Tigers Have Strong Opening at NCAA Regional

Knoxville, Tenn.--Auburn athletes advanced to the finals of 11 events at the NCAA Mideast Regional Track and Field Championships and one has already qualified for the national championship competition.

"On the women's side, everything that we needed to happen today happened," said Auburn coach Ralph Spry. "Josanne (Lucas) and Markita (James) made it through in their hurdle races, Kerron (Stewart) looked great in both sprints and Jovanee Jarrett finished third in the long jump. I think we're right where we need to be."

"For the men, we didn't bring a lot of firepower, but Reuben (McCoy) looked great, Ty (Akins) and Shamar (Sands) both made the finals of the 110 hurdles and Jordan Davis looked good."

Jarrett finished third in the long jump to advance to the NCAA Championships June 7-10 in Sacramento, Calif., with a leap of 20 feet, 10 inches.

James, a senior from Smiths Station, set a new Mideast Regional record while qualifying for Saturday's finals of the 400-meter hurdles, racing to a time of 56.25 seconds. She has the AU school record of 55.40.

"Going in, I felt good," James said. "I felt strong. It was a little windy, but I stayed focused. I did everything my coach said. I've got faith in him, and it really paid off. I'm excited and looking forward to tomorrow. My race strategy will be the same--go out hard on the first three hurdles, then relax on the back stretch and bring it home."

Lucas qualified for the finals in both hurdles events. In the 100 hurdles, she hit the second hurdle and fell behind, but recovered to win her heat with a time of 13.22. In the 400 hurdles, Lucas won her heat with a time of 56.81 seconds, which was the third-best mark in the prelims.

Stewart qualified in the 100 meters with a time of 11.18 and in the 200 in a personal record time of 22.84.

Tamara Thomas moved to the 200 finals in a time of 23.52, which ties her personal best.

The women's 4x100m relay team of Thomas, Jarrett, James and Stewart also advanced to tomorrow's final by winning its heat with a time of 44.37 seconds.

For the men's team, Akins ran a wind-aided 13.64 seconds while qualifying for the finals of the 110-meter hurdles. His time was faster than the Auburn record of 13.67 set in 1977 by James Walker and tied in 1980 by Gene Miller, but the tailwind of 2.9 meters per second was over the legal limit of +2.0, nullifying the record. Shamar Sands earned the last qualifying spot in the finals with a mark of 13.72, which was also wind-aided.

McCoy won his heat in the 400 hurdles in 51.33 as the sophomore looks to make a return trip to the nationals.

In the 1500, Davis moved to the finals by posting a time a 3:48.83.

Michelle Williamson just missed earning an automatic qualifying spot at the NCAA championships in the finals of the women's high jump, tying for sixth place with a leap of 5-9 1/4. Katalin Mate finished 16th in the javelin with a mark of 133-0, 17 feet shorter than her season's best toss.

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