Tigers in Contention at NCAA Championship

Sacramento, Calif.--The Auburn Tigers dropped one spot to third place, but are still in striking range of the leaders going into Saturday's final day of competition at the 2006 NCAA Track and Field Championships.

The fourth-ranked Auburn women's team finished competition on Friday night with 22 points, four behind co-leaders Texas and Nebraska.

The Tigers will have five women and one man competing in Saturday's finals and will have a chance to make a run at the women's national title. Through Friday night's competition, nine of the 21 events have been completed.

"Right now I'm real excited, but I'm not going to get too excited because there is a lot of track and field left to go," said Auburn head coach Ralph Spry. "I feel good about the way things are going and I don't think that will change (Saturday) because these girls have been consistent all year long.

"The great thing about it is that we control our own destiny," Spry added. "If we go out and do our job, things will take care of themselves."

The Tigers feature a pair of top-seeded runners for Saturday's finals, which will be televised nationally by CBS from 2:30-5 p.m. CDT.

In Friday's competition, senior Josanne Lucas took fifth place in the 100 hurdles, her secondary event, and will compete in the 400 hurdles final on Saturday. Her teammate, Markita James, is the top seed in the 400 hurdles.

Lucas turned in a time of 13:02 in the 100 hurdles, just .04 off her personal-best. "I wanted to run a faster time, but most importantly I put points on the board for the team," Lucas said. "Hopefully, it will add up at the end of the meet. I'm happy that I finished healthy, but I would have preferred to put up a faster time." She has the fourth fastest qualifying time in the 400 hurdles.

Josanne Lucas races in the the high hurdles event on Friday in Sacramento.

On Saturday, the Tigers will be counting on points from junior Kerron Stewart, who is ranked first in the 100 meters and is a threat to score in the 200, too.

Stewart helped AU's 4x100 relay team to a fourth place finish in a time of 43.46 on Friday. She was joined by Tamara Thomas, Jovanee Jarrett and James. Jarrett scored 10 of AU's points on Thursday with a win the long jump.

Michelle Vaughn will compete in the triple jump finals on Saturday after qualifying fourth in that event on Friday.

"Our main thing that we told our kids this week was to take care of things each day and each event, and not to look forward," Spry said. "By doing that, we've really put ourselves in a great position."

James won the first heat in 54.89 seconds, which was the fastest time of the day while Lucas ran her personal best time of 55.44 to qualify for the Saturday finals.

In the 200, Stewart ran a personal-best 22.77 to qualify third for Saturday's final. She will be joined in the finals by Thomas, a surprise qualifier with a season-best time of 23.28.

"The 200 really put us where we needed to be with Kerron running well and Tamara sneaking into the finals," Spry said. "Michelle Vaughn was also tremendous for us. She was not supposed to score in the triple jump on paper, but put up the sixth-best mark going into the finals."

Vaughn qualified for Saturday's finals on her final triple jump, a leap of 42 feet, 11 1/2 inches.

For the men's team, sophomore 400 hurdler Reuben McCoy was the only competitor. He advanced to the finals with a time of 49.66.

Also on Friday, Katalin Mate was 11th in the discus and out of the scoring with a toss of 157 feet, two inches and Michelle Williamson went 5-8 1/2 to tie for 12th in the high jump.

NCAA Track and Field Results

2006 Inside the Auburn Tigers Auburn Football Guide

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