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86th Texas Relays features large Texas A&M contingent

March 27, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

AUSTIN – Texas A&M’s track and field battalion travels to Mike A. Myers Stadium this weekend for the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays where the Aggies are scheduled to compete in 11 relay events, seven for the men and four for the women, along with multiple individual running and field events.

Over the span of the past five years A&M has accumulated a total of 38 victories, including 17 relay titles, at the Texas Relays.

This weekend the Aggie men will field relay teams in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800, 4x1500, sprint medley and distance medley. The A&M women have relay squads in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and distance medley.

“We kind of have a goal to spread ourselves out in a number of events, yet we also want to hit some things really good,” noted Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “This is a very competitive meet and one that sets some good tempos for your team.

“They have a great crowd with lots and lots of people in the stadium. It’s a great meet, and it has that championship kind of atmosphere about it. As a coach you can use this meet to set your athletes up to be prepared and at their best for this time of the season against some great competition.”

The Aggies will enter the meet as defending champions in three relay events – the men’s 4x200, 4x800 and distance medley. Donique’ Flemings returns as an individual Texas Relays champions in the 100 hurdles, where she won with a wind-aided 12.88, as well as Chelsea Utley in the women’s B high jump.

Sam Humphreys, a two-time champion in the Texas Relays javelin as a freshman (245-9) and sophomore (251-9), finished second a year ago. Now in his senior year, currently the US and collegiate leader with an opening season mark of 267-1 (81.40), Humphreys seeks a third Relays title when he throws on Friday at 11:30 a.m.

Aggie frosh Shelbi Vaughan returns to the site where she first set a national high school discus record in winning the 2012 Texas Relays high school division with a toss of 191-6 and then later in the season defended her Texas State 5A title with a 187-10 mark. Vaughan will compete twice on Friday, at 10 a.m. in the shot put and then at 4 p.m. in the discus.

“We are taking around 65 athletes to the Texas Relays and about 55 of them are from Texas high schools,” said Henry. “There is a great feeling about their state and competing there. It’s a fun competition and our athletes really get excited about competing at this type of meet.”

Action begins early Wednesday for a pair of Aggies in the heptathlon. Jena Hemann and Annie Kunz will represent A&M in the seven-event discipline that starts at 10:30 a.m. Last season Hemann scored 5,300 points to place eighth while Kunz tallied 5,174 points for 12th place amid a field of 21 competitors. They went on to place fifth and sixth, respectively, at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.

Recently, Hemann and Kunz finished third and fifth in the five-event pentathlon during the SEC Indoor Championships as they each bettered the Aggie school record. Hemann scored 4,017 points while Kunz totaled 3,994.

As the heptathlon continues at 11 a.m. on Thursday a total of 19 Aggies will be in action during the second day of the Texas Relays. Field event competitors for A&M include Casey Strong (hammer), Dustin Phillips and Chase Wolfle (pole vault) and Krystyn Bradley (javelin).

A trio of Aggies – Greg Coleman, Aikan Graham and Kenneth Minkah – will compete in the men’s 400 hurdle prelims on Thursday while Jessica Laseak is the lone A&M entry in the women’s 400 hurdles.

Another set of three athletes – Grace Fletcher, Amanda Jenkins and Hillary Montgomery – race in the 1,500 meters. In longer distance races Gabby Salazar is entered in the 5,000 while Tara Upshaw is entered in the 10,000.

A&M will also contest the 4 x 800 relay on Thursday with the foursome of James Bonn, Cameron Thornton, Hector Hernandez and Henry Lelei. The Aggies defended their title last season while setting a meet and school record of 7:15.99.

Friday’s morning session, starting at 9:30 a.m., is chock full of Aggies in action. Jean Deason and Kendall Munoz throw in the women’s javelin to start off the day. Then morning prelims take center stage with the men and women 4x100 relays, along with 100/110 hurdles and 100 meters followed by the women’s 4x400 relays. Evening relays on Friday include the sprint medley, distance medley and 4 x 1500.

Field events on Friday will include Jonathan Turner (long jump B), Utley (high jump B), Jennifer Edwards and Shelbi Vaughan (shot put B), Humphreys and Devin Bogert (javelin), a triple jump trio of Haley Gooch, Melissa Mays and Jordan Wilson in the B division, Dave Brown (men’s triple jump B), Ben Skrla (discus B), Devion Harris (high jump B), LaQue Moen-Davis (triple jump and long jump), Jill Hydrick and Vaughan (discus), and Brea Garrett (shot put).

Saturday’s primary action will include sprint relays starting at noon along with finals of the 100, 100/110 hurdles and Dalton Rowan in the men’s discus.

Annie Kunz, Jena Hemann currently among top five in heptathlon

An impressive first day of marks in the heptathlon have the Aggie tandem of Annie Kunz and Jena Hemann in solid position at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. Kunz is currently third with 3,471 points while Hemann sits in fifth place with 3,344.

Amid a morning with temperatures in the mid-40s along with a steady wind out of the south, Kunz and Hemann opened the seven-event competition with career best times in the 100 hurdles. Improvements over their marks from last year’s Texas Relays followed in the high jump, shot put and 200 meters.

SEC athletes currently hold five of the first six positions in the Texas Relays heptathlon, which started with 22 entries.

Mississippi State’s Erica Bougard leads with 3,570 points followed by Arkansas’ Makeba Alcide with 3,480 points. Following Kunz is Lindsay Vollmer of Kansas with 3,356 points while Florida’s Lorraine Graham trails Hemann with 3,285 points.

Last season Kunz was stationed in third place (3,316 points) after day one while Hemann was 13th (3,121 points). The second day events – long jump, javelin and 800 meters – turned their fortunes around as Hemann finished eighth with Kunz 12th in the competition.

Kunz won her section of the 100 hurdles in 13.85 seconds while Hemann finished second in another heat with a 14.44. The PR for Kunz scored 1,000 points while Hemann generated 917 points.

Both athletes cleared 5-7.75 (1.72) in the high jump for 879 points. In the shot put Hemann produced a mark of 41-9.25 (12.73) for 709 points while Kunz turned in a 39-11.25 (12.17).

With an aiding 4.4 wind in the 200 meters Kunz won her heat in 24.64 to add 920 more points to her total. Hemann finished third in the heat with a 25.12 for 876 points.

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