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    SEC Track & Field Today: Saturday, January 11

    Bulldog Distance Runners Shine On Day Two of Blazer Invite

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Carrying momentum from its success on day one, the Mississippi State track and field team again excelled during Saturday’s competition at the UAB Blazer Invite.

    Highlighted by speedy performances from Bulldog distance runners, MSU capped its first meet of the season at the Birmingham SportsPlex.

    “I’m really proud of our results this weekend,” MSU coach Steve Dudley said. “It’s always great to get back into competition and see where we stand. There’s of course room for improvement, but this was a good start to the season.”

    After clocking a second-place finish (2:52.08) in the 1000-meter run on Friday, freshman Rhianwedd Price donned another commendable race as she finished second in the 800-meter run (2:10.67). Just behind her were teammates Katie Huston (2:13.50) and Emma Neigel (2:17.22), who finished 10th and 11th, respectively.

    In familiar fashion, sophomore Patrick Monaghan crossed the line in second with a time of 1:54.64 in the 800-meter run. Other MSU runners Phillip Johnson (8:55.00) and Carson Britton (9:02.43) finished ninth and 11th, respectively, in the men’s 3000-meter run.

    In the women’s one mile, sophomore Cornelia Griesche posted a time of 5:00.79 to finish third, followed by freshman Lisa Ziegler in fourth (5:04.61). Distance veterans Jodie McGuff (10:18.78) and Carmen Brothers (10:34.35) finished 12th and 16th, respectively, in the 3000-meter run.

    A trio of Lady Bulldog hurdlers qualified for the 60-meter finals on Friday, and continued to dominate the competition on Saturday. After advancing from a field of nearly 40 athletes, Erica Bougard (8.45), Ste’yce McNeil (8.63) and Keisha Wallace (8.73) garnered third, fourth and seventh-place times in the event finals, respectively.

    Also on the track, the men’s 4x400-meter relay team displayed a strong performance to finish seventh out of 26 teams. The quartet’s time of 3:16.74 surpassed Southeastern Conference foes Florida and Tennessee.

    In field events, Rochelle Farquharson leaped 20-02.50 in the long jump to secure a spot in fourth, while Erica Bougard high jumped 5-06.50 for a fourth-place finish, also. Returning to action after missing a season because of an injury, Abigail Dill jumped back onto the scene with a 13th-place leap of 5-04.50 in the high jump.

    Freshman Haley Reynolds made her MSU debut tossing 42-10.75 in the shot put to finish 13th.

    The Bulldogs will now return to Starkville to begin preparation for the Auburn Invitational slated for Jan. 18.

    Florida Track & Field Closes Season-Opener in Birmingham With 13 Event Victories, 10 Meet Records

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The University of Florida men’s and women’s track and field teams proved to be a force at the Gators’ indoor season opener at the UAB Invitational at the Birmingham CrossPlex this weekend, setting the scene for what should be an exciting indoor season for the Orange and Blue after multiple personal-best marks and record-book worthy performances.

    Florida departs the Blazer Invite with 13 event victories, 10 meet records, two complex records, a number of UF top-10 all-time performances, and several of the top marks in the country so far this season from UF’s track and field student-athletes.

    Gamecocks Win 13 at Home Indoor Season Opener

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina showed off its youth at the Gamecock Open #1 on Saturday at the USC Indoor Complex as underclassmen posted eight of the Gamecocks’ 13 wins. The competition, the first of the season for South Carolina, included teams from Bethune Cookman, North Greenville, Claflin and Benedict in addition to other running clubs and unattached competitors.

    Freshman Mollie Williams set a new personal record in the 55-meter hurdles to win her first collegiate race. Williams ran an 8.22 to capture the top-qualifying spot in the semifinals and then lowered her time to an 8.04 to top the field. Redshirt sophomore Sarah Graham (8.24) and Tyler Brockington (8.28) joined Williams in the top three.

    In the men’s 55-meter hurdles, sophomore Dondre Echols set a new personal best with a 7.39 in his second race of the day to take the finals.

    After qualifying in the third spot in the 55-meter dash, junior Eric Winfrey (6.36) edged out senior Chris Royster (6.37) in the finals, as junior Chris Walker (6.43) joined the duo to give the Gamecocks the top three spots in the event finals.

    In the mile run, redshirt freshman Sango Asante pulled away in the final strides to post his first collegiate victory with a time of 4:39.98.

    Freshman Leveshia McCoy got her first year in the Garnet and Black off on the right foot by winning the women’s 400-meter dash with a time of 1:02.45.  

    South Carolina swept the men’s and women’s 800-meter run with junior Kevin Keating taking the men’s section and sophomore Kaleigh Higgins besting the rest of the women’s field.

    With a time of 9:13.40, freshman Greg Lowing won his first collegiate competition in the 3,000-meter run.

    In the pole vault, junior Megan Wall kicked off her campaign with a clearance of 11-11.75 (3.65m) to start the season with a win. Sophomore Austin Eckenroth easily bested the men’s field, posting a top height of 15-11.00 (4.85m).

    Freshman Natasha Dicks collected the women’s long jump win in her first meet as a Gamecock. Dicks posted a mark of 18-00.50 (5.50m) to capture the top spot.

    Upperclassmen shined in the throwing events as redshirt junior Kaysee Sullivan won the shot put with an all-time indoor best throw of 46-03.50 (14.11m). South Carolina also captured the top-two spots in the men’s weight throw thanks to personal best performances from redshirt juniors Andrew Seay and Walker Selby. Seay’s throw of 58-07.50 (17.87m) was the best of the day with Selby taking second with a mark of 56-10.75 (17.34m).

    South Carolina dives into competition next weekend at the Virginia Tech Invitational. The event begins Friday and continues Saturday at Rector Fieldhouse.

    Kendricks’ Record Pole Vault Highlights UAB Blazer Invitational

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Led by Sam Kendricks’ school, meet and facility record pole vault, Ole Miss finished up its first indoor meet of 2014 Saturday at the UAB Blazer Invitational.

    For the weekend, Ole Miss posted three individual event victories and produced a few marks that rank highly in the NCAA early this indoor season.

    “I was proud of our attitude and effort from our team this weekend,” Ole Miss head coach Brian O’Neal said. “We had a good week of practice and finished it off with two days of solid efforts here in Birmingham. We will continue to train and get better and look forward to coming back here next weekend and put a better foot forward at the Auburn Invitational.”

    A junior from Oxford, Miss., Kendricks cleared the bar on every vault he attempted, including the final height of 18-4.75 that broke his own school indoor record and is the top clearance by any American this indoor season. It also broke his own UAB meet and Birmingham CrossPlex records that he established last year.

    “I knew that I was capable,” Kendricks said of his record-setting jump. “The training the past few weeks has been difficult without the rest of my teammates in Oxford. But I got on a pole that I was very confident on. Like I said last year, if you never miss, you always win. And again I started off the year with a miss-less meet. I jumped as high as I wanted to and cut it off there. I was feeling excessively confident because of all my teammates out here today, so I decided to go for the school record and the No. 1 jump in the nation. It was very satisfying.”

    “On the first weekend of 2014 to go to the top of the national leaderboard without missing a bar is impressive,” O’Neal said. “And he wants to be even better. He has high goals and aspirations going forward. I’m really proud of the job that Sam and Coach (Scott) Kendricks have put in to our pole vault program.”

    The Rebels also got an event victory from sophomore Onyi Afoaku, who set a personal best in the shot put with a mark of 55-2 that ranks him third-best in school history. He also placed fourth in the weight throw at 59-10.25.

    The Ole Miss sprinters had a good early-season showing this weekend, as both senior Mike Granger and freshman Jalen Miller posted times that rank among the best in the NCAA. Granger placed second in his section and fourth overall in the 60 meters with a season-best time of 6.69. Unfortunately, he came up limping after a good start in the 200 meters. Miller placed third in his section of the 60 at 6.75 and fourth overall in the 200 meters at 21.62.

    Junior Robert Semien placed second in his section and fourth overall in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.04.

    On Friday, senior Phillip Young made his Rebel debut a good one by winning the triple jump with a mark of 49-2.25.

    On the women’s side, senior Fabia McDonald led the way with good showings in three different events. The All-American finished third in the high jump (5-6.5), seventh in the long jump (19-8) and seventh in her section of the 60-meter hurdle finals (8.77).

    Newcomer Jhorden Hunter had a strong Rebel debut with her fifth-place finish in the 60 meters Section A final at 7.54. Her prelim time of 7.50 on Friday ranks her eighth in the Rebel record books.

    Junior Taryn Hartfield placed sixth in her section of the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.64.

    Freshmen Leanne Zimmer and Mary Alex England posted times of 2:15.43 in the 800 and 10:08.83 in the 3,000, respectively, that rank them top 15 in school history in those events.

    Ole Miss returns to the Birmingham CrossPlex for the third straight meet this coming weekend for the Auburn Invitational.

    Wertman Wins Shot to End UAB Meet

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Tennessee track and field team recorded 17 top-eight finishes Saturday to finish the Blazer Indoor Invitational and wrap up the first weekend of the season.

    Cassie Wertman headlined Tennessee performance on the second day of the event, winning the shot put in a meet record distance of 16.43 meters. It was the fourth individual win for UT on opening weekend, two for the men and two for the women.

    Wertman and the rest of the UT throwing unit put together a sharp start to the indoor season. In a late-night result Friday night, Cameron Brown won the men's weight throw (19.27 meters) and Tavis Bailey came in third (18.92m), both scoring marks surpassing the meet record. Bailey's mark was also a new personal best in the event. Deon McAdoo joined in the effort placing 12th with a distance of 15.72m.

    Bailey also placed second in the shot put with 16.41m.

    Tennessee put together some strong results on the track as well. Two races Saturday featured three Tennessee runners finishing in the top eight: the women's 200m run and the 3000m run.

    In the finals of the 200m, the Lady Vols placed three in the top five. Felicia Brown finished third (24.35), Felecia Majors fourth (24.38) and Emily Yarnell fifth with a personal best of 24.67.

    In the 3000m, Chelsea Blaase led the way for UT with a third-place finish in 9:45.75, picking up where she left off from her All-SEC and all-region cross country season. Fellow freshman Alexis Panisse was fourth (9:57.74) and Emily Williams was seventh (10:09.41).

    Three Lady Vols also made the top 25 in the mile run on Saturday. Amirah Johnson was seventh in 5:10.16, followed by Caroline Duer with a personal best of 5:20.29 for 16th, and Patavia Lowery finished 23rd with a time of 5:26.68.

    On the men's side, there were three top ten performances on the track. Austin Whitelaw clocked in fifth during the men's mile with a time of 4:12.60, seven-hundredths of a second off his career best.

    In Section A of the 60m dash, Jamol James earned seventh place in 6.93 seconds. He was followed closely thereafter by teammate Jarael Nelvis in eighth with a time of 6.95 seconds.Jame was also eighth in the long jump (7.16m).

    The men's pole vaulters kicked off their season Saturday. Jake Blankenship was second (5.40m), Chase Brannon was fifth (5.20m) and Tyler Porter was eighth (5.10).

    Tennessee returns to action with another two-day meet next weekend at the Virginia Tech Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.

    Solid performances highlight Vanderbilt road trip

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Vanderbilt track team brought home two important items from their weekend trip to Birmingham -- -- experience and confidence.

    Competing in the UAB Blazer Invite, the young Commodores held their own against a talented field of roughly 40 teams, and head coach Steve Keith said his team made positive strides throughout the two-day event.

    "All in all, we saw some good things," said Keith. "This was all about getting our feet wet and getting our eyes open (in regard to) the freshmen."

    A large number of Commodores earned top-10 finishes during both days of the Invite to highlight Vanderbilt's solid showing.

    Vanderbilt's Megan Yohe captured second place in Saturday's 5000-meter run with a time of 18:16.19, Brionne Williams took second place in the high jump at 1.74m, and Katherine Delaney took fifth place in the one-mile run with a time of 5:05.05.

    Jennifer Cannon also had a strong showing this weekend, finishing sixth in the finals of the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.70. Cannon was fourth in the preliminaries.

    "Making the finals is a great experience (for her), and that goes a long way," said Keith.

    Vanderbilt's 4x4 relay team took seventh place with a time of 3:50.71.

    Vanderbilt's Sarah Goodale had a busy -- and productive -- weekend.

    She finished 19th (at 1:18.84) in the 500-meter dash, took 50th in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.46 and was 51st in the shot put at 9.89m.

    Cannon was 53rd in the shot put at 9.79m.

    Other highlights for Vanderbilt included during the weekend included Courtney Clayton finishing fifth in the 500-meter dash with a time of 1:16.80; Sarah Bell taking fifth in the pole vault by clearing 3.95m and Simone Charley taking fourth in the triple jump (12.22m).

    Keith said this weekend's event helped the Commodores move closer to where they want to be. "Now it's time for us to flip the switch and get more in the competitive frame of mind," he said.

    Vanderbilt is back in action next weekend at the Auburn Invitational, and then returns home to host its second meet in the school's new multi-purpose facility on Jan. 24-25.

    "(The Invite) gives us a lot to work on and talk about going into next weekend," Keith said.