LEXINGTON, Ky. – Stepping into the circle as the defending SEC Champion in the men’s discus throw, junior Rodney Brown earned All-SEC honors in the event for the second year in a row with a bronze-medal-winning performance to put the Tigers on the scoreboard during Saturday’s action at the 2014 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Brown put up a strong defense of his conference title as he led the competition into the final after throwing a series-best of 200 feet, 4 inches in the second round of qualifying.
But Brown was bumped to second when Kentucky’s national leader Andrew Evans took the lead with a throw of 201-0 in the third round before extending his lead with his throw of 210-3 in the fifth round that held up for the victory. Alabama’s Hayden Reed finished as this year’s SEC Outdoor silver medalist when he also surpassed Brown with a throw of 209-1 in the sixth and final round.
Brown’s third-place finish puts the first six points on the scoreboard for the Tigers as they will now have 23 more chances to score points during Sunday’s finale at the Kentucky Outdoor Track & Field Facility.
Brown, who owns a seasonal best of 210-10 this season as the NCAA’s No. 4-ranked discus thrower in 2014, has now eclipsed the 200-foot mark in six of his last seven appearances in the discus as he is poised to secure All-America honors for the second-straight season as one of the NCAA’s leading performers. He will now turn his attention to the shot put as he steps into the ring again on Sunday afternoon.
“I felt pretty good today, but everything was going out of the right side of the sector. It’s been a bit of a problem I’ve had for much of the season,” Brown said. “I knew it (200 feet) wasn’t going to be good enough with this field. This is as good a field in this event as we’ve probably ever had in the SEC, so I knew I would have to improve in the final to defend my title. Maybe I was pressing a little bit. I felt like I could do it, but it just didn’t happen for me today. I’m looking forward to getting back to training and preparing for nationals.”
Tiger freshman Jeremy Octeau joined Brown in the men’s discus competition, and opened with a personal-best throw of 168-1 on his first attempt that earned him a 14th-place finish in the final event standings.
Wales, who had thrown a seasonal best and personal best of 166 feet, 11 inches, nearly matched her career long with a series-best throw of 164-10 in the second round that held up for a fourth-place finish in her first SEC Outdoor Championships. Cook nearly matched her own personal best in the event with a top throw of the day at 156-5 in the fourth round that moved her from ninth place into sixth place in the event.
The Florida Gators swept the top two spots in the women’s javelin throw as Fawn Miller took the title with the top throw in the field of 187-4 and Marija Vucenovic followed in second place with a toss of 178-10. Wales followed Georgia’s defending champion Freya Jones by just under five feet as Jones won the bronze medal with a throw of 169-8.
Rounding out the scoring in the women’s javelin were Missouri’s Hailey Twietmeyer (160-8) in fifth place, Arkansas’ Amethyst Boyd (154-7) in seventh place and Texas A&M’s Kendall Munoz (152-0) in eighth place.
The Lady Tigers then quickly added seven more points to their team score in the long jump when senior Keri Emanuel claimed a fifth-place finish and freshman Nataliyah Friar earned a sixth-place finish with the second final of the day. Emanuel soared to an impressive wind-legal mark of 20-6 ¼ (+0.0) in the third round of qualifying to lock up a Top 5 finish, while Friar opened with her best jump of the event with a windy leap of 20-3 ¼ (+4.1) that held up for a sixth-place finish in her first SEC Outdoor appearance.
Senior Lynnika Pitts jumped a wind-legal personal best of 19-5 ½ (+1.4) on her third attempt that won the first of three flights and earned her a 13th-place finish overall in the women’s long jump. Pitts then moved over to the high jump competition where she scored 0.5 points by tying for eighth place overall with a clearance of the bar at 5-7 ¾.
Mississippi State’s Rochelle Farquharson was the only jumper in the field to eclipse the 21-foot mark on a blustery Saturday afternoon as she won the SEC Outdoor long jump title by jumping 21-2 ½ in the fourth round.
Florida’s Robin Reynolds (20-10 ½) and Georgia’s Chanice Porter (20-9 ¼) rounded out the long jump medalists, while other scorers in the field included Arkansas’ Tamara Myers (20-7 ¾) in fourth place, South Carolina’s Alexis Murphy (20-0 ¼) in seventh place and Texas A&M’s Jennifer Madu (19-9 ½) in eighth place in the final standings.
Junior All-America hopeful Tori Bliss wrapped up the scoring for the Lady Tigers on Saturday afternoon with a fifth-place finish in the women’s shot put as she threw a best of 53-1 on the day for four points in the event final. Missouri’s duo of Jill Rushin (56-4 ¾) Kearsten Peoples (56-4) took home the gold and silver medals in the event, while Auburn’s Valentina Muzaric (55-1) bagged the bronze medal in the shot put.
“Both of our teams have really had a great meet to this point. It’s now down to one final track meet in itself tomorrow as we end another SEC Championships,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “I thought we fought for every point today. I’m really proud of the way our athletes competed. The SEC is just so deep across the board that it took some great performances to score the points we did today.”
After qualifying for the 200-meter final with a heat-winning run of 20.80 seconds on Friday night, junior Aaron Ernest returned to the track on Saturday and turned in another heat-winning performance as he raced to a win in the second of three preliminary heats with the fastest time of the day at 10.17w (+2.1) to earn a spot in his second SEC final to run on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers were also a perfect 3-for-3 in 400-meter qualifying during Saturday’s action as they were led by junior All-American Vernon Norwood, who won the third heat with the second-fastest time of the day with an effort of 45.99. Fellow junior Quincy Downing followed with a win in the fourth preliminary heat after running 46.65, while sophomore Cyril Grayson clocked a personal best of 46.49 to take second place in the first heat and advance to his first career SEC final in the 400 meters.
Also running a personal best to earn a spot in his first career SEC final was sophomore Joshua Lamers, who crossed the finish line in fourth place in the third qualifying heat of the men’s 110-meter hurdles with a time at 13.95 (+1.8) to advance to the final as an at-large qualifier on time. Lamers’ personal best of 13.95 was the eighth-fastest time of the day.
While the Tigers were a perfect 3-for-3 in qualifying in the 400 meters, each of the three Lady Tigers who lined up in Saturday’s qualifying round of the 100-meter hurdles also earned their spot in Sunday’s finale.
Senior All-American and national championship contender Jasmin Stowers was the first to step onto the track, and she took the tape in the first qualifying heat with a time of 12.99 (+0.7) for third-fastest run of the day in the event. Junior Chanice Chase followed by running a personal best of 13.37 (+2.0) and junior Mariah Georgetown ran 13.40 (+2.0) to grab the last two qualifying spots in the 100-meter hurdles.
LSU’s teams have an opportunity to pile up the points during Sunday’s finale at the 2014 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships as the Tigers have 23 scoring chances and the Lady Tigers have 14 chances to score the points to add to their current total of 29.5 points through Saturday’s action at the UK Outdoor Track & Field Facility.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will prepare for an early start to the final day of competition as Sunday’s action kicks off at 10 a.m. CT with the first field events of the day followed by the first finals on the track at 1 p.m. CDT. This year’s SEC Outdoor team champions will be crowned in a special awards ceremony following the running of the 4x400-meter relays that will end at approximately 4:45 p.m.