Hammer Time for Tigers at SEC Track Meet

Auburn's track and field team performed well in day two of the SEC Track and Field Championships.

Auburn, Ala.--One Friday night title was expected and the other was a surprise for the Auburn Tigers at the SEC Track and Field Championships.

Auburn record holder Cory Martin, the top seed in the men's hammer competition, edged teammate and defending NCAA champion Jake Dunkleberger for first place.

Martin scored 10 points for the Tigers with his throw of 238 feet, 11 inches, which was his third SEC title in the event added to ones in 2005 and 2007. Dunkleberger scored eight points for the Tigers with his throw of 230 feet, six inches.

The third place throw was 17 feet behind Dunkleberger. The two All-American hammer throwers are the main reason Auburn is in first place with 21 points, two ahead of Arkansas, heading into Saturday and Sunday's competition that will feature most of the points to be awarded.

What happened in the women's competition could be labeled as a pleasant surprise as Auburn's Valentina Srsa, won her first SEC title and set a school record in the process.

The sophomore's throw of 196 feet, 11 inches sailed well past her season best toss of 188 feet, five inches. Shanna Dickenson of Tennessee was second with a throw of 194 feet, three inches.

"We got a surprise there with Valentina coming into the meet ranked fourth," says Clayton, who coaches the throws for the Tigers. "She has been looking good in training so I felt she was capable of throwing in that range.

"Of course the guys have been here enough times that after the first round I didn't think anybody was going to touch them," Clayton adds.

In the women's competition, Auburn is tied for third with Mississippi State with 15 points behind Florida (26) and Kentucky.

Auburn head coach Ralph Spry told Inside the Auburn Tigers that he liked what he saw on Friday. "It was really enjoyable to watch Valentina Sra win because she has had some knee surgeries and has really been struggling trying to get healthy, but she never quit.

"I know Coach (Jerry) Clayton is really pleased with it," Spry adds. "Valentina broke the school record and it is the first time we have ever had an SEC champion in the women's hammer throw.

"In the men's hammer, Cory and Jake going one-two is what we needed," Spry says. "If we are going to win this meet, those kind of things are going to have to happen. We knew they could do it, but until they do it you can't count it."

Cory Martin throws the hammer for the Tigers. He now has won six individual SEC titles and will go for more this weekend in the discus and shot put.

The evening's competition wrapped up with the 10,000-meter races and the conditions were idea with temperatures in the high 50s on an unseasonably cool night.

Auburn freshman Hollie Knight finished fourth in the women's 10,000 finals with a time of 34:59.18 after hanging with the lead pack of four runners for most of the race. It was the fastest time in the event ever for an AU freshman, breaking Knight's own mark of 34:59.18 set at the Penn Relays.

In the men's 10,000 race, freshman Jean-Pierre Weerts scored three points for the Tigers with a time of 29:55.84, which ranks him ninth in school history. He will also compete in the 5,000 this weekend.

Also on Friday, Auburn All-American Reuben McCoy won his heat to advance to the finals of the 400 meter hurdles. In the women's 400 meter hurdles, Danielle Gilchrist ran a 59.46, the second fastest qualifying, just ahead of teammate Amelia Anderson who was third with a time of 59.83.

Saturday's running events will start at 6 p.m. with field events starting at 12:30 p.m. at the Hutsell-Rosen Track and Field.


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