Tigers Qualify Top Performers for NCAA Meet

Sophomore Cory Martin had a big weekend back home in Indiana and his Auburn teammates had a successful regional meet, too.

Bloomington, Ind.--Auburn advanced its top athletes into next month's NCAA Track and Field Championships with a variety of strong performances at the NCAA Mideast Regional on the Indiana University campus.

Auburn didn't win any events on day two after sophomore Edis Elkasevic won the shot put and discus on Friday, but the Tigers finished second in a variety of events. The men's team finished second in the team scoring to Arkansas.

However, the most important part of the regional meet is to qualify competitors for the nationals and three relay teams are going to Sacramento, Calif., June 8-11 for the NCAA Championships and 10 individual qualified for the national meet in a total of 12 events.

Cory Martin put on a show in his hometown on Saturday. The sophomore from Bloomington High was a standout in day two as he set a new Auburn record in the hammer with a toss of 216 feet, five inches. He finished second, three inches behind Garland Porter of Tennessee.

Cory Martin came to Auburn from Bloomington High School.

On Friday night, Martin qualified for nationals with a fourth place toss of 61 feet, 10 1/4 inches in the shot put. All things considered, it was a productive two days of competition back home in Indiana.

The Auburn men's and women's metric mile relay teams (4x400) took second place finishes. The top three relay teams from each of the three regional meets go to nationals along with the top five competitors in individual events.

Olympian Sherridan Kirk took second place in the 800 meters with a time of 1:48.91. He finished 12 hundredths of a second off the pace set by Andrew Ellerton of Michigan, who made a late push to overtake the Auburn senior.

Junior Josanne Lucas also finished second, running a 57.49 in the women's 400-meter hurdles. She just edged Doria Appleby of Louisiana Tech by less than a hundreth of a second and finished behind Camile Robinson of Southern Illinois who ran a 57.44.

"Our key people stepped up," Auburn coach Ralph Spry said. "We had standout performances by several athletes. Overall we competed well in the toughest region. This meet should follow up with a good one in two weeks at the national championship."

The women's 4x400 relay team finished second and scored eight points with a time of 3:31.81, just off the pace set by Tennessee (3:31.27). Juniors Kareen Gayle, Markita James and Lucas ran the first three legs with another junior, Tamara Thomas, running the final 400 meters. Their time was the fourth fastest in school history and best of the season.

The men's 4x400 relay matched the women's second place finish with eight points in the event. The quartet of freshman Reuben McCoy, freshman Ty Akins, Kirk and senior Damion Barry ran a 3:03.58 to finish behind LSU, which ran a 3:03.30. Barry was a very strong anchor, running a 44.51 split to help the team post its best time of the season.

The Tigers scored six points in the women's 4x100 relay with a third place finish behind Tennessee (43.74) and LSU (44.01). Auburn's team of Thomas, senior Daniele Browning, junior Jovanee Jarrett and senior Fana Ashby ran a time of 44.14.

The women's team finished sixth in the region with 39 points, one ahead of Alabama. Tennessee was the top point producer in the women's competition with 82 and was followed by LSU (61), Michigan (42.5) and Arkansas (40).

The men's team scored 58 points. Arkansas finished first with 94.5 points, LSU was third with 50 and the Wisconsin Bagders scored 49 for fourth.

Martin broke his personal record by more than a foot and half on his first toss on Saturday in the hammer, breaking the AU mark set in 2003 by Gabor Mate.

"We came in here with two goals," said Jerry Clayton, who coaches the Auburn throwers. "Our first goal was to make the top five to get to nationals and the second was to finish as high as we could. I think we accomplished both goals.

"It is just unfortunate that he didn't win, but I think this will give him more motivation at nationals in two weeks," the assistant coach added. "He threw a big PR and finished only three inches behind the winner so you really can be disappointed with that kind of performance."

Others who qualified for the nationals include:

* Markita James was fifth (58.23) in the women's 400 hurdles.

*McCoy ran a personal best time of 50.02 to finish fourth in the men's 400 hurdles. Micheal Tinsley of Jackson State set the pace at 49.05.

*Jarrett was third in the long jump with a season-best of 21 feet, 3 1/4 inches.'

In the men's 400 meters, Berry qualified for the NCAA meet with a fifth place time of 45.84. Miles Smith of Southeast Missouri won the event in 45.16.

In the women's 100 meters, Ashby qualified for the nationals with a fifth place. She ran a time of 11.56 in the finals. Freshman Kelly Baptiste of LSU won the race in 11:26.

*Junior Angela Homan had previously qualified in the 10,000 meters, which wasn't contested at the regional. The SEC cross country champion ran the 5,000 in Bloomington and finished seventh.

*On Friday, Elkasevic won the shot put for 10 points and the discus for 10 more. He is the favorite for the NCCA meet in the shot put. The Olympian threw the shot 66 feet, 11 1/2 inches in the rain and posted a mark of 188 feet, five inches in the discus.

Although he didn't move on to the nationals, senior Michael Cobb had a personal best in the hammer, throwing 199 feet, six inches, which was 11th place. Senior Colton Hodge injured his ankle and threw 186 feet, seven inches in his final meet.

Senior Danielle Browning made the finals of the women's 100 meters, but didn't advance when she false started and disqualified from the race.

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