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    SEC Track and Field Weekly Notebook

    SEC Track and Field Weekly Notebook (January 16, 2013)

    Alabama

    More than 20 newcomers made their Alabama debuts for the Crimson Tide at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener at the Birmingham Crossplex on January 12. One of those new additions, Ken Taylor, was one of two Alabama athletes to win events at the meet. Taylor won the men’s 800 meters in a time of 1:52.94, beating out Florida's Ryan Schnulle (1:53.32) and Juan Sanchez of Mississippi State (1:53.77). Taylor, a transfer from Benedict College, was the 2012 NCAA Division II Men's Track Athlete of the Year for the South Region before joining the Tide. Senior high jumper Krystle Schade won the women’s high jump with a clearance of 6-0. Schade was an All-American in the event in 2012. Schade opened up with a miss at 5-7 (1.70m) before clearing that height, and clearing 5-8 3/4 (1.75m) and 5-10 3/4. She made her winning height on her third attempt at 6-0 to clinch the victory. In the women's weight throw, Alabama's Nia Barnes and Lee Stowers combined to produce personal-best efforts on four of their throws in the competition. Barnes ended up sixth with a best of 56 feet, 5 and 1/4 inches (17.20 meters) while Stowers was seventh with a best of 56-3 (17.14m). LSU's Denise Hinton won the event with a throw of 64-8 (19.71m). In the men's weight throw, Sweden native Elias Hakansson made his Crimson Tide debut and placed seventh with a best of 56-9 1/2 (17.31m). Tide teammate Charodd Richardson was ninth at 56-4 1/2 (17.18m).

    Arkansas

    Men - The top-ranked Razorback men beat Texas in their season-opening dual meet Friday at the Randal Tyson Track Center. Along with eight career-best performances, Arkansas had nine event wins and a winning score of 85-78 over the Longhorns. The Razorbacks’ multiple winners included Akheem Gauntlett, Raymond Higgs and Anton Kokorin. Among the efforts, Higgs posted an NCAA-leading performance in the long jump  of 7.95m/26-1 and moved into ninth place on the program’s top-10 list in the event. Arkansas also collected wins from Caleb Cross at 60 meters, Tomas Squella at 1,000 meters, Anthony May in the high jump and Andrew Irwin in the pole vault. The win over Texas was the Razorbacks’ fourth in a row in the indoor dual series. Arkansas returns to action next weekend with the Texas A&M Triangular in College Station, Texas. The Razorbacks will be joined at the one-day event by LSU and host Aggies. Women - The No. 7 Razorback women opened their season with an 81-61 dual win over Oklahoma State at the Randal Tyson Track Center. Arkansas collected nine event wins and was paced by multiple-winning efforts from Makeba Alcide, Gwendolyn Flowers, Ivanique Kemp and Tamara Myers. In a pair of standout field performances, Myers and newcomer Sandi Morris established the No. 2 marks in the NCAA in the triple jump (12.95m/42-6) and pole vault (4.25m/13-11.25), respectively. With her second win of the day, Flowers ran the second-fastest time in school history at 300 meters (38.49). In addition to their win in the 4x400-meter relay, the Razorbacks also picked up wins from Dominique Scott in the mile and Kirsten Hesseltine in the high jump. Arkansas returns to action next weekend with the Texas A&M Triangular in College Station, Texas. The Razorbacks will be joined at the one-day event by LSU and host Aggies.

    Auburn

    Auburn opened the 2013 season in fine fashion on Saturday in Birmingham … The Tigers brought home three event titles and witnessed a school freshman record fall at the Birmingham CrossPlex … The venue will also host Auburn’s home meet on January 19 … As usual Auburn had strong performance in the sprints, bringing home the event titles in both the men’s and women’s 60-meter races … Senior Marcus Rowland’s time of 6.64 seconds in the final is the fastest low-elevation mark in the world thus far in 2013 … It’s his fastest opening week run of his career and the third fastest mark overall in his career … His only faster career marks in the 60 meters have come in last chance and championship meets … Additionally, Kai Selvon brought home the title in the women’s 60 meters in 7.44 seconds … The third title came as part of a 1-2 finish by the Tigers in the men’s mile … Junior Niklas Buhner crossed the finish line first in 4:09.96, while teammate Francis Hernandez followed closely behind and set a new PR in his first indoor race for Auburn with a mark of 4:11.84 … In her first collegiate meet, freshman Larisa Debich broke a 16-year-old school freshman record in the women’s pole vault with her clearance at 12 feet, 1.5 inches (3.70m) … Her performance shattered the record of 11-9.75 previously held by Hannah Johnson since 1998 … The clearance is the second best indoor mark in Auburn history and the top pole vault performance by an Auburn female vaulter since 2004 … Also, Senior Spencer Ferguson improved his career-best mark in the men’s 200 meters with a run of 22.12 seconds … Junior Keenan Brock had the third-fastest 60m prelim time with his mark of 6.77 seconds, but did not run the final … Additionally, senior high jumper and former SEC champion Maya Pressley opened her final season with the Tigers with a clearance at 5-10.75 (1.80m) … She finished third in the event, while her mark is the highest opening week mark of her illustrious career … The Tigers host this weekend in Birmingham and are off January 26 before heading to Nebraska on February 1-2.

    Florida

    The Gator track & field teams opened up 2013 on a strong note, turning in 17 top-three finishes and six event victories at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala. Sophomore throwers Jayla Bostic and David Levin threw career bests in the weight throw on Saturday, as Bostic tossed a career-best 18.85m/61-10.25 to finish second in the women’s weight throw. On the men’s side, Levin bested his previous career mark by over five feet, throwing 18.44m/60-6 to come in third. Florida’s sprinting corps had a solid day at the CrossPlex, as the men’s 4x400-meter relay, comprised of just sophomores and freshmen, led the way with a time of 3:07.59. Najee Glass, Hugh Graham, Jr., Dedric Dukes and Arman Hall combined for the second-fastest time in the NCAA so far in 2013. The women’s 4x400-meter relay also turned in a time that ranks second in the NCAA, as Lanie Whittaker, Destinee Gause, Kyra Jefferson and Ebony Eutsey teamed up to finish in 3:38.65, good for second behind Texas. Two-time defending SEC Champion hurdler Eddie Lovett was impressive on Saturday, winning both his prelim and final, taking the title in 7.76 for the fourth-fastest time of his career and the third-fastest time in the NCAA this year. The Gators return to Gainesville to host their only home meet indoors in 2013, the Gator Invitational. The one-day meet will take place all day on Thursday, January 17th.

    Georgia

    Men - Georgia starts its season at the Auburn Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Jan. 19.  The Bulldogs return to action indoors after scoring the most points in program history (85.5) at the 2012 SEC Indoor Championships for third place, which was their best finish since the 1994 campaign.  Georgia finished in the top 26 for the third consecutive year at the NCAA Indoor Championships after registering nine points for a tie for 23rd. Women - Georgia starts its season at the Auburn Invitational in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Jan. 19.  The Lady Bulldogs enter their 2013 campaign with the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the nation, headlined by World Junior champion and 2012 Olympian sprinter Shaunae Miller.  Two SEC champions from 2012 – sophomore Morgann Leleux (pole vault) and senior Kristie Krueger (10,000 meters) - return for Georgia after the Lady Bulldogs scored the third-most points in history (108) at the SEC Outdoor Championships for fourth place last year.  Indoors, Georgia is coming off a season where it finished fifth at the SEC meet and tied for 28th at the NCAA Championships.  Leleux completed her first collegiate indoor season in 2012 by earning runner-up honors in the pole vault at Nationals.  The New Iberia, La., native repeated that performance at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships.

    Kentucky

    Three Wildcats opened 2013 with event titles at home on Saturday inside Nutter Field House. Cally Macumber, Bradley Szypka and Darryl Bradshaw all won their events at the Kentucky Invitational. Macumber won the mile in PR time of 4:42.30 against a field, which included two unattached runners who competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. The cross country All-American’s time – in her first run of the indoor season – currently ranks as the second best mile in the country this season, and leads the SEC. Szypka won the shot put for the second consecutive meet with PR mark of 18:36m/60-03.00, which came on his final throw of the afternoon. He is now the SEC leader in the event, and has the No. 5 shot put in the nation this season. Bradshaw won the men's 60h in 8:07, while Brandon Bagley took fifth in the event with a time of 8.24. Kadeem Kushimo also turned in a PR time of 47.85 in the 400m, which was the best run by a collegiate competitor in the event. The sophomore finished second overall, and his 400m time ranks third in the SEC in 2013.

    LSU

    Men - Sophomore sprinter Aaron Ernest led the charge for the No. 10-ranked Tigers in their season opener at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener on Saturday afternoon as he slashed more than a half second off of his indoor personal best in the 200-meter dash with a dominating victory at the Birmingham Crossplex. Ernest opened his season by sprinting to the finish line in 20.80 seconds to take the title over the 21.22 by Florida’s Arman Hall and 21.33 by Mississippi State’s Tavaris Tate with the NCAA’s third-fastest 200-meter time following the opening weekend of the 2013 indoor season. Ernest, an NCAA Outdoor All-American and World Junior Championships silver medalist in the 200 meters, is off to a flying start as a sophomore as he became the fifth-fastest Tiger indoors with his performance. He had never run faster than 21.47 on a banked track indoors before Saturday’s victory at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener. Joining Ernest on the winner’s podium was fellow sophomore Quincy Downing, who also smashed his indoor personal record in winning the 400-meter title during the event. Downing, who owns an outdoor PR of 46.18 in the 400 meters, opened the season by running 47.72 to finish the weekend as the NCAA’s No. 12-ranked performer in the event for the young season. Downing also led off LSU’s 4x400-meter relay that opened the season with a run of 3 minutes, 9.81 seconds after he teamed with freshman Darrell Bush, freshman Cyril Grayson and senior Caleb Williams in taking second place with the fourth-fastest time nationally. The Tigers will return to action this weekend with the trip to College Station, Texas, to compete against Arkansas and Texas A&M at the Texas A&M Triangular being held Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium. Women - The Lady Tigers opened their 2013 indoor season by taking home an event title with their performance at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener on Saturday afternoon as senior Kimberlyn Duncan (60 meters), junior Denise Hinton (weight throw) and sophomore Tori Bliss (shot put) each took their place on the winner’s podium in the event held at the Birmingham Crossplex. Duncan emerged as a top-10 performer in the NCAA following the opening weekend of the season with her season-opening run of 7.37 seconds in the 60-meter final. Duncan, who took the title over matching times of 7.47 by Florida State’s Marecia Pemberton and Florida’s Shayla Sanders, tied for the No. 9-ranked performance nationally in the 60-meter dash. Duncan is already ahead of last year’s pace as she did not break 7.40 in the event until her seventh race of the 2012 season before lining up in the NCAA final at the end of the season. Hinton was also impressive with her season-opening performance in winning the weight throw title on Saturday as she opened her series with a mark of 64 feet, 8 inches to take the early lead and never looked back as she held on for the victory. Hinton’s series also included marks of 63-6 in the fourth round, 62-2 ¼ in the sixth round and 62-1 in the third round, which each bested the runner-up performance of 61-10 ¾ by Florida’s Jayla Bostic. Bliss led a host of Lady Tigers setting new indoor personal bests with her victory in the shot put. Like Hinton, Bliss posted her best mark on her very first throw with a lifetime best of 51-9 ¾ to eclipse her previous indoor PR of 51-7 and move into the No. 4 spot on LSU’s all-time indoor performance list in the women’s shot put. The Lady Tigers will return to action this weekend with the trip to College Station, Texas, to compete against Arkansas and Texas A&M at the Texas A&M Triangular being held Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.

    Ole Miss

    Men - Sophomore pole vaulter Sam Kendricks stole the show at the UAB Blazer Invite, to lead the No. 23 Ole Miss men to a strong showing in their second indoor meet of the season. Kendricks cleared a personal-best (indoor or outdoor) 18-1.75 to shatter his own school record and overwhelm the competition at the Birmingham CrossPlex. His vault is tied for the best by an American this indoor season and ranks among the top 10 in the world. He is tied for second among NCAA pole vaulters. Without missing on any attempts, he established new meet and facility records and broke his previous school indoor record (17-6.5) by more than half a foot. The Rebels had another outstanding performance from senior Ricky Robertson, whose mark of 7-2.5 in the high jump tied the meet record, and he nearly cleared 7-4.5, which would have tied his own facility record set on Dec. 1, 2012. The senior from Hernando, Miss., also placed second in the long jump with a mark of 24-1.5. Robertson currently ranks fifth nationally in the high jump and 14th in the long jump. Other Rebels who rank highly on the NCAA indoor lists include Morris Kersh in the triple jump (19th, 48-11.5) and Montez Griffin in the 400 (39th, 48.48). Ole Miss returns to the same impressive Birmingham facility for the third straight time this Saturday for the Auburn Invitational. Women - The Ole Miss women had a strong showing at the UAB Blazer Invite last Friday and were again led by freshman Asia Cooper and senior Jazmin Miller for the second time in as many meets. Both repeated as event champions – Cooper in the 60 meters and Miller in the weight throw. Cooper, a rookie from Jackson, Miss., blazed down the track to beat all other competitors with a time of 7.46, just off her winning time of 7.45 on the same track in December. She also placed third in the 200 with a personal-best mark of 24.54. She ranks top four among SEC freshmen in both the 60 and the 200. She is 24th in the NCAA in the 60 and 46th in the 200. Miller claimed her second straight weight throw title with a winning toss of 59-9.5. She ranks 23rd in the NCAA and third in the SEC in her signature event. Other Rebels who rank highly on the NCAA indoor lists include Marci Morman in the triple jump (23rd, 40-0.75), Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen in the 800 (24th, 2:13.33), Fabia McDonald in the long jump (28th, 19-2) and Deonna Walton in the triple jump (34th, 39-5.75). Ole Miss returns to the same impressive Birmingham facility for the third straight time this Saturday for the Auburn Invitational.

    Mississippi State

    Lacing up on the road, the Mississippi State Bulldogs closed out their dual-meet action Saturday at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener after capturing 10 Top 5 finishes on the day. Highlighted by the 4x400-meter relay team’s top finish (3:06.50), Daundre Barnaby, Brandon McBride, Randy Patterson and Tavaris Tate excelled while leading the Bulldogs to success. Erica Bougard, sophomore heptathlete, finished Top 3 in three of her five events and posted a top score (8.44) in the 60-meter hurdles. The Bulldogs continued their success Saturday, picking up more top victories as D’Angelo Cherry and Nathan Arnett claimed second-place spots in the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles, respectively. Emma Neigel started competition off for MSU on Friday at the UAB Blazer Indoor Invitational, as she finished seventh in the one mile, posting a time of 5:07.91. The MSU women then displayed strong performances by their distance veterans, including a fourth-place finish from Cornelia Griesche (10:24.02) in the 300-meter run.  Following Griesche with a Top 15 finish was Carmen Brothers, who posted a time of 10:55.03. Also shining for the Maroon and White on Friday was Cherry, capturing a first-place finish in the 60-meter dash, crossing the line in 6.66 seconds. Following their return from Birmingham, the Bulldogs begin preparation for the Auburn Invitational on Jan. 19.

    Missouri

    The Missouri Track and Field squads are gearing up for their official season-opener at home on Friday with the Missouri Invitational.  A small contingent of athletes already had their first taste of competition on December 7 at the Iowa State Cyclone Holiday Preview.  The group of throwers left with one new School Record in the shot put for sophomore Kearsten Peoples, a couple of first place finishes, three All-Time Top Ten marks, and six personal records.  Both teams are looking forward to continuing with the strong performances on Friday against the 13 teams that will be in attendance.  

    South Carolina

    Men - The South Carolina men's squad posted wins in five of their six events as they opened their season in the USC Indoor Open on Saturday. The Gamecocks went 1-2 in the 55-meter final with sophomore Kendall Kee and junior Chris Royster.   Kee's 6.29 and Royster's 6.33, both recorded in the finals, are the second and third fastest time in the nation in the 55-meter dash. Dondre Echols and Jermaine Collier, both freshman, placed second and third in the 55-meter hurdles at their first meet for the Gamecocks. Echols' time of 7.38 is the fastest 55-meter hurdle time turned in by a freshman this season. Sophomore Andrew Seay set a new PR in the weight throw, hitting the mark of 56-05.75 (17.21m). Freshman Drew Galang won the 800m in his first collegiate meet and sophomore Daniel Novak won the mile run. Freshman Austin Eckenroth captured the pole vault win with a 16-00.75 (4.90m) in his debut. Women - The Gamecock women won seven of their nine events at the first of two USC Indoor Open events this season. Senior Breanna Radford was the highlight of the day, securing two wins and two new PRs.  Radford started the day with a weight throw victory (17.32m // 56-10.00), besting her previous top mark by over two feet. She followed up the weight throw win by taking the shot put (15.91m // 52-02.50).  Both marks pushed Radford into the top 10 in the South Carolina indoor record book. Senior Kierre Beckles kicked off her season with a victory in the 55-meter hurdles and sophomore Christal Green posted the win in the 55-meter dash. Beckles' 7.70 is the fastest in the nation this season for the event. Junior Petra Olsen won the pole vault with a clearance of 12-09.50 (3.90m). The Gamecocks had the top runner in both the 400m in senior Ashley Hunter and the 800m in freshman Anna Todd, who set a personal best. In the 3,000-meter run, South Carolina went 1-2 with freshmen Lauren Kahre and Christine Kent both setting PRs. The Gamecocks travel to Birmingham, Ala., this weekend to compete in the Auburn Indoor Invitational.

    Tennessee

    The Tennessee track & field team matched last season’s total by producing five event wins, including three on the final day, to conclude the Kentucky Invitational – the opening meet of the 2013 season for the Big Orange. The Vols got off to a good start for UT on Friday night, placing 1-2 in the distance medley relay and winning the weight throw competition.  In his first collegiate meet, rookie Cameron Brown closed the men’s weight throw prelims with a record-setting 61-foot, 8 1/2-inch (18.81m) toss on his third attempt to best former Vol Richard Wooten’s indoor mark of 60-5 (18.41). Lady Vol senior Nijgia Snapp got off to a quick start on Saturday by defending her women’s 800-meter title, crossing the line in 2:09.68. Snapp’s teammates Kianna Ruff and Alexis Panisse followed closely, crossing the line in third and fourth place, respectively. Snapp’s mark currently stands as the sixth-fastest time in the nation so far this season. Freshman pole vaulter Jacob Blankenship highlighted day two’s action by posting a huge number in the event, eclipsing a personal-record 17-8 1/2 (5.40m) to win the event. Blankenship was just off the Tennessee freshman indoor record clip of 18-0 1/2 set by Olympic silver medalist Lawrence Johnson in 1993. The Blacklick, Ohio, native’s mark tied him for eighth all-time in the UT indoor record books and currently has him ranked sixth in the NCAA and second among freshman. He also ranks second in the event in the SEC. The Vols concluded the day with an impressive run in the 4x400m relay, cruising to a first-place finish in 3:15.99. After a solid start from senior Terry Benson, redshirt freshman Antonio Carter regained control of the race with a great second leg, before Breon Dixon and Michael Williams finished off the win. The Vols added four runner-up finishes and three third-place marks on the final day of competition, including first-year Vol Peter Okwera’s runner-up performance in the men’s 3000m. The cross country All-American finished in 8 minutes, 18.48 seconds. In addition to Snapp’s win, Lady Vol pole vaulters Linda Hadfield and Erin Champion both set personal records and went 2-4 in the competition. The Big Orange is back in action this week when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., for the annual Virginia Tech Invitational from Jan. 18-19.

    Texas A&M

    Texas A&M will host a triangular meet featuring Arkansas and LSU on Jan. 19. Recent Track & Field News dual meet rankings have the Aggie men and women each ranked No. 2 while the No. 1 status was bestowed upon the Arkansas men and LSU women. The Arkansas women rank No. 5 with the LSU men at No. 8. Men – Texas A&M, nationally ranked No. 4 in the USTFCCCA computer rankings, recorded six wins on the way to securing the team title at its 12-Team Invitational. The Aggies scored 111.5 points to outscore the field that included Baylor (83), Stephen F. Austin (67), Texas-Arlington (62), Houston (56.5), UTSA (48), Rice (33), and Sam Houston State (33). Prezel Hardy Jr. led A&M with a pair of wins as he posted times of 6.64 (share of SEC lead) and 20.78 (U.S. leader) to claim a sprint double in the 60 and 200, where he set a meet record and lowered his PR from 20.99. Casey Strong improved his school record in the weight throw and bettered the meet record with a 64-3.75 (19.60). The Aggies also set meet records in winning the 4 x 400 (3:06.25, world leader) and distance medley relay (9:57.03). Deon Lendore split 45.4 on the second leg of the 4 x 400 while Henry Lelei opened the distance medley with a 3:02.8 split on the 1200m leg. Women - No. 6 Texas A&M totaled six victories in claiming the team title at the its 12-Team Invitational with 145 points, bettering a field that included Baylor (108), Houston (57), Texas-Arlington (50), Rice (43), Texas State (42) and UTSA (35). In making her Aggie debut LaQue Moen-Davis broke the long jump meet record with a mark of 20-11.25 (6.83) to become the current U.S. and collegiate leader. The performance by Moen-Davis also made her the No. 2 performer with the No. 3 performance on the A&M all-time list. While Jennifer Madu claimed the 60 in 7.44, Kamaria Brown posted a SEC leading mark of 23.57 to win the 200 and paced an Aggie 1st through 9th place finish in the event. Ibukun Mayungbe set a SEC leading time in the 400 with a runner-up finish in 54.45. Brown also anchored the winning 4 x 400 as the Aggies ran 3:43.19 to edge Baylor’s 3:43.31.

    Vanderbilt

    The Vanderbilt track team opened 2013 at the Kentucky Invitational in Lexington, getting strong performances in the high jump and distance medley relay. The Commodore distance medley team of Kristen Findley, Skyler Carpenter, Sara Barron and Hannah Jumper placed second with a time of 11:35.72. A Kentucky quartet won the even with a time of 11:30.19. Brionne Williams was edged out in the high jump by Louisville's Michelle Kinsella. Both cleared 1.81 meters (five feet, 11.25 inches) on their third attempt and failed to clear 1.85 meters. Kinsella earned the tiebreaker for clearing 1.78 meters on her first try, while it took Williams two attempts. In the 3,000 meters, senior Allie Scalf led seven Vanderbilt runners in the top 14, placing fourth with a time of 9:51.38. Amira Joseph placed sixth with a time of 9:54.16, followed by Grace Orders in eighth (10:07.20), Vanessa Valentine in ninth (10:07.90) and Rebecca Chandler rounding out the top 10 (10:11.35). The mile saw Hannah Jumper get off to a solid start in 2013. The 2012 SEC Cross Country Freshman of the Year posted a time of 4:52.03 to finish fourth. She was followed across the line by fellow freshman Lily Williams in 5:00.36. Senior Kristen Findley was eighth in 5:04.04. Next up for Vanderbilt is the Indiana Relays on January 25-26 in Bloomington, Ind.