Tharp breaks AU record, posts nation’s top 110m hurdles time at SEC Outdoors


GAINESVILLE, Florida—Auburn freshman Ja'Kobe Tharp broke a 16-year-old school record and ran the nation's top time during qualifying for the men's 110m hurdles Friday to highlight Auburn track and field's day two performance at the SEC Outdoor championships Friday.

The rookie from Basking Ridge, New Jersey sailed over the 10 barriers to win his heat and break Auburn SEC and NCAA Champion Ty Atkins' school record of 13.25 set during the 2008 NCAA Outdoor championships. Tharp's time also was good enough to earn him a spot at the US Olympic Trials later this summer in Eugene, Oregon.

Auburn's sprint units continued to shine as freshman Kanyisola Ajayi and junior Favour Ashe advanced in the men's 100m after finishing third and four respectively in prelims. Ajayi, the SEC Indoor champion at 60m crossed in a lifetime-best 10.13 to win the second heat, while Ashe, the outdoor champion in the event two years ago also posted a 10.13 to win the fourth heat. 

Sophomore Michael May built off a strong first day in the men's decathlon with another outstanding outing on the last day of competition to garner bronze with a personal-best score of 7559 points, moving him into sixth on the school's performers list. On Friday, May equaled a PR in the discus throw while establishing new lifetime bests in the pole vault and 1500m, recording the top time of all competitors in the last event.

The men's distance duo of Cooper Atkins and Max Hardin both qualified for Saturday's finals in the men's 1500m during preliminary action. Atkins was second in the first heat, crossing in 3:47.01, while Hardin posted a 3:46.20 in the third and fastest heat to advance. It marks the first time in 23 years that Auburn advanced a pair into the finals of the men's 1500m at SECs.

Sophomore thrower Matthew Rueff gave Auburn points in the men's shot put at he finished eighth with a toss of 18.27m/59-11.25. It was the first time a Tiger male scored in the event at SECs since Stephen Saenz was the runner up in 2014.

In the women's heptathlon, sophomore Elise Heddens finished eight with 4973 points, just 18 shy of her personal best set earlier this year. The Park City, Utah, native recorded new bests in the javelin throw (24.09m/79-0) and 800m (2:21.77) to give Auburn its fourth scorer in the last five conference meets in the event.

Freshman thrower Marley Raikiwasa continued her stellar debut season, breaking her own rookie school mark in the women's shot put with a throw of 16.85m/55-3, to finish eighth.

Sophomore Alyssa Quinones-Mixon and junior Rhiannon Held picked up points for the Tigers in the pole vault as they each cleared 4.18m/13-8.5. Quinones-Mixon finished fourth overall with fewer misses, while Held was seventh. It was the best showing by a duo of AU vaulters at the league meet since 1998 and the best overall finish since Jessie Johnson was third in 2016.

The final day of the SEC championships will begin at 2 p.m. ET with the men's discus throw finals.

SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships – Day 2 Results
James G. Pressley Stadium at Percy Beard Track – Gainesville, Florida
May 10, 2024

 Men's Decathlon
3. Michael May                                    7559 pts
110m Hurdles                                          14.69
Discus Throw                            37.69m/123-8
Pole Vault                                       4.50m/14-9
Javelin Throw                            48.23m/158-3
1500m                                                   4:28.75

Men's Shot Put
8. Matthew Rueff                 18.27m/59-11.25
14. Grant Griffin                     16.83m/55-2.75

Men's 110m Hurdles Prelims
1. Ja'Kobe Tharp (Q, SR)                          13.24

Men's 1500m Prelims
5. Cooper Atkins (Q)                             3:47.01
7. Max Hardin (Q)                                 3:46.20
21. Nickson Chebii                                3:50.54
22. Ryan Kinnane                                  3:40.65

Men's 100m Prelims
3. Kanyinsola Ajayi (Q)                            10.13
4. Favour Ashe (Q)                                   10.13
21. Azeem Fahmi                                      10.36

Men's 400m Prelims
24. LeBron Bessick                                   46.80
34. Luke Roberts                                      49.36

Women's Heptathlon
8. Elise Heddens                                  4973 pts
Long Jump                              5.44m/17-10.25
Javelin Throw                              24.09m/79-0
800m                                                      2:21.77

Paula Grauvogel                                         DNF
Long Jump                                                   DNS
Javelin Throw                                             DNS
800m                                                           DNS

Women's Pole Vault
4. Alyssa Quinones-Mixon         4.18m/13-8.5
7. Rhiannon Held                        4.18m/13-8.5
Brooke Walden                                             NH
Lexie Leineweber                                         NH

Women's Long Jump
9. Shonedra Richardson          6.15m/20-1.75
13. Amy Warren                     5.78m/18-11.75

Women's Shot Put
8. Marley Raikiwasa (FSR)         16.85m/55-3
11. Megan Hague                     16.60m/54-5.5

Women's 100m Hurdles Prelims
6. Denae Nembhard (Q)                           13.07
19. Ashanti Harvey                                   13.76

Women's 1500m Prelims
24. Gene Coetzee                                   4:31.96
25. Samantha Rogers                            4:32.86

Women's 400m Prelims
15. Vimbayi Maisvorewa                         52.66
17. Debra Oke                                           53.22

Women's 100m Prelims
14. Chante Clinkscale                               11.53

(Q) – Qualified for finals
(SR) – School Record
(FRS) – Freshman School Record