"I feel like I got us jump-started for the championship," says senior Jovanee Jarrett, whose surprise win in the long jump on Thursday really gave Coach Ralph Spry's fourth-ranked Tigers a major boost.
Spry said going into the meet the Tigers would have a chance to win the title, but everything would have to fall into place like clockwork.
"This is just a great, great feeling to win with this team," Jarrett says. "I am so overjoyed. We are very close. We knew back when the season started we could do this. It's not a surprise to the members of this team that we could be the champions."
Markita James, another senior, helped spark the victory by winning the 400-meter hurdles on Saturday while another senior, Josanne Lucas, finished in second place. That race gave the Tigers 18 points--10 for first place, eight for second.
Markita James (left) wins the 400 hurdles while teammate Josanne Lucas adds eight points for second place.
James ran a time of 54.47 for the win while Lucas was next with her 55.29.
The Tigers got 16 points from another world class senior, Kerron Stewart, who finished second in the 100, which wasn't unexpected, but she surprised the field with a second in the 200, too.
Stewart's 100 meters time was 11.36 running into the wind. That was .02 behind Amberly Nesbitt of South Carolina.
In the 200, she ran a 22.65, finishing second to Shalonda Solomon of South Carolina.
Ralph Spry and the Tigers have a significant piece of hardware to bring home to Auburn.
Auburn's best finish before Saturday in track was a second at the 2003 outdoor meet and second places indoors in 1978, 1997 and 2003.
Previously, the men's team finished second at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships and at the 1978, 1997 and 2003 "It's a sweet, sweet feeling," coach Ralph Spry says. "It's a hard meet to win. A lot of things have to happen for you to win it. But our girls have been consistent all year long. I knew if we came in and did what we've done all year long, we could put up the numbers to give us a shot at being a factor here. It's real exciting."
For the men's team, sophomore Reuben McCoy finished fourth in the hurdles with a time of 49.22, a personal-record that earned him All-America honors. Those were the only points for Auburn's men in the meet with Spry deciding to redshirt his top potential scorers to make a run at the men's title in 2008. AU finished 40th in the men's competition, which was won by FSU with 67 points while LSU was next with 51.
The national championship for the women's team is the fourth of the season for the Tigers joining the men's and women's swimming teams and the women's equestrian team.
Michelle Williamson scored for the Tigers on Saturday with an eighth place in the triple jump with a leap for 43-2 1/4.