AUBURN, Ala. -- The first day of open competition at the SEC Outdoor Championships will never determine which team will take home the title, but it can certainly put a squad in position to hoist the championship trophy in celebration following Sunday’s action.
The LSU track and field teams certainly put themselves in a position to do just that by qualifying a total of 11 athletes into Sunday’s finals of the 200 meters and 800 meters during Friday’s action at Hutsell-Rosen Track on the campus of Auburn University.
The defending SEC champion Lady Tigers qualified seven athletes with Kelly Baptiste (23.52), Samantha Henry (23.80), Juanita Broaddus (23.89) and Brooklynn Morris (23.93) locking up four of the nine spots in the final of the 200 meters.
Three Lady Tigers also qualified for the final of the 800-meter run with defending SEC champion LaTavia Thomas leading the way with a qualifying time of 2 minutes, 6.12 seconds. She will be joined in the final by junior Kayann Thompson (2:07.52) and freshman Brittany Hall (2:07.52).
Senior Richard Thompson led a group of four Tigers advancing to Sunday’s final-round action by clocking the fastest preliminary time in the 200 meters with a new personal best of 20.75 seconds.
Thompson will be joined in the final of the 200 meters by freshman Gabriel Mvumvure, who was ninth in the prelim with a time of 21.30 in just his second 200-meter race of the season. Two Tigers also qualified automatically for the final of the 800 meters by winning their heats as senior Elkana Kosgei (1:48.92) and sophomore Jamaal James (1:50.09) advanced to Sunday’s action.
“Today was important day for both of our teams if we hoped to be in contention for the team title on Sunday,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “You can never win the track meet on a day like today, but you can certainly put yourself in a good position come Sunday. Overall, I thought our athletes competed very well in the things we had control over. They advanced very well.”
Williams was the first to step into the hammer circle and unleashed a nearly 10-foot personal best with an impressive mark of 194 feet, 2 inches to finish fourth in the event and score five big points for the Lady Tigers. Williams improved upon her seasonal best and personal best mark of 184-5 coming into the meet with the third-longest throw in school history.
Fox followed with an outstanding performance of his own as he uncorked a near personal best of 213-1 to finish in third place and score six points for the Tigers. This marks Fox’s best career performance at the SEC Championships, despite earning all-conference honors as a sophomore in 2006 with a second-place effort of 198-11.
Fox finished behind only the No. 1 and No. 2 performers in the NCAA as Auburn’s Cory Martin and Jake Dunkleburger swept the top two spots with marks of 238-11 and 230-6, respectively.
“What else can you say about Kim and her performance today,” Shaver said. “That was a near 10-foot PR for her, and you can’t ask for anything more than that in this type of competition. I’m also proud of Rabun and his performance. This is probably the deepest conference in the country for the hammer throw, and to come in and finish third at the SEC Championships is big.
“They certainly got us off on the right foot with their performance today, and those are valuable points that will put us in a position to contend on Sunday.”
The evening was not without its share of controversy as junior Nickiesha Wilson, who entered the meet as the SEC’s top performer in the 400-meter hurdles, was disqualified from her preliminary heat as she was told by the start team that she came up in the set position too slow as the gun fired after being given the set command.
Wilson, who said she was unable to hear the start team give the set command through the speaker from her position in Lane 3, was then disqualified without warning from the officials.
“I thought it was a poor judgment call by the start group to disqualify Nickiesha from the race,” Shaver said. “She wasn’t doing anything intentional in that case, and I’m disappointed that they ruled the way they did. It’s very unfortunate for the athlete to be put in that kind of a situation in a meet like this, and they should have warned her if she was doing anything wrong.
“In my experience, the start group has always tried to help the athletes perform at their very best. I thought they should have given her a warning in this case as it states in the rule book.”
The action continues for the Tigers and Lady Tigers on Saturday as they are set to compete in five finals in the field beginning with the women’s javelin competition at 12:30 p.m. CDT. Saturday also marks another crucial day of preliminary qualifying on the track for both teams with the first event scheduled to run at 6 p.m.
SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships Results
Friday at Hutsell-Rosen Track in Auburn, Ala. (All race distances in meters)
1. Tyson David, Alabama, 28:23.01; 2. Shawn Forrest, Arkansas, 28:24.44; 3. James Strang, Arkansas, 28:31.33; 4. Peter Kosgei, Arkansas, 29:25.14; 5. Augustus Maiyo, Alabama, 29:44.25; 6. Jean-Pierre Weerts, Auburn, 29:55.84; 7. Joseph Simuchimba, LSU, 30:02.74; 8. Andrew Kirwa, Alabama, 30:05.65.
1. Cory Martin, Auburn, 238-11; 2. Jake Dunkleburger, Auburn, 230-6; 3. Rabun Fox, LSU, 213-1; 4. Andy Fryman, Kentucky, 212-6; 5. John Freeman, Georgia, 209-1; 6. Nate Rolfe, Georgia, 207-4; 7. Richard Wooten, Tennessee, 205-8; 8. Mike Zajac, South Carolina, 198-7.
1. Jangy Addy, Tennessee, 8,010; 2. Steffan Hommel, Florida, 7,450; 3. Michael Ayers, Tennessee, 7,360; 4. Tommy Barrineau, Georgia, 7,142; 5. Kurt Lee, Florida, 6,869; 6. Joseph Queen, Mississippi State, 6,775; 7. Daryl Brady, Mississippi State, 6,651; 8. Martin Lee, Mississippi State, 6,641.
TEAM STANDINGS (3 events scored)
1. Auburn, 21; 2. Arkansas, 19; 3. Tennessee, 18; 4. Alabama, 15; t5. Florida, 12; t5. Georgia, 12; 7. LSU, 8; 8. Mississippi State, 6; 9. Kentucky, 5; 10. South Carolina, 1.
1. Rebecca Lowe, Florida, 34:13.07; 2. Betty Rotich, Alabama, 34:26.08; 3. Denise Bargiachi, Arkansas, 34:30.99; 4. Hollie Knight, Auburn, 34:42.48; 5. Miranda Walker, Arkansas, 35:13.26; 6. Jacy Kruzel, Florida, 35:20.26; 7. Sara Petrick, Florida, 35:33.72; 8. Ali Crabb, Florida, 35:37.76.
1. Valentina Srsa, Auburn, 196-11; 2. Shanna Dickenson, Tennessee, 194-3; 3. Shawneise Williams, Florida, 194-3; 4. Kim Williams, LSU, 194-2; 5. Chinelo Ubaka, Florida, 192-1; 6. Kristin Smith, Kentucky, 191-1; 7. Davina Orieukwu, Ole Miss, 173-8; 8. Michelle Rossio, Arkansas, 169-9.
1. Marrissa Harris, Mississippi State, 5,600; 2. Danielle Sampley, Kentucky, 5,377; 3. Ashley Trimble, Kentucky, 5,295; 4. Laquinta Aaron, Mississippi State, 5,174; 5. Peter-Gaye Beckford, Arkansas, 4,990; 6. Kettiany Clarke, South Carolina, 4,967; 7. Cherice Robertson, Vanderbilt, 4,854; 8. Ashley Newby, Kentucky, 4,784.
TEAM STANDINGS (3 events scored)
1. Florida, 26; 2. Kentucky, 18; t3. Mississippi State, 15; t3. Auburn, 15; t3. Arkansas, 15; t6. Alabama, 8; t6. Tennessee, 8; 8. LSU, 5; 9. South Carolina, 3; t10. Ole Miss, 2; t10. Vanderbilt, 2.