Thurmond Wins Title At SEC Track Meet

A discus thrower is the top performer for the Tigers on the final day of the SEC Track and Field Championships.

Starkville, Miss.--The Auburn women's team finished fifth while the men were eighth at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships that wrapped up on Sunday at Mississippi State.

A win by Reedus Thurmond in the discus was the highlight of the final day for Auburn.

Thurmond got his day on the victory stand after playing second fiddle to teammate Gabor Mate, the Olympian who has won the event the past three seasons. Mate is redshirting this season and will return next spring as a senior.

Thurmond's winning toss was 190 feet, seven inches. "I feel really good about my performance," he says. "I did not throw as good as I had hoped, but it was good enough to win. I am looking forward to getting back to practice and prepare for NCAAs. Hopefully, I can carry this momentum and do something great at LSU (NCAA meet)."

SEC champion Reedus Thurmond

Thurmond, a Californian who has his sights set on throwing the discus for the Unites States team at the 2004 Olympic Games, has made an impressive comeback after suffering a broken bone in his leg last season.

"I don't think I am anywhere near my limit," the two-time All-American says. "If I can get my strength levels up, I can go a lot farther than where I am now. I will be there (at the Olympics) in 2004. That is a guarantee."

The men's team scored 50 points in Starkville. Tennessee won the championship with 147 points. Arkansas finished second with 133 points and was followed by Florida (107).

The Auburn women's team scored 88 points. AU was third going into the final day before dropping back. South Carolina finished first with 148 points, Arkansas was next with 138, Florida was third with 133 and LSU finished one spot ahead of Auburn with 114 points.

A distance race was the top event for the women's team on Sunday. The Tigers took second, third and fourth in the 5000 meters as Alexis Hamblet ran 17:07.12, Erica Braswell 17:10.40 and Catherine Wanyoike was fourth in 17:13.44.

Coach Ralph Spry

"I am extremely proud of both of the teams," AU coach Ralph Spry says. "We really matured as a team this weekend. All of the women's teams that finished ahead of us are ranked among the nation's best, but I feel that we are definitely closing the gap."

Auburn's 4x100-meter relay team of Camica White, Elva Goulbourne, Timicka Clarke and Natalee Sterling finished fourth with a time of 44.44. Goulbourne, who won the long jump on Saturday, finished fifth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.04.

The men's 4x400-meter relay team of Dean Griffiths, Fred Sharpe, Sanjay Ayre and Shameron Turner finished third in a time of 3:05.03. Sharpe (50.06) was fourth in the 400 hurdles and Ayre finished fourth in the 400 dash in 45.35.

The Tigers will compete at the NCAA Championships May 29-June 1 at LSU.

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