Brown And Gaither Earn All-America Honors In The 200m Race At NCAA Indoors
March 14, 2014
Aaron Brown and Tynia Gaither both took sixth in their respective 200m finals to earn All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships hosted by New Mexico at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque, N.M. today (March 14). They both earned three points for USC in the men's and women's team competition, and Akawkaw Ndipagbor bettered her school indoor 400m record to advance to tomorrow's finals.
"Today we had some decent performances, we had a decent day overall," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. " Tynia (Gaither) ended up being an All-American in the 200m, Jessica (Davis) PR'd twice, so you can't complain about that. I was a little disappointed with Lauren (Blackburn). She hit hurdle three and just couldn't recover. You have to focus under pressure. Aaron (Brown) didn't run his prelims the way he needed to, to earn a preferred lane in the final. The key with his stature in height, is it is very, very difficult to run fast out of lane three and the rest of the field had the advantage. He ran really well in the final, but it was just hard in lane three. I expected a little more out of BeeJay (Lee), but I think he learned some things about what it takes to compete at a high level consistently. Aleec (Harris) looked really good and should be back for the final. I'm looking forward to tomorrow with the men's 60m HH final. Coco (Ndipagbor) PR'd and ran like a monster today. I was so proud of Coco. She embodies what we came here to do. Go all out and leave everything on the track, so we'll be looking forward to watching her as an All-American tomorrow. Also, the 4x400m relay gets to step on the track, so it will be a nice fun day tomorrow."
Senior Aleec Harris was the first Trojan on the track and he ran in the sixth lane in the first heat of the men's 60m HH with the top two finishers from each heat and the next four fastest finishers moving on to tomorrow's finals. He cruised into the finals with a time of 7.63, second in his heat and fourth among the qualifiers.
Senior Lauren Blackburn was next in the third lane in the second heat of the women's 60m HH. She was looking strong late in the race, but clipped the third hurdle and finished with a time of 8.52. She would have had to PR's to advance to the finals, as the eighth finalist had a time of 8.13 and her best is 8.19 set in winning the MPSF 60 hurdles title.
Junior Akawkaw Ndipagbor ran in the fourth and final heat of the women's 400m dash with the top eight times of the heats advancing to tomorrow's two-heat finals. Entering her race she would have to go under 52.85 to advance to the finals. No problem for Ndipagbor as she set a PR and bettered her school record with a time of 52.47 to win her heat and enter the finals with the fifth-fastest time.
The 60m dash had the same requirements to advance to tomorrow's finals, top two in your heat or one of the next four fastest times. Junior BeeJay Lee ran in the sixth lane of the first heat and senior Aaron Brown in the first lane of the second heat. Lee had a time of 6.66 to finish sixth in his heat and 11th overall. Brown then ran 6.60 (6.591) to place third in his heat and onto the finals with the fifth-fastest qualifier.
Junior Jessica Davis in the women's 60m dash, like Brown earlier in the men's race, was running in the first lane of the second heat. Davis was right in the thick of the race until the very end and finished with a PR of 7.30, but that time was only good for 5th in her heat and 11th overall, .001 out of 10th place. The final qualifier (8th) had a time of 7.28.
The final event of the night for the Trojans was the 200m dash. The eight fastest times of the four heats would advance to a two-heat final later in the night. Brown was in the third lane of the third heat which is a distinct disadvantage on this track with the lane preferences going 5, 6, 4 and 3. He took second in his heat with a time of 20.76 and seventh overall to advance to the finals.
He again drew the tough third lane in the first heat of the two-heat finals. Brown was third in his heat and sixth overall with a time of 20.64 to earn USC its first three points in the team competition. Brown earned his sixth first team All-America honors. The first and second place finishers, Diondre Batson of Alabama (20.32) and Dedrick Dukes of Florida (20.34) respectively, posted the sixth and seventh fastest times all-time by an NCAA runner indoors.
For the women's 200m race, redshirt sophomore Tynia Gaither had drawn the sixth lane in the second heat and Davis the fifth lane in the third heat. Gaither was second in her heat with a PR of 23.25 and finished seventh overall to advance to the finals. Davis won her heat with a PR of 23.32, but finished in ninth place, the first person out of the finals.
Gaither also drew the third lane, but in the second heat for the women's 200m final. She took third in her heat and sixth overall with a time of 23.41 to earn USC three points in the team competition and become a first team All-American for the first time.
In action tomorrow for USC will be Brown in the men's 60m final, Harris in the men's 60m HH final and Ndipagbor in the women's 400m final, as well as the women's 4x400m relay team of Ndipagbor, junior Vanessa Jones, senior Ashley Liverpool and sophomore Jaide Stepter.