Coach Spry's "Dream Team" Makes AU History

Auburn, Ala.--After an extremely close call with the men's team team in 2003 when the Tigers finished as the national runnerup, Coach Ralph Spry has ample reasons to savor the first track and field championship in Auburn University history.

On Saturday the Tigers pulled away from the field for a surprisingly lopsided victory for the AU women's team, which came into the meet ranked fourth nationally.

When the final score was tallied, the Tigers were on top with 57 points after entering the day in third place. However, after the 21st and final event, no other team had more than 38 1/2 points (Southern Cal). South Carolina was third with 38, Arizona State and Nebraska were tied with 37 and Texas was sixth with 36.

On Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Toomer's Corner, Auburn will salute the Tigers with a "Celebration of Champions" ceremony.

"I am really pleased for the members of our women's team, especially the seniors," Spry says. "They have been a coach's dream to work with this year. They have worked hard and are so much fun to be around. It is unbelievable how supportive they are of each other."

Prior to the competition, Spry says the goal was to bring home one of the trophies that are awarded to the teams that finish in the top four. In the history of the women's program, which began competition in 1979, AU's highest NCAA outdoor finish was 14th in 2003, Spry's sixth season as head coach of the men's and women's teams.

His 2003 men's squad only needed a first place from NCAA discus record holder Gabor Mate to win the title, but the defending champion didn't score in the event and the Tigers had to settle for second, which is the highest finish for the Tigers at the outdoor nationals going back to Auburn's start of competition in 1922.

"Our team this year has great leadership and I feel blessed as a coach to be around this group," Spry says.

Kerron Stewart races to second place in the 100 meters. The junior also took second in the 200 to personally score 16 points for the Tigers on the final day of competition.

The coach notes that 14 early points in the competition for senior Jovanee Jarrett's unexpected victory in the long jump and a good showing by senior Angela Homan in the 10,000 were the catalysts that put the Tigers in great shape to win the title.

"It was really a great meet for our team," Spry says. "Everybody stepped up and performed well. Even the athletes who didn't score for us there came through with strong performances. I don't think I have ever had a team perform any better."

2006 Inside the Auburn Tigers Auburn Football Guide

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