Unfortunately for us, this was not a good one.

"We will just have to regroup and start preparing for next year," Spry added. "We have a great group of guys coming back and newcomers coming in. I look forward to the 2005 season."

One key contributor not returning is Sands, who finished his collegiate career on a high note after a disappointment earlier in the meet when he was not able to score in the long jump, an event in which he was the defending champion.

Sands won the triple jump with an effort of 56 feet, two inches. Aarik Wilson, a junior from Indiana, was the runnerup at 55-6 1/2.

"I was pretty satisfied with my jump coming after yesterday's preliminary where I jumped 17.17 (56 feet, four inches)," Sands said. "I want to thank God for finishing healthy. Now I can move on to the Olympics and see if I can do better. I was pretty successful and had some good jumps this season and qualified for the Olympics in both the triple and long jump for The Bahamas."

The War Eagle Has Landed: Shelly-Ann Gallimore hits the pit in the triple jump competition.

The top performance for the women's team on Saturday also came from a senior and also came in the triple jump. Shelly-Ann Gallimore finished in fourth place with a best jump of 44-9 1/2. Gallimore, the 2001 NCAA champ in the event, was the leading qualifier coming into the finals. Ineta Radevica of Nebraska won at 45-6 1/4.

The big disappointment of the final day came in the decathlon, where Auburn senior Maurice Smith did not finish the decathlon competition he was one of the favorites to win.

Maurice Smith throws the discus on Saturday.

"Coming into the national championship, my goal was two get a better mark in each event since Texas Relays is where I scored 8,024 points," Smith said. "The first day I was doing well going into the final event. I cramped during the 400-meters and I lost points because of that

"Last night I was not sure I would compete today. I was in a lot of pain, but the trainers did a good job of getting me back into competition mode. After the first day I knew I had three strong events today."

Smith opened day two of the decathlon by winning his heat in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.47 and followed that with the best discus toss of any competitor at 159 feet. He had moved up from fifth place to third place when he pulled out of the competition with three events remaining.

Hammer time: Colton Hodge had a day to remember on Saturday in Austin.

In contrast to Smith, junior Colton Hodge had plenty to be excited about as he set a personal record in the hammer, throwing in 212 feet, one inch to finish in seventh place and score two points for his team. His toss is three and a half feet off of Gabor Mate's school record.

The Tigers picked up another point in the field events as freshman Edis Elkasevic threw the shot put 62 feet, six inches to take eighth place.

The women's 4x400 relay team, which set a school record of 3:31.76 in the prelims, did not score as they were ninth in 3:32.45 with Treska Baptiste, Markita James, Josanne Lucas and Kareen Gayle carrying the baton.


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