PHILADELPHIA – A pair of victories highlighted the Aggies second day at the Penn Relays in front of 38,135 fans at Franklin Field. The Texas A&M women won the 4x100 relay while LaQue Moen-Davis captured the triple jump.
Qualifying events for the Aggies included the women running the fastest prelim time ever in the 4x200 at Penn with a 1:30.61, which is the fifth fastest time in school history, while the A&M men had the top qualifying times in the 4x200 and 4x400 with times of 1:20.67 and 3:05.06. A miscue for the Aggie men in the 4x100 had them missing the Championship of America final.
For the sixth consecutive year the Texas A&M women won the 4x100 Championship of America at the Penn Relays. The crew of Jennifer Madu, Ashton Purvis, Kamaria Brown and Olivia Ekponé clocked a 43.11 collegiate leading time for 2014 that also currently ranks second fastest in the world.
“The ladies looked exceptional today running 43.11 and that’s what we felt like they were capable of doing right now,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “Maybe on a good day we are going to run a little faster. They just need a little more time to jell together. But they are starting to do some things indicating they are going to run faster.”
The Aggies defeated a talented field that included Oregon (43.33), UTech (43.66), Texas (43.95), LSU (44.41), Auburn (44.69), East Carolina (45.29) and Hampton (46.36). Texas A&M set a record last year as the first team in Penn Relays history to claim five consecutive titles and they added another victory to that streak.
“I’m very excited, the atmosphere is amazing,” noted Ekponé. “I was just looking forward to coming out here and running with these ladies. I’m so excited to be part of the sixth title. We ran a really great time for the environment and weather.”
Brown added: “It’s a great feeling to come back to the Penn Relays and win the 4x1 once again. Today we made sure everyone ran through their zones, got the exchange and everything came out perfect. It’s coming together at a great time.”
With a time of 43.11 the Aggies posted the ninth fastest time at the Penn Relays. Among the top 12 times ever at Penn, A&M now has the No. 2 (42.69 - 2008), No. 6 (43.05 - 2013), No. 7 (43.09 - 2010), No. 8 (43.10 – 2009), No. 9 (43.11 – 2014), No. 10 (43.13 – 2010 prelims), and No. 11 (43.24 – 2011) marks. On the Aggie all-time list the 43.11 ranks No. 13.
“It feels great to lead off a great group of ladies,” said Madu. “I’m so excited we were able to come out here and get it done. I was nervous, especially after they called us up first, but once the gun went off I just tried to execute and take care of business.”
Purvis added: “It’s great to come out with a win. We are more confident with this line-up now, and we were able to run a fast time today.”
LaQue Moen-Davis became the first Aggie to win the women’s triple jump at the Penn Relays as her mark of 44-1.5 (13.45) is the ninth best performance at the historic meet. Moen-Davis, who won the long jump as a freshman at Penn a year ago, improved on her runner-up performance from 2013 in the triple jump with a solid series of jumps.
“The series went pretty well, it was off to a slow start then I got in sync with the board and my rhythm,” stated Moen-Davis. “I liked the weather, especially if it’s a little cool. It’s fun to come back here and win a different event. I love the environment at the Penn Relays. There are good athletes to compete against and there’s also a big audience to compete in front of. So I definitely like the stage here at Penn Relays.”
The series for Moen-Davis included marks of 41-1.75 (12.54), 42-10.25 (13.06), 43-9.25 (13.35), 42-2.25 (12.86), 44-1.5 (13.45) and 42-11.75 (13.10). Runner-up to Moen-Davis was Marshay Ryan of Auburn with a 43-0.25 while third place went to Marshall’s Jasia Richardson at 42-11.75.
“LaQue winning the triple jump was a big one for her today at 44-1,” said Henry. “That’s a very good jump for her right now and she beat a great field.”
Another three Aggies in the triple jump included Melissa Mays in ninth place (41-2.5), Jordan Wilson in 12th place (39-10.75) and Haley Gooch in 13th (38-11).
In the sprint medley the Aggie men placed fourth in their section with a time of 3:20.70 and placed fifth overall when LSU won the second section in 3:17.96. The A&M foursome included Deon Hickey, Jermaine Davis, Carlyle Roudette and Hector Hernandez (1:49.75). Penn State won the first section, placing second overall with a 3:18.39 with Mississippi State third at 3:18.41 and Middle Tennessee fourth with a 3:18.72.
The men’s distance medley relay posted a time of 9:48.32 for 10th place. The Aggies ran with the foursome of Cameron Villarreal (2:59.08), Gregory Coleman (46.76), Josh Hernandez (1:50.28) and Isaac Spencer (4:12.22). A&M was in 10th place at each exchange of the baton.
A time of 3:57.47 placed the Aggie women 14th in the sprint medley as they ran with a quartet of Purvis, Janeil Bellille, Ibukun Mayungbe (53.8) and Aliese Hyde (2:15.04). In the women’s 4x1500 the Aggies did not finish with the line-up of Grace Fletcher, Hillary Montgomery, Ashley Chamberlain and Katie Willard. A&M was one of three teams that did not finish. The other two squads were Indiana and Connecticut.
An hour after the 4x100 relay victory for the Aggie women they were back on the track for 4x200 qualifying prelims. Texas A&M dominated with a 1:30.61, which is the fastest prelim time ever recorded at the Penn Relays. The Aggie foursome included Aaliyah Brown, Shamier Little, Olivie Ekpone and Kamaria Brown.
Runner-up to A&M in the 4x200 heat was Columbia at 1:35.96. Joining the Aggies in Saturday’s Championship of America final were Texas (1:33.43), South Carolina (1:33.45), Connecticut (1:34.55), G.C. Foster (1:34.65), Penn State (1:34.76), East Carolina (1:34.82) and Rutgers (1:35.15).
The Aggies have won the 4x200 final at the Penn Relays five of the past six years and have recorded four of the fastest times ever at Penn, including the collegiate record of 1:29.42 set in 2010. The 1:30.61 run in the prelims ranks seventh on the Penn Relays top 10 list.
Qualifying relay races for the men initially included a disqualification in the 4x200 for running on the line. After an appeal the disqualification was overturned.
The 1:20.67 by A&M, which is third fastest in school history, led qualifying into the Championship of America final as the Aggie foursome included Carlyle Roudette, Prezel Hardy, Jr., Shavez Hart and Deon Lendore.
“We were kind of frustrated when they said we were disqualified because we didn’t know why,” said Lendore. “After coach told us we were back in then we were happy. Now we are looking forward to another final Saturday. I always wanted to be part of the 4x2, so I’m happy coach put me in it at this meet. It’s a great meet to run fast.”
Teams that advanced to the main final of the 4x200 were UTech (1:21.61), LSU (1:21.90), St. Augustine’s (1:23.01), Pittsburgh (1:23.29), Indiana Tech (1:23.73), Middle Tennessee (1:23.77), and South Carolina (1:23.95).
The Aggie 4x400 unit included Gregory Coleman (47.6), Deon Hickey (47.1), Roudette (45.8) and Lendore (44.6). They posted a leading time of 3:05.06 in a competitive first heat that included Texas (3:05.86), UTech (3:06.03), Penn State (3:08.57) and Texas Tech (3:09.27).
Roudette moved the Aggies from fourth to first on his third leg carry and Lendore handled the challenge from Texas and UTech with another solid anchor leg.
Advancing to the Championship of America final in the 4x400 were LSU (3:05.64), Texas, UTech, Pittsburgh (3:07.67), Middle Tennessee (3:07.79), North Carolina (3:08.08) and Oregon (3:08.35).
In the men’s 4x100 prelims the Aggies struggled with the final handoff. Lendore passed a pair of teams on the anchor leg, but A&M finished second in the prelim race with a 40.64 that ranked 11th overall and placed the Aggies in the college final in Saturday. The sprint relay included Hardy, Hart, Michael Bryan and Lendore.
“I didn’t want to give up in the 4x1 even though we had a mistake,” said Lendore. “So I tried my best to finish strong. We didn’t make the Championship of America but it’s okay. We will look forward and try not to let it affect us tomorrow.”
The field advancing to the Championship of America 4x100 includes UTech (39.19), LSU (39.80), St. Augustine’s (39.93), Texas (40.00), Auburn (40.18), Houston (40.34), East Carolina (40.50) and UWI Mona (40.54).
“In the men’s 4x1 Michael Bryan hurt something and we just couldn’t do what we are capable of doing out here today,” Henry said. “We had to stop and turn around to get the baton to our anchor leg.”
Lendore ended up anchoring three relays for A&M when he was called into action in the 4x200 to replace Bryan.
“It wasn’t the plan for me to anchor three relays today,” explained Lendore. “I told coach I would be able to do it when they needed me for the 4x2. It was fun doing it all for the team. I ran comfortable in the 4x4, so I know there is a lot left still in me.”
Henry noted: “We switched our entire order in the 4x200, starting Carlyle out of the blocks instead of having him anchor.”
Individual event qualifying for the Aggies had three moving on to Saturday finals. Defending champion Wayne Davis II lead the 110 hurdles prelims with a 13.70 (wind 1.6) over Syracuse’s Donald Pollitt (13.77) and Houston’s Isaac Williams (13.85).
In the women’s 100 prelims defending champion Olivia Ekpone won her heat in 11.56 (wind 1.9), which was the second fastest time behind an 11.48 for Texas Tech’s Cierra White. A&M’s Aaliyah Brown won the third heat in 11.88 (1.4 wind) to make the final as well.