EUGENE – Four current Aggies and four incoming Texas A&M freshmen will compete in the USATF Junior Championships held at Hayward Field this Saturday and Sunday, July 5-6. The competition for under-20 year old athletes serves as the selection meet for the United States team that will compete in the IAAF World Junior Championships held in the same venue from July 22-27.
Representing Texas A&M in the USATF Junior Championships are Shamier Little (400 hurdles), Jeffrey Prothro (triple jump), Cameron Villarreal (1,500m) and Austin Wells (10,000m). Athletes in the meet who join the Aggie program this fall include Ebony Crear (100 hurdles, 400 hurdles), Emily Gunderson (pole vault), Sara-Kathryn Stevens (pole vault) and Audie Wyatt (pole vault).
Little returns to the venue on the University of Oregon campus where she won the NCAA title in the 400 hurdles in June with a school record of 55.07 seconds as the Aggie women captured the team championship. That mark is second fastest all time on the U.S. Junior list and ranks fifth best on the all-time world junior list.
Little has led the world junior list in 2014 since winning the Stanford Invitational with a 57.58 in early April. Little set her first PR this season with a 56.55 to win the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State and improved her time twice during the SEC Championships, clocking 56.34 in the prelims and 56.01 for third place in the final.
During the NCAA West preliminary round Little posted her first sub 56 second time with a 55.98. Then she improved to 55.58 in the semifinal of the NCAA Championships in Eugene. In the final Little bettered the A&M school record of 55.24 set by Rosa Jolivet in 1998 to defeat SEC champion Kendra Harrison of Kentucky, 55.07 to 55.55.
Little became just the third freshman to win the NCAA 400 hurdle title and the first since 2002, with the first time occurring in 1984.
The women’s 400 hurdle prelim for Little and Crear is the first event involving Aggies at the USATF Junior meet on Saturday as the prelims start at 4:30 p.m. (CT). Crear will also run in the 100 hurdles with a prelim at 6:55 p.m. Wyatt competes in the men’s pole vault, which starts at 6 p.m.
Villarreal, who placed fourth in the SEC Championship 5,000m with a PR of 14:16.79 this season, will compete in the 1,500m prelim on Saturday at 8:50 p.m. Villarreal set a career best of 3:46.96 at the LSU Invitational after running a best of 4:05.01 in the mile at the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State. Villarreal is No. 10 on the Aggie all-time list in the 1,500 and No. 11 in the 5,000.
Prothro is the first Aggie competitor on Sunday as the triple jump starts at 4:30 p.m. Prothro placed ninth in the SEC triple jump and qualified for the NCAA West preliminary round. His season best mark of 50-2.75 (15.31) placed him fifth at the Stanford Invitational.
The women’s pole vault, which includes Gunderson and Stevens, begins at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. The final in the 100 hurdles is set for 6:15 p.m. with the 400 hurdle final at 7:10 p.m. and the 1,500 final scheduled for 7:20 p.m.
Wells, who set a pair of 10k career best times this season, will run in the 10,000 meters at 8:45 p.m. Wells clocked a best of 29:53.90 at the Stanford Invitational and then improved to 29:52.14 for third place at the SEC Championships. Wells currently is the No. 5 performer with the No. 8 performance on the Aggie all-time list in the 10,000.