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    SEC Track & Field Roundup - Saturday

    Gamecocks Win Four on Final Day in New York

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – South Carolina completed their second day of competition at the Armory Collegiate Invitational on Saturday with four wins. The men finished fourth on the men’s side, behind LSU, Clemson and Kansas.
    Redshirt junior Dorian Johnson won the men’s triple jump college section while sophomore Erika Rucker won the women’s 400-meter championship race. The men’s and women’s 4x200-meter relay teams picked up victories in the championship section. 
    Johnson secured the first Gamecock win of the weekend, with a victory in the college section of the men’s triple jump.  Johnson won his second triple jump event in as many weeks with a leap of 49’4 ¼ (15.04m). 
    Rucker ran her best 400-meters of the season, taking the win in the women’s championship section after qualifying for finals.  Yesterday, Rucker ran a 53.83 to advance and ran a 52.93 to capture the win today. Her time from today would rank third in the collegiate ranks this season.
    The Gamecocks swept the 4x200-meter relay championship sections with the men running a 1:25.81 in their race and the women finishing in 1:38.07. Both the men’s and women’s times rank third fastest in the NCAA season rankings. 
    In one of the most anticipated races of the day, four of the top five times in the women’s 4x400-meters this season faced off in the second section of the 4x400-meter relay championship section.  South Carolina’s quartet of Rucker, freshman Tyler Brockington, x and x ran a time of 3:39.72 to finish third in the heat and fifth overall.  The women were without senior Nadonnia Rodriques who did not finish the 400-meters yesterday due to injury.
    For the men, the foursome of junior Clayton Gravesande, senior Andre Carter and freshmen Jermaine Collier and Dondre Echols finished third in their heat at 3:12.59, finishing seventh overall. 
    The Gamecocks kicked off the day with a sixth place finish from freshman Mary Fouse in the 5,000-meter college race.  Fouse ran a season-best 17:15.95 in the race.  Freshman Lisa Zimmer competed in the college mile run for the Gamecocks, taking 16th place with a collegiate best of 4:59.85.  The South Carolina youth continued to make a strong showing with freshman Anna Todd taking 12th in the women’s 800-meter college section with a time of 2:14.77.
    Junior Jeannelle Scheper took second in the women’s championship high jump with a clearance of 5’11 ¼ (1.81m). 
    In the 200-meter championship heats, the Gamecocks just missed out of berths in the finals in both the men’s and women’s races. Junior Chris Royster ran a season-best 21.65 to finish 13th, just outside of the 12-man final.  Royster was .02 behind the last runner that advanced. 
    Freshmen Alexis Murphy and Tyler Brockington finished 15th and 16th, respectively in the women’s 200-meter championship heats.  Murphy ran a time of 24.51 and Brockington was at 24.52, both were collegiate bests. 
    In the men’s college pole vault, freshman Austin Eckenroth cleared a mark of 16’0 ¾ (4.90m) for the third time this season.  Eckenroth placed fifth in the section. 
    Next weekend, the Gamecocks split the squad, sending athletes to the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., as well as the Tiger Paw Invitational in Clemson, S.C.

    Ernest Dominates 200 Meters, LSU Wraps Up at Armory

    NEW YORK – Sophomore sprint star Aaron Ernest solidified his reputation as a national championship contender in the 200-meter dash as he remained undefeated this season with a dominating victory in Saturday’s finale at the 13th-annual Armory Collegiate Invitational at the New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory.
    Ernest became LSU’s fifth event champion for the weekend as he joined a quartet of seniors Laura Carleton (3,000 meters), Kimberlyn Duncan (60 meters), Damar Forbes (long jump) and Charlene Lipsey (1,000 meters) on the winner’s podium with his performance.
    Friday’s victories by the likes of Carleton, Duncan and Lipsey propelled the No. 5-ranked Lady Tigers to the women’s team championship with 73 points at this year’s Armory Collegiate Invitational. It is the sixth time in the meet’s 13-year history and the first time since 2008 that the Lady Tigers have taken home the team title.
    The Lady Tigers outlasted Clemson (69) in second place, Kansas (57.5) in third place and South Carolina (48) in fourth place in the final women’s team standings.
    LSU Track & Field has now won 10 team titles all-time at the Armory Collegiate Invitational as the Tigers last captured the men’s crown in 2011 for their fourth win in 13 seasons.
    The Tigers scored 53.5 points in two days of action at The Armory to finish as the men’s team runner-up for the second-straight season. The Texas A&M Aggies finished 8.5 points clear of the Tigers to win the men’s team title with 62 points for the meet. Clemson followed in third place with 48 points, while Tennessee scored 46 points to finish in fourth place.
    “I think both our teams made a great showing here this weekend. I’m very proud with how we competed more than anything,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We did some great things that I know will put our teams in a position to succeed at the NCAA meet. We took another big step as a team this weekend.”
    Ernest continued his dominance of the 200-meter sprint and remained undefeated for the 2013 season while turning in one of the all-time great performances in the history of The Armory.
    After qualifying with the fastest time of the preliminary round at 21.14 to win the first heat, Ernest lined up in lane No. 5 in the third of three sections in the men’s championship final with Illinois’ Brandon Stryganek in lane No. 3 and Maryland-Eastern Shore’s Andre Walsh in lane No. 4 to his inside and Texas A&M’s Prezel Hardy, Jr. in lane No. 6 on his outside shoulder.
    With the crack of the starter’s pistol, Ernest was off as he made up the stagger on Hardy, Jr. down the backstretch and gained the advantage at 100 meters. The Tiger star then pulled away from the Aggie All-American around the final turn and sprinted to the finish line with a winning time of 20.83 that drew a resounding cheer from the crowd . Ernest tied for the third-fastest 200 meters ever run in the 13-year history of the Armory Collegiate Invitational as he finished four-tenths of a second ahead of Hardy, Jr.’s 21.23 for second place.
    Walsh finished third in the heat and fourth overall at 21.38, while Stryganek clocked 21.43 for fourth in the race. Clemson’s Tevin Hester took third place overall after taking the second heat in 21.25.
    Ernest remains the NCAA’s No. 3-ranked 200-meter sprinter for 2013 with his indoor best of 20.79 in a victory at the Texas A&M Triangular on Jan. 19. While he still trails Hardy, Jr.’s 20.78 for the No. 2 spot in the national rankings this season, Ernest holds a 2-0 advantage in head-to-head competition with the Aggie star.
    With his performance, Ernest becomes the third LSU Tiger to win the 200-meter title at the Armory Collegiate Invitational as he joins former Tiger stars Xavier Carter (2005) and Melville Rogers (2007).
    Ernest certainly remembers the first time he stepped on the 200-meter oval at The Armory when he ran 22.13 in the qualifying heats as a freshman a year ago.
    “I ran 22 something on this same track last year, so I’m really excited to come back here and show what I do in a competition like this, Ernest said. “It’s not easy to run the 200 on this track. I’m excited that I was able to run that well. I felt really good running the prelim, so I knew I would come back and run pretty fast in the final.
    “There are always great sprinters in this meet. To be one of the fastest ever to run here means a lot, but I wanted to win it today.”
    Ernest continues his momentum from a breakout freshman season outdoors in 2012 when he captured an impressive three All-America honors in his debut at the NCAA Outdoor Championships before a haul of three medals for the United States at the IAAF World Junior Championships last summer. He was the silver medalist in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at World Juniors last year and the anchor leg for the gold-medal-winning 4x100-meter relay for the United States.
    “I didn’t have the confidence running indoors last year like I do right now,” Ernest said. “Doing what I did during the outdoor season last year has really helped me this year. I know I’ve got what it takes to compete indoors just like I do outdoors. It’s been a great season so far, and I want to keep it going each week.”
    Two other Tigers added to LSU’s point total as sophomore Quincy Downing and freshman Darrell Bush enjoyed indoor personal-best performances in Saturday’s finale.
    Downing was the first to step onto the track as he scored five points with a fourth-place finish in the men’s championship 800 meters while running an indoor PR of 1 minute, 50.96 seconds. Downing’s PR outdoors is 1:50.68 set during his freshman season a year ago. Bush, who has run an outdoor best of 46.95 in the 400 meters, ran his third indoor PR in as many races this season with a run of 47.26 to earn fifth place in Friday’s championship final. Bush ran a previous best of 47.37 in Friday’s qualifying round.
    The Lady Tigers scored the majority of their points in the field events during Saturday’s finale, including a combined 18 points between the triple jump and weight throw.
    Junior Denise Hinton led the way as she continued the momentum from a record-setting Friday night for the Lady Tigers by matching her own school record in a second-place finish in the weight throw. A series-best mark of 69 feet, 9 ¾ inches locked up a runner-up finish for the Peachtree City, Ga., native as she trailed only event champion Alena Krechyk of Kansas (71-4 ¾) in the standings. Hinton moved into the No. 6 spot in the NCAA rankings with her performance while equaling her school record set at the LSU NCAA Indoor Qualifier a year ago.
    Hinton wasn’t the only Lady Tiger to set a seasonal-best in the weight throw final as fellow junior Karen Henning threw 60-7 ¾ for seventh place. Henning owns a personal best of 60-10 in the event.
    The Lady Tigers added eight points with a strong showing in the championship triple jump as junior Keri Emanuel jumped a series-best 41-8 ½ for third place and junior Lynnika Pitts posted a new seasonal best of 40-10 ½ for seventh place in the competition. Emanuel already ranks No. 4 in the NCAA with a best of 42-8 ¾ this season.
    LSU’s women clinched their team championship with a third-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay with senior Siedda Herbert, senior Charlene Lipsey, junior Nikita Tracey and sophomore Montenae Roye-Speight running 3 minutes, 38.65 seconds for second place in the third heat. Arkansas won the relay in 3:35.20, while Clemson followed second place at 3:38.06 to win the second heat.
    The Tigers earned a runner-up finish in the men’s 4x400 relay as freshman Cyril Grayson, Downing, senior Caleb Williams and Bush ran 3:10.68 for second place behind Texas A&M’s 3:09.62.
    Other LSU athletes setting indoor personal bests on Saturday afternoon were sophomore Philip Primeaux (8:38.37) in the 3,000 meters and freshman Fitzroy Dunkley (48-8 ¼) in a second-place finish with the men’s college triple jump.
    “I thought our athletes performed very well across all of the event areas this weekend,” Shaver said. “We talk so much with our athletes about the importance of taking advantage of each opportunity to compete. It’s not always about how fast you run or how far you might jump or throw. It’s about how hard you compete when given the chance. We saw a lot of that here this weekend.”
    The Tigers and Lady Tigers will now head back to the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark., next weekend to compete in the Tyson Invitational being held Feb. 8-9. The University of Arkansas will also play host to the SEC Indoor Championships on Feb. 22-24 and the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 8-9.

    Texas A&M Defends Team Title at Armory

    NEW YORK CITY - Four victories on day two of the Armory Collegiate Invitational propelled Texas A&M men to a successful team title defense. Scoring 62 points placed the Aggies ahead of LSU for the second consecutive year and earned A&M its third men's team title in the Armory since 2010.
    The Aggie women tied for fifth with Arkansas in team scoring as each produced 39 points. LSU women won the title with 73 points over Clemson's 69.
    Henry Lelei started of the string of event wins for the Aggies in the 3,000 meters. Then a late rush of points came near the end of the meet with Deon Lendore controlling the open 400 while Casey Strong established another school record with his win in the weight throw.
    With 52 points heading into the 4 x 400, A&M held an edge over Clemson (48), Tennessee (46) and LSU (45.5). Among four sections of the relay, the Aggies and LSU were set to run in the final section along with Arkansas.
    The leading time after the first three sections was a 3:11.75 from Illinois, followed by a 3:12.35 from Hampton. Clemson didn't have a relay entered and the Tennessee crew ran 3:16.54 and didn't score in the event.
    Texas A&M led off their 4x4 with Aldrich Bailey, Jr. and his split of 47.4 had A&M in the lead when he handed the baton off to Bralon Taplin. Arkansas challenged for the lead, but Taplin maneuvered inside his Razorback counterpart as they completed the first lap of the second leg. Taplin split 47.8 as he gave the baton to Greg Coleman with the Aggies even with Arkansas.
    Coleman split 48.5, maintaining the A&M edge on his first lap. On the homestretch to the next exchange, though, Arkansas and LSU managed to pass Coleman. However, the Aggies had the individual winner of the 400 waiting to handle the anchor leg.
    Lendore took the baton in third place, watching Arkansas and LSU bump each other through the final circuits of the race. Bidding his time, Lendore pounced with 120m remaining. A split of 45.9 for Lendore held off a final charge from LSU for a 3:09.62 to 3:10.68 A&M victory that secured the team title while Arkansas finished third in 3:11.65.
    Strong helped the Aggies be in position for the team as the weight throw finished just before the 4 x 400 relays were set to begin. An impressive mark of 66-9.75 (20.36) topped the collegians in the field by over three feet. Professional athlete Jacob Freeman turned in a throw of 76-5.5 (23.30), but Strong secured the 10 points for Texas A&M.
    Taking the lead in the second round, Strong improved it in the fourth stanza. Then he bettered his school record of 65-0.75 (19.83) in the sixth and final round with his winning effort.
    Current world leader Lendore sped to a 46.49 victory in the championship 400 meters. Stationed in lane 3 with teammate Bailey in lane 2 the Aggie tandem made up the staggers and were running first and second at the 200m mark.
    Lendore pulled away for the field on the backstretch of the second lap while Bailey attempted to stay in front of the field. On the race home off the final curve Lendore was challenged by George Mason's David Verburg (46.56). Pittsburgh's Brycen Spratling slipped ahead of Bailey for third place in 47.05. Bailey ran 47.33 for fourth in the heat and seventh overall.
    Lelei claimed the 3,000-meter title with a time of 8:03.71, just missing his school record of 8:01.01. Lelei led the race through the mile at 4:20 and bettered a field that included Princeton's Michael Franklin (8:04.59), Duke's Mike Moverman (8:07.91) and Mike Murphy of Columbia (8:08.73). Another Aggie in the race, C.J. Brown, lost his shoe early on and opted not to finish.
    La Que Moen-Davis captured the championship triple jump with an impressive leap of 42-0.75 (12.82). Moen-Davis, who moves to No. 8 on the Aggie all-time list, won the event by three-quarters of an inch over Abilene Christian's Amanda Ouerdraogo while LSU's Keri Emanuel placed third with a 41-8.5 (12.71) effort.
    A chance for the Aggie women to finish higher in the team scoring came up short when Kanika Beckles took a spill as she neared the completion of her third leg carry for a leading A&M 4 x 400 relay. The Aggies built a lead over LSU and Arkansas behind relay carries from Janeil Bellille and Ibukun Mayungbe.
    With 100m left on her leg, Beckles was clipped by LSU. She fell hard, dropping the baton, and was unable to finish. Arkansas won the race in 3:35.20 while LSU was second in the section with a 3:38.65, but finished third overall behind a 3:38.06 by Clemson from another section.
    The Aggies finished in second and sixth place in the women's 200 championship final. Ashton Purvis turned in a 23.30 for runner-honors as Ashley Collier won her section from lane three in 23.77 and placed sixth overall. Clemson's Brianna Collins won the event in 23.22 with Paris Daniels of Kansas third in 23.46.
    Prezel Hardy, Jr. ran 21.23 for second place in the 200, finishing behind a 20.83 from LSU's Aaron Ernest.
    Hardy managed to finish ahead of the second section winner, Clemson's Tevin Hester, who recorded a 21.25.
    Dave Brown produced a career best in the triple jump, placing third with a mark of 50-3.5 (15.33). Jason Harper of Mississippi State won the event with a 51-11.25 (15.83). 
    The men's 4 x 800 relay had an exciting twist when Cameron Thornton had the baton dislodged when it made contact with the elbow of Duke's opening leg. Thornton had the Aggies in third place at that stage, but fell back to 11th in the 12 team field when he had to stop to retrieve the baton.
    Following the 1:57.4 split for Thornton, Hector Hernandez took off on the second leg, making up ground. Hernandez moved the Aggies into sixth, then fourth and eventually third place over the course of his 1:52.3 split.
    Josh Hernandez was in third place when he received the baton and was able to move into second place briefly while he turned in a 1:50.0 split. Handing the baton to anchor James Bonn, A&M was in solid position behind Columbia and Duke.
    Bonn passed Duke to claim second place at the end of his first lap, and then tracked down Columbia for the lead by the end of his second lap. Bonn cruised along in the lead for the next lap and a half. Then Duke, followed by Columbia, made their move with a kick to the finish line.
    Columbia had the edge with a lean at the line winning in 7:30.15 to Duke's 7:30.24. Bonn split 1:52.1 in finishing third with a time of 7:31.79.
    In the women's 400 championship final the Aggie trio of Kamaria Brown, Beckles and Bellille finished 7-8-9. Brown posted a time of 54.89 for fourth in the first section while Bellille ran 55.12 for fifth place. Beckles ran 55.01 for fourth in the second section. The overall winner was South Carolina's Erika Rucker, who claimed the first section in 52.93.
    A&M's tandem of Hillary Montgomery and Grace Fletcher opened the morning with a first and third place finish in the college division of the 5,000 meters as each set a career best and moved to No. 9 and No. 10 on the Aggie all-time list.
    Fletcher led the first half of the race and then gave way to Montgomery and Albany's Brittany Lane. On the bell lap, Lane had the edge. Montgomery challenged Lane in the final stages of the race and pulled ahead for a 16:56.15 victory as Lane finished in 16:57.02. Fletcher claimed third and also registered a time under 17 minutes with a 16:57.38.
    Clearing a height of 17-0.75 (5.20) in the pole vault earned Chase Wolfle second place in the college division pole vault. On the Aggie all-time list Wolfle equals the No. 9 mark and is the first to crack the top 10 since 2004. Teammate Dustin Phillips placed fourth in the vault with a clearance of 16-4.75 (5.00).
    After setting a school record in the weight throw a week ago, Brea Garrett produced the No. 8 performance on the Aggie all-time list with a toss of 60-7.75 (18.47) for eighth place in the championship division. Jennifer Edwards placed 21st with a mark of 55-0.75 (16.78).
    Finishing behind Moen-Davis in the women's championship triple jump was Jennifer Madu in 10th place with a mark of 39-0.5 (11.90) while Melissa Mays fouled on each of her attempts. Jordan Wilson finished 10th in the college division triple jump with a leap of 39-0.25 (11.89). In the championship high jump Chelsea Utley did not clear a height.
    In other distance races, Ryan Miller clocked a personal best of 14:41.43 in the college 5,000 meters to place seventh. Aliese Hyde posted a time of 2:11.36 for fourth place in her section of the championship 800, which put her 12th overall. Isaac Spencer ran 8:32.77 in the college 3,000 to place fourth in his section and 12th overall. Juan Blanco ran the college mile in 4:16.41 to place 20th overall after finishing fifth in his section.
    In qualifying for the women's 200 final the Aggies posted four heat victories. Purvis posted the fastest time with a 23.58 while Collier had the 12th fastest mark at 24.41. Olivia Ekpone won her heat in 24.48, which was 14th overall while LaKeidra Stewart turned in a 25.03 that was 34th overall.
    In the men's 200 qualifying Hardy registered the second fastest time of 21.37 with his heat winner while Jermaine Davis finished fourth in the same heat with a 22.39 that ranked 27th overall.

    Georgia Finished Weekend in Akron

    AKRON, Ohio --- Georgia true freshman Shaunae Miller set the third school record of the year for the Lady Bulldogs as the track and field teams had another exceptional weekend at the Akron Invitational in Akron, Ohio, on Saturday.
    UGA finished its third meet of the season with a dozen victories and some of the Southeastern Conference’s top performances this year.
    “A lot of times when we go to a meet that is not a high-profile one, the athletes wonder why we are going,” said Bulldog head coach Wayne Norton, whose women’s team has already made new No. 1 marks all-time in the 3000-meter run, shot put and 400-meter dash this year.  “I think they got their answer after today.  There was a lot of winning, a lot of personal bests and a lot of people getting better.”
    “I would call it a very successful meet for us.  It was kind of a ‘self-help’ meet without LSU, Arkansas and other tough teams that we always see not there.  I think it was especially important to our freshmen and newcomers to go to a meet where there weren’t all of the (Southeastern Conference) teams to compete against and where they could just focus on their development.”
    Miller, who was racing in only the second indoor meet of her life, completed her laps in 52.96 to leave the second-place finisher behind by more than two seconds.  The Nassau, Bahamas, native topped a previous school record mark of 53.19 set by Gudrun Arnardottir at the 1996 SEC Championships 17 years ago.
    Miller’s finish is the fourth fastest in the nation this year (incidentally also the fourth fastest in the SEC) and ranks 17th in the world this year.  While she ran in the 60 and the distance medley relay as training at the Razorback Invitational a week ago, this was the first time Miller had run the 400, an event she competed in at the 2012 Olympics, for the Lady Bulldogs.
    “The big rookie made her debut in the 400 and she kind of ran cautious and tentative as she continues to learn how to run indoors,” Norton said.  “She didn’t have to go out too strong and it really wasn’t a spectacular performance since she had no one pushing her.  But as good as she is now and as good as she is going to be, we have to remember that she is still a teenager who is miles and miles away from home, living in a dorm and experiencing temperatures she has only read about.  So I am proud of how she is handling everything.”
    When the 200 came arrived, Miller cruised to another victory with the sixth-best time in school history (23.99).  Sophomore Tynia Gaither was the runner-up after finishing in 24.22.
    “As good as our runners were, the people in the field events did just as well,” said Norton.   “Our field events are proving that they can just go out and do it every single meet.”
    Fellow freshman standout Chanice Porter made it three victories in a row for her after winning the long jump with an opening mark of 20 feet, 7 ¼ inches.  Porter is second in the nation in the event.
    In the vertical jumps, senior Saniel Atkinson-Grier went over the high jump bar at 6 feet to pick up her first win of the year.  Her third attempt clearance joins her with at least 10 other competitors nationwide who have already reached 6 feet or better. 
    On the men’s side, sophomore Drew Branch trimmed his personal best in the 400 down to 47.72 to pick up the victory.  His sophomore teammate Chris Foster made his season debut and earned runner-up honors with a career-best 47.77.
    “Both Drew and Chris ran controlled races and I was pleased with how they are coming along,” said Norton.
    Another victory on the track came from sophomore Carly Hamilton in the mile a week after she set the school’s 3000 record.  Hamilton registered a career-best 4:43.46 to move to fourth on the UGA all-time top-10 list with the top time for the Lady Bulldogs in the last three years.
    “Carly ran a big (personal best) and has the opportunity to be one of the best in the SEC this season,” Norton said.
    Hamilton’s senior teammate Nicole DiMercurio had a personal-best effort of her own (4:50.05) to take second in the mile and move to eighth in the school record books.
    “I think the whole team got a boost from our performance in the women’s mile,” said Norton.  “The top two did a great job and Bret McDaniel also hovering around 4:50 was very promising for our distance crew.”
    Sophomore Charles Grethen narrowly missed his personal best in the 800 to win in his first meet with the Bulldogs.  After transferring from Texas State, Grethen clocked a 1:50.59 to move to No. 5 on Georgia’s all-time top-10 list with the fastest time since Aaron Evans set the school record (1:47.88) last year.
    “Charles ran a spectacular race,” said Norton.  “He looked like the guy we decided to bring in to help us.  His finish and the way Daniel ran gives us hope for some success in this event.”
    In a separate 800 race, senior Daniel Grass left the track with the eighth-best time in UGA history after taking third with a mark of 1:50.84.
    Juniors Megan Malasarte and Stella Christoforou earned a victory and a runner-up finish, respectively, in the women’s 800 with two personal-best finishes.  Malasarte took the track for the first time in 2013 and improved her No. 4 spot in the school record books with a 2:07.68.  Working with Malasarte, Christoforou bettered her No. 8 ranking on the all-time list after registering a 2:10.30.
    “Megan did exceptionally well and actually had to come back at the end to win,” Norton said.  “This was only her first meet and I know she will just keep getting better and better.”
    During his second meet of the season, sophomore Justin Scott-Wesley won the 60 after matching his fastest career time (6.75), which is tied for third in the school record books.  Teammate Johnathan Smith was right behind Scott-Wesley for second place after clocking the eighth-best time in school history (6.77).
    When faced with the longer distance, Smith responded by winning the 200 with a 21.50.
    Freshman Pierce Vincent (6.86) also had the fastest times of his Georgia career to third in the 60 prelims before finishing fourth in the finals.
    The Lady Bulldogs also went 1-2 in the 60.  Freshman Briana Vaughn answered a personal-best time in the prelims with the fourth-best time in school history (7.43) in the finals to win.  Gaither, who is now tied on the all-time list with Vaughn after her time at last year’s SECs, was second (7.53).
    “We went one-two in both 60s and that should be a confidence boost for our whole team,” said Norton.  “It gives us something to build on and I am excited about all of their performances.”
    Junior Caleb Whitener forced his way into Georgia’s record books in the shot put after heaving a career-long throw of 60-9.25 to win.  He edged sophomore teammate Nick Vena (60-4), who has a mark of 62-6.75 this season and has already won a meet this season.
    Also in the shot, freshman Ashinia Miller climbed another two feet for the second consecutive week to take fourth with a fifth throw measuring 58-0.50.
    Despite three fouls spread out in his weight throw series, Whitener launched a season-best effort of 59-1.50 to take also sixth in his second event.
    In another division of the 400, junior Eric Mills finished with the second-fastest time of his career at 49.66 to take fourth while freshman Corey Ashbourne was fifth (49.73).
    Junior Elizabeth Tepe continued her climb in the school record books as she moved from eighth to ninth in the weight throw in Akron.  The Marine veteran watched her fourth attempt travel a personal-best 59-6.75 as she took sixth place in the competition.
    Freshman heptathlete Devon Williams took third in the 60 hurdle finals after trimming four hundredths of a second off his personal best to cross the finish line in 8.00.  This bumped Williams from sixth to a tie for fifth in the school record books.
    Also of note, senior pentathlete Lucie Ondraschkova branched out to the triple jump was finished second with a top attempt of 40-11.50.
    Georgia returns to action at the Husky Classic (Seattle, Wash.) and Virginia Tech Elite meet (Blacksburg, Va.) next weekend.

    Arkansas Claims 800-meter Title at Armory

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – The No. 1 University of Arkansas men’s track and field team closed out competition at the 2013 Armory Collegiate Invitational Saturday evening in New York. The Razorbacks picked up a win from Tomas Squella at 800 meters on the final day of the meet. Coupled with its efforts Friday, Arkansas finished the weekend with five top-three results at the Armory event.
    Collectively, the Razorbacks totaled 45 points over the two-day competition, including 20 points from day two. Arkansas returns to its home track next weekend to host the Tyson Invitational. More than 40 universities will be represented at the Feb. 8-9 meet at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
    In the team’s first result of the day, Squella turned in a first-place performance in the championship section of the 800 meters. Running in the second section of the timed final, he ran to a personal-best time of 1:49.51 to secure the top overall spot. Teammate Andrew Pisechko clocked a time of 1:52.61 in section one and finished in ninth place overall.
    Arkansas’ 4x400-meter relay ran to a third-place overall finish in the weekend finale. The team of Neil Braddy, Anton Kokorin, Travis Southard and Akheem Gauntlett turned in a time of 3:11.65 in section four to secure the bronze result. The relay final was split into four sections with the top-three times all coming from the final race that included the SEC trio of the Razorbacks, LSU and Texas A&M.
    The Razorbacks picked up a pair of two-eight performances in the championship section of the mile with Stanley Kebenei and Patrick Rono. Both runners posted personal-best times in the process. Running in the second section of the timed final, Kebenei ran to a sixth-place finish in 4:04.37. Rono won section one of the event final with a time of 4:08.42 and finished eighth overall.
    For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.

    Auburn Sets Records in Nebraska

    LINCOLN, Neb. – In the final day of competition at the 38th annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, Auburn track and field established two new school records and won three individual event titles.
    Freshman Jessie Johnson staked her claim in the Auburn record book in the women’s pole vault. The Argyle, Texas native cleared the bar at 12-8.25 (3.57m) to establish a new indoor school record and also a new freshman record. She finished eighth overall.
    In her first career indoor meet, Valentina Muzaric set a new Auburn indoor program and freshman record as she placed third in the women’s shot put with a long throw of 52-3.25 feet (15.93m). A native of Croatia, Muzaric redshirted the indoor season at Virginia Tech in 2012.
    Senior Maya Pressley continued her strong start to the indoor season with her first high jump title of the new year. The former SEC Champion cleared a new indoor personal best of 6-0 (1.83m) as she improved upon her height for the third-straight week.
    Marcus Rowland won his third 60 meter title in three meets this season with a mark of 6.66 seconds in the finals on Saturday. He narrowly clipped teammate Harry Adams in second place in 6.68 seconds. Another teammate, Jeremy Hardy, was sixth in 6.80 seconds.
    Hardy also had a strong run in the men’s 200m consolation final as he finished first in season-best 21.66 seconds.
    Also in the women’s shot put, Anna McCloskey set a new personal best with a throw of 43-6.5 (13.27m). Her throw moves her into eighth all-time at Auburn.
    Competing in his signature event of the shot put for the first time in 2013, junior Stephen Saenz posted a top throw of 63 feet (19.20m) on Saturday. He finished second overall in the event and was the highest finishing collegiate.
    Teammate Marcus Popenfoose was seventh with a long throw of 57-1 (17.40m).
    Niklas Buhner has been enjoying a breakthrough season of sorts in the distance events and that continued on Saturday. The junior from Germany was the highest finish collegian in the men’s mile when he crossed the finish line second overall in 4:06.86.
    In that same men’s mile, sophomore Kane Grimster was fifth in 4:09.71 and sophomore Francis Hernandez was seventh overall with his new PR of 4:10.55. Another distance runner, senior Jeff Sanders, set a new personal best with a fourth place finish in the men’s mile in 4:13.47.
    Sophomore Siobhan Ford-Holland placed fourth in the women’s triple jump with a mark of 39-10.5 (12.15m).  Indoor freshman Samantha Scarlett finished second in the women’s 60 meter hurdles consolation final with a new personal-best mark of 8.50 seconds.
    Freshman Elizabeth Blackwell finished third overall in the women’s 3000m in 10:01.79 and teammate and fellow freshman Taylor Duncan (10:06.75) was sixth. Sophomore Erin Fondren established a new personal best in the event with her mark of 10:16.31.
    Auburn’s next action will be next weekend at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet in Blacksburg, Va. from February 8-9.

    Florida's Dukes Named MVP in Lincoln

    The University of Florida track & field teams finished competition on the second day of the 38th Annual Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational Saturday at Devaney Center Indoor Track at the University of Nebraska.
    “I’m very proud of the team as a whole,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “We had lots of personal records and season bests this weekend. We just have to keep remembering how we got to this point. We’re getting into the championship portion of our season and with hard work and a lot of effort, those efforts will lead us where we want to go.”
    Sophomore Dedric Dukes (Miami, Fla.) set a new Husker Invitational record in the men’s 200 meters, racing to a personal best 20.95 to claim the victory. The win was even more impressive as there was only one other runner in his heat. Dukes broke a record set by Jeremy Dodson, who ran 20.96 in 2011, and Dukes was named the men’s Most Valuable Performer for his efforts. Senior Leonardo Seymore (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) finished fourth in the finals of that race, crossing the finish in 21.36.
    “I’m very proud of Dedric and his performances this weekend,” Holloway commented. “He executed two good races this weekend and he’s just getting started. He’s continuing to become accustomed to running indoors but it’s foreign to him. For him to run the way he did this weekend, I couldn’t be more proud.”
    Freshman Arman Hall (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) won the men’s 400 meters with a new personal best of 46.61, barely edging out fellow Gator Hugh Graham, Jr. (Miami, Fla.) who finished second in a season’s best 46.78.
    In the consolation final of the women’s 200 meters, freshman Shayla Sanders (Pompano Beach, Fla.) won in a personal best 24.00, while racing to another PR in the women’s 60 meters consolation final in her runner-up finish of 7.41. Her time in the 60 meters matches her PR from the Razorback Invitational last weekend and is tied for the seventh-fastest in program history.
    “I’m very proud of Arman and Shayla, but not surprised,” Holloway noted. “They’re working hard and getting better. They’re never satisfied and it’s that desire to stay hungry that will keep them focused heading into championship season.”
    Sophomore Ciarra Brewer (Union City, Calif.) continued her winning ways, capturing her third event in four tries during the 2013 season. On Saturday, it was the women’s triple jump. Brewer leapt 12.94m/42-5.50 on her second attempt to put herself out in front for the duration of the competition. The SEC Outdoor Champion in the women’s triple jump, Brewer now has five victories for her career.
    “Ciarra and Coach (Nic) Petersen are starting to figure things out with one another and while a win is a win, I know neither of them is pleased or satisfied with her jumps this weekend,” Holloway said. “As we get into championship season, she’ll continue to improve.”
    Sophomore Taylor Burke (Medina, Ohio) has improved as the indoor season progresses, clearing a season-best 1.81m/5-11.25 to finish in the runner-up spot in the women’s high jump. Burke is the reigning SEC high jump champ outdoors.
    Next up for the Orange and Blue is a split weekend of competition, as the Gators head to Seattle for the Flotrack Husky Classic and Blacksburg, Va. for the Virginia Tech Elite Meet. Next weekend is the final weekend of action before the SEC Indoor Championships, hosted by the University of Arkansas, February 22-24.
    For all of the latest information on Florida track and field, please log on to or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida track and field on Twitter at @GZTrackField or You can also find the Gators on Facebook.

    Kentucky Wraps Up First Road Weekend of 2013

    SOUTH BEND, Ind., and LINCOLN, Neb. – The Kentucky track and field teams completed the first traveling weekend of the new year on Saturday as multiple Wildcats produced personal bests at two separate meets.
    A group composed predominantly of sprinters, hurdlers, middle distance runners and field athletes competed in Lincoln, Neb., at the Husker Invitational. A squad of men's distance athletes raced at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational in South Bend, Ind.
    In Nebraska Keith Hayes took third in the men's 60-meter hurdles finals with 2013-best time of 7.89. Darryl Bradshaw finished fifth with a personal record 7.94.
    Joanne Imbert tied her personal-best 1.76m/5-09.25 to finish fourth in the women’s high jump.
    Bradley Szypka took fourth with a new PR shot put mark 18.50m/60-08.50, and Isiah Kent finished in sixth with a mark of 18.50m/60-08.50.
    Keilah Tyson finished fifth in the women’s 200M final with a time of 23.98 in her first competition at the distance this season.
    At Notre Dame Matt Hillenbrand continued his strong start to the 2013 season as he finished sixth with a personal record 4:02.78 in the prestigious Meyo Mile. The junior won the 3,000 meters last weekend. Hillenbrand bested his previous record time by more than three seconds.
    Julie Nunn won the women's 400m consolation final with a season-best time of 56.28.
    Michelle Canterna reached a new pole vault PR 3.87m/12-08.25 to place ninth.
    Kayla Parker provided one of the most eye-catching performances in Nebraska on Friday as she took fourth in the women's long jump, with a personal record 5.88m/58-08.0.  
    The Wildcats will split squads again next weekend with meets in both Seattle, Wash., and Fayetteville, Ark., site of the SEC and NCAA Championships later this month.
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    Mississippi State Excels on National Stage

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A trip in which the Mississippi State indoor track and field team split action, the Maroon and White shined in a dual-meet weekend at Notre Dame's Meyo Invitational and the Armory Collegiate Invitational hosted by New Balance in New York.
    Highlighted by freshman Brandon McBride's unrivaled performance in the 800-meter run on day two in South Bend, MSU excelled at showcasing its talents on a national stage. McBride's 800-meter time of 1:47.74 seconds is the Canadian Junior National Record, as well as the No. 2 time in the country.
    "It feels amazing," McBride said of his accomplishment. "I definitely wouldn't be able to do any of these things without my great coaches and training staff at Mississippi State."
    Day one of weekend action for the Bulldogs saw seven Top 20 finishes across the two meets. The Big Apple hosted more than 100 of the nation's top track and field programs, including various international teams from France and Canada. Facing some of its toughest competition yet, MSU posted four Top 10 finishes on the day, which included a first-place victory from D'Angelo Cherry (6.67) in the 60-meter dash.
    Additionally, Kanisha Carey crossed the line in the 500-meter dash in 1:16.50 seconds to give her a tenth-place finish and Nathan Arnett posted a time of 7.88 seconds, finishing sixth in the 60-meter hurdles. To close day one in New York on a high note, Jarrett Samuels (23-05.25) long-jumped his way to an impressive eighth-place.
    Across states in Indiana, distance veteran Katie Huston finished the day for the Lady Bulldogs with a time of 2:52.22 seconds in the 1000-meter run, landing her a sixth- place finish.
    As action continued on Saturday, MSU added to its commendable accomplishments by concluding the day with six Top 3 finishes. In addition to McBride's 800-meter dash victory, Jason Harper (51-11.25) and Marcus Jackson (7-03.25) captured first-place finishes in New York in the triple jump and high jump, respectively. To cap off the day for the men at the Meyo Invitational, Daundre Barnaby earned a third-place finish in the 400-meter dash with a time of 47.12 seconds.
    The Lady Bulldogs maintained MSU's success at the Armory Collegiate Invitational as Ebony Brinker (39-09.25) picked up a third-place finish in the triple jump and Jody-Ann Muir posted a top speed of 54.23 seconds in the 400-meter dash.
    After returning to Starkville, the team turns its focus to next weekend's action, where the Bulldogs will split meets again as they travel to Birmingham for the Samford Multi Invite and to the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville.

    High Jump Win Highlights Vandy's Time in NYC

    NEW YORK -- Brionne Williams won the championship division of the high jump to highlight Vanderbilt's trip to the Armory Collegiate Invitational in Manhattan.
    Williams cleared 1.81 meters (5'11.25") on her second try to win the event. Neither Willams nor South Carolina's Jeannelle Scheper could clear 1.84 meters, but Scheper took three tries to clear 1.81 meters, giving Williams the win.
    Day two action also included Hannah Jumper in the championship division of the mile, two personal records in both the 800 meters and the mile and another personal best in the 3,000 meters.
    "What a big win for Brionne against some tough competition," Vanderbilt Head Coach Steve Keith said. "Apropos to New York City, she performed very well on the big stage."
    Keith was also pleased with the efforts on the track on day two.
    "We had some nice improvements and PR's with the distance kids in the morning and ran a good 4x400 with the sprinters," Keith added. "Everyone is continuing to progress and move forward."
    The day started with four Commodores in the 3,000 meters college division. Grace Orders ran a personal record of 9:46.99 and finished fifth in the division. Amria Joseph was ninth in 9:54.26, followed by Allie Scalf in 12th and a time of 9:59.43. 
    Next up was a trio of black and gold runners in the collegiate division of the mile. Kristen Findley and Lily Williams both crossed the line in 4:52.97. It was an indoor personal record for Williams. Vanessa Valentine was 20th and set a personal record crossing the line of 5:02.21.
    Sara Baron and Katherine Delaney both ran personal bests in the 800 meters. Baron finished third in the college field with a time of 2:11.97, while Delaney was 15th with a time of 2:15.85.
    Vanderbilt's group of young sprinters posted a 4x400 meter relay time of 3:49.01, finishing 11th in the college division. Faith Washington, Jennifer Cannon, Barron and Skyler Carpenter ran the event.
    Vanderbilt fielded competitors in two championship events on day two - Jumper in the mile and Williams in the high jump.
    Jumper finished 15th with a time of 4:54.48, leaving Williams with the highlight of the day.
    Williams cleared 1.73 meters on her first try before making 1.78 and 1.81 on her second attempts, sealing the victory.
    For Keith, Vanderbilt's first trip to the Armory Collegiate Invitational, which included over 100 college programs, proved a success.
    "All-in-all it was a great first experience at the Armory Collegiate Invitational," Keith concluded. "We'll definitely be back."
    Next up for the Commodore track and field team is the Samford Multi and Invitational, held in Birmingham, Ala., February 8-9. It will be Vanderbilt's last meet before the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., February 22-24.

    Ole Miss Wins Three Event TItles at Notre Dame

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Three individual event victories highlighted the Ole Miss Rebels’ performance at this weekend’s Meyo Invitational, hosted by the University of Notre Dame. 
    The No. 17 Ole Miss men competed against a field of nearly 50 teams that included other nationally ranked teams in No. 7 Minnesota, No. 8 Indiana, No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 22 Oklahoma, while top-25 women’s teams include No. 17 Indiana State, No. 18 Baylor and No. 21 South Carolina. 
    Morris Kersh claimed the men’s triple jump title, while Asia Cooper won the women’s 60 meters and Allegra Wells won the women’s long jump at the 26th edition of the Meyo Invitational. A school record also went down as Haley Cutright shattered the Rebel record in the 3,000 meters – her second school record in as many meets this season. 
    “I was pleased with our efforts on the weekend,” head coach Brian O’Neal said. “We had a lot of PRs and lifetime bests. Anytime you set lifetime bests it means you’re competing at a high level because that is the best you’ve ever done. This is weekend one in the championship phase of our season. I think we started off on the right foot. We’ll get back to training on Monday and get ready for the next step in New Mexico.” 
    Kersh, a senior from Pearl, Miss., leaped to a personal-best 51-8.5 to win the triple jump on Saturday. He moves to No. 6 on the all-time Rebels’ list and will be ranked among the top 10 nationally this year. 
    “Morris had an excellent night,” O’Neal said. “He has battled through injuries the last couple of years, so we developed a plan to make sure that at the end of his season he would be healthy and strong. He bought into that idea, and today we saw a little glimpse of what he can do over the next month. We expect him to be one of the nation’s elite.” 
    Cooper, a freshman by way of Jackson, Miss., turned in her fourth short sprint win in five college meets with another sensational performance. In the 60-meter final, she crossed the finish line first in 7.43, a personal best that ranks her fifth-best in school history. 
    “Asia continues to be a star for us,” O’Neal said. “What she’s done has to be one of the best starts that I can remember in Ole Miss history. I’m really proud of her. The thing that makes her so good is that she loves to compete and she loves to win wearing the Ole Miss jersey.” 
    Wells claimed the long jump title for the Rebels on Friday, highlighting a strong team performance in the event that saw Marci Morman place third and Deonna Walton fifth. 
    Cutright set a school record in the 3,000 meters on Saturday with a time of 9:36.37 to finish eighth, edging out teammate Anne Threlkeld who posted a 9:36.96 to place ninth. 
    “Haley has touched the track two times and produced two school records this season,” O’Neal said. “I’m excited about the start of her career here with us. Anne had a great race as well. She and Haley went back and forth and got the top two times in school history.” 
    Other highlights for the Rebel men included Montez Griffin placing fifth in the 400 meters with a personal-best 47.47 and freshman Onyi Afoaku’s 53-7 in the shot put to move up to No. 3 in the school record books. 
    The women’s distance runners had several personal bests, including three in the 5,000 meters with Katie Breathitt (7:19.51), Amy McCrory (17:26.86) and Kayleigh Skinner (17:28.32) all moving into the top five in school history in the event. 
    Ole Miss will return to action next weekend for the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. 

    Big Orange Concludes Action in Big Apple

    NEW YORK - Competing in the 12th edition of the historic Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York City, the Vol track & field squad closed the nation's biggest and best indoor meet by tying an elusive school record and posting five top-three finishes on Saturday at The Armory.
    "We had our best competition as far as the opponents we were up against, and came out of the meet with several personal records and season-best performances," said Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. Clark. "The men finished fourth overall in the meet. We weren't really watching over the score, but it's very significant due to how high-caliber this meet is. We'll keep focused on the task at hand, which is to keep getting better meet by meet in order to get ready for the championship portion of the season."
    A day after redshirt freshman Austin Whitelaw broke a UT indoor rookie record in the men's 5,000-meter at the New Balance Track Center, freshman pole vaulter Jacob Blankenship tied a legendary UT mark.
    Blankenship, who has won the event in two meets entering the weekend, took first place in the 19-man championship field with a vault of 18-feet, 1/2-inches (5.50m) on his second attempt. That mark ties Olympic silver medalist and former Vol Lawrence Johnson, who reached the height his freshman season in 1993. With that vault, Blankenship currently ranks fourth in the nation, second in the Southeastern Conference and is tied for third in the Vols' all-time indoor pole vault records.
    "It's the third time we've had a freshman record with Jake today, Austin yesterday and Cameron earlier in the season," said Clark. We also go PRs from Kyle (Walter) and Stephen (Derlath) today and that's how we'll keep building. It's a process and we're taking the steps you have to take in order to be successful. We've got the ball rolling and we're going to keep adding to it."
    Junior Chase Brannon took second place in the event after eclipsing a personal-record 17-8.5 (5.40m) on his first attempt. His mark also ranks in the top 10 in the nation this season. Brannon's classmate Tyler Porter also notched a PR in the event, finishing sixth with a vault of 17-0.75, while sophomore Michael Maira placed third in the college section with a career-best vault of 16-4.75.
    "The vaulters really had a solid performance between Jake, Chase and Michael, who had two PRs today," Clark said. "Our throwers were solid this weekend as well and have been consistent throughout several weeks now."
    The Vols also starred on the oval on Saturday, as redshirt freshman Kyle Walter and sophomore Stephen Derlath put forth personal-best efforts to place first and second in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter, respectively. Walter kicked it in gear on the final lap of the 3K to win the event in 8 minutes, 25.05 seconds. Derlath placed second in the 5K, crossing the line in 14:38.16.
    Vol sprinters Jarael Nelvis, Arnez Hardnick and Jamol James also won their 200-meter preliminary heats, with Nelvis posting the fifth-best time to advance to the finals. The junior and Memphis native also finished fifth in the finals of the event with a time of 21.42.
    UT throwers Cameron Brown and Drew Thomas notched top-10 marks in 50-man weight throw field. Brown and Thomas finished sixth and ninth, respectively.
    Senior Nijgia Snapp highlighted the Lady Vols afternoon with a fourth-place finish in a loaded 800m field. Snapp, an All-American in the event, navigated the banked track in 2:07.24. Her mark currently ranks 15th in the nation and third in the SEC. Fellow indoor All-American Kianna Ruff finished seventh in the championship 800m with a time of 2:08.24.
    Junior Amber Zimmerman posted the best mile time of her career on Saturday and the top mark in the event for the Lady Vols the season, finishing sixth at the New Balance Track Center with a blazing time of 4:47.13. Zimmerman currently ranks eighth in the SEC in the event. New York native Alexis Panisse finished 18th in the mile with a time of 4:55.53.
    "On the women's side, it's similar with a meet full of season-best marks. Amber had a great run for a person-best, Kelsey Kane also ran well in the mile - just off her personal-best. These are all stepping stones we have to take to get where we want to go.
    "On Friday, Erin Champion had a couple PRs in the women's pole vault and Jamol also tied his personal-best yesterday in the 60m so we're definitely moving in the right direction," said Clark. "We really just had good movement throughout the entire meet."
    The Big Orange track & field team is back in action next week when it splits up and travels to both Fayetteville, Ark., and Seattle, Wash. The squad will compete in the Tyson Invitational at the University of Arkansas and the Flotrack Husky Classic at the University of Washington.