AU Track Team Just Misses SEC Title

Fayetteville, Ark.--Winning five events, the Auburn women's track team had its most impressive showing ever at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, but came up one point shy of winning the league title.

Georgia, which scored, 136 points, held off a late charge by the Tigers, who also finished second at the SEC Indoor meet.

South Carolina took third with 86.5 points and was followed by LSU with 81 and Tennessee with 78.

The highlight for the Tigers was the performance of junior Kerron Stewart, who became the fastest woman sprinter in school history with a time of 11.01 in the 100 meters.

Stewart's time breaks the Auburn record of 11.12 set by Fana Ashby in 2004 and is the fastest in the world this year. Stewart also set the SEC meet record, breaking the old mark of of 11:05 set by Debbie Ferguson of Georgia in 1999

Kerron Stewart

Stewart finished second in the 200 with a personal-best time of 22.85, which is the second fastest in school history and eighth fastest in the world this year. Shalonda Solomon of South Carolina ran a time of 22.36 for the win.

Auburn trailed 111-46 with 11 events remaining on Sunday, but the Bulldogs clinched the title with a one-two finish in the triple jump the Tigers couldn't overcome despite a 5,000-meter run win by senior star Angela Homan, who won the 10,000 on Friday, plus a victory in the 4x400 relay. Homan won the 5,000 race with a time of 16:28.57.

The Tigers set a school record for most points scored in an outdoor SEC meet. The old mark was 102 in 1997 when they finished fourth. AU's previous best outdoor women's SEC finish was a third place in 1996.

The men's team, which has redshirted many of its top performers, was not expected to challenge for the title and that was the case. AU finished in ninth place with 31 points. Sophomore Reuben McCoy was AU's only winner, taking the title in the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 50:15.

Tennessee led the men's competition until late in the meet when host Arkansas rallied to win with 137.5 points to 126.5 for the Vols. Florida finished third with 110, one ahead of LSU. South Carolina took fifth with 77 points.

After 11 events, Auburn trailed the Georgia women 111-46 before making a charge. AU cut the lead to 113-104, but Georgia got 18 key points with a one-two finish in the triple jump and AU couldn't overcome that margin.

The Tigers had strong performances from sprinters Stewart, Markita James and Josanne Lucas. Stewart and Lucas both had first and second place finishes in individual events while James had a first and fourth place finish. Stewart and James ran on a the winning 4x400 relay and the fourth-place 4x100 relay while Lucas was on the 4x400 relay.

Lucas won the SEC title with a personal-best time of 12.98 (wind-aided) seconds. Lucas became just the second Auburn Tiger to win the women's 100 hurdles, joining Lacena Golding in 1998.

One hour after running the third leg on the 4x100 relay team, James finished fifth in the 400 with a time of 52.99 seconds. Just 65 minutes later, she became AU's first women's 400 hurdles SEC champ with a time of 56.44. Lucas was second in 57.66 and Jasmine Johnson finished fourth with a personal-best time of 59.96 seconds.

Tamara Thomas, Stewart, Lucas and James, who are ranked number two nationally in 4x400 relay, closed the meet with a winning time of 3:31.35.

In the women's triple jump, Auburn took third and fourth. Michelle Vaughn finished third with a personal-best jump of 42 feet 8 1/4 inch, which is the third best leap in school history. Jovanne Jarrett, who was runner-up in Saturday's long jump, finished fourth with a personal-best mark of 42-5.5.

In the women's javelin, Katalin Mate finished third with a mark of 149-11. The freshman also finished sixth in the shot put with a personal-best mark of 48-11 12.

The women's 4x100m relay of Thomas, Jarrett, James and Stewart finished fourth with a time of 44.59 seconds.

For the men's team, sophomore Jordan Davis had a personal-best in the 1500, finishing fourth with a regional qualifying time of 3:46.77.

Auburn scored seven points in the men's 110 hurdles as junior Shamar Sands finished fifth with a season-best time of 13.87 seconds while sophomore Ty Akins was sixth in 13:89.

Coach Ralph Spry

"I couldn't be more proud of the way this women's team responded this weekend," said Auburn head coach Ralph Spry. "They really showed a lot of character. Anybody associated with Auburn University would be extremely proud of the effort they have out here.

"We knew it was going to be a nail-biter," Spry added. "When you put your heart and soul into something and come up short, you really feel frustration.

"You can go through the whole competition and find so many places that we had a chance to get a point, but the bottom line is we missed by a point. But we matured, and grew a lot as a team this weekend.

"It hurts, but we've got bigger fish to fry with the NCAA Regionals and Championships, and with the group we have going to those meets they'll give us a great opportunity to do great down the stretch.

"We knew the men's team would not score a lot of points. I left 65 points at home with the people I decided to redshirt this season, and we had a couple of things go wrong this year, but I've got a plan for 2007 and 2008 that will put us right back where we want to be as a national power."

The Tigers will return to action May 26-27 at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in Knoxville, Tenn.

SEC Track Results

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