Freshman vaulters shine at Auburn Invitational
At the end of the 2012 season, Auburn track and field head coach Ralph Spry made a promise to Auburn after watching his team fall short at the NCAA Outdoor Championship.
"We will be back next year with a bigger group, and we will add more firepower," Spry said. "This group that scored this year will all return in 2013. When you have a year under your belt with this type of experience, it only benefits as you come back for another year.
"We are going to learn from this and find a way to get over the hump and come back with a vengeance."
Two weeks into the indoor track season, Auburn has shown it has at least some of the the freshman firepower Spry sought.
Freshman pole vaulter Larissa Debich opened the 2013 season by breaking the school record with a vault of 3.7 meters at the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener Saturday, Jan.12.
At the Auburn Indoor Invitational Saturday, Jan. 19, Debich matched that record.
Fellow freshman women's pole vaulter Jessie Johnson came into Auburn ranked the No. 1 recruit in her event, according to Spry.
Although Johnson may have been overshadowed the first meet, she tied Debich's school record mark at the Auburn Inviatational.
Senior high jumper Maya Pressley has already noticed the impact of Auburn's cubs.
"I think the freshman have a lot of potential," Pressley said. "We did lose a lot of (women) seniors, but the freshmen are up and coming, so we do have the opportunity to shock and surprise the conference as well. (There's) a lot of raw talent."
For Johnson and Debich, potential is an understatement.
Johnson and Debich have already broken Hannah Johnson's 1998 record of 3.6 meters.
That's no where near the pair's own personal records.
Debich recorded a Pennsylvania state record 3.97 meter vault in high school, and Johnson's 4.11 meters in high school was the second best junior mark in the country and the best among high schoolers.
Due to the numerous Olympians training daily on the Plains, Auburn track has a championship culture to it.
Athletes and coaches, present and past, have competed on the world stage and senior sprinter Marcus Rowland said that leadership is crucial for the youngsters.
"I see a lot of potential I think one of the biggest privileges they have is they get to see the upperclassmen set the bar and show great leadership," Rowland said. "Outside the team, it's definitely the coaching staff, Coach Spry and Coach Richardson, Clayton, those guys, they've had (all the Olympians) and have led them on to do great things.
All our coaches are very passionate. I think with a passionate coach comes a passionate athlete."
The pair will look to continue its record-breaking streak when the Tigers compete in the Husker Invitational at the University of Nebraska from Friday, Feb. 1-2.