BATON ROUGE – An impressive day of performances had the Aggie track and field team accumulating a total of 23 victories during the LSU Alumni Gold Invitational on sunny, yet windy Saturday.
Texas A&M, with the men’s squad ranked No. 1 nationally and the women’s team ranked No. 2, registered 13 overall wins on the day while turning in the best collegiate finish in five events and claimed five B division victories. The Aggies also had eight runner-up performances.
In his first open race of the outdoor season Deon Lendore won the 400 meters in a collegiate leading 45.00 seconds, lowering his career best of 45.13 from his Big 12 win a year ago. It’s the second fastest time in the world this season, behind a 44.72 from Kirani James of Grenada, and is No. 6 on the Aggie all-time list.
Lendore bettered a field that included Stephon Pamilton of Illinois (46.00), LSU alum Armanti Hayes (46.29), Darrell Bush of LSU (46.71), Juan Green of Illinois and Alabama’s Quincy Smith (46.72). Two more Aggies in the race included Ricky Babineaux (46.93) and Aldrich Bailey, Jr. (47.39), who placed seventh and eighth.
“Since this was my first race over 400 outdoors I wanted to execute a good race,” said Lendore. “I had a good race plan and it came out well. I was rewarded with a good time from the race I ran.
“I thought the race was going to be a little harder, but it felt great and was somewhat easy. I didn’t have many errors or complaints, so I’m happy and looking forward to the next one.”
The previous collegiate best in the 400 for the 2013 outdoor season was a 45.54 by Bryshon Nellum of USC during the Florida Relays in early April. Lendore chopped 0.54 off that mark in setting his career best as he moves to No. 9 on the Trinidad & Tobago all-time list.
Baton Rouge native Kamaria Brown produced the second fastest time in the world this season over 200 meters, under any conditions, as her wind-aided 22.47 (2.5 wind) led a crew of Aggie sprinters.
Ashton Purvis was the second best collegian in the women’s 200 and third overall with a 23.16 while Ashley Collier (23.20w) and Olivia Ekpone (23.40w) followed with solid times.
The men’s 200 had a huge head wind as Ameer Webb won with a time of 20.59 into a -3.6 wind. Adjusting for the wind would have produced a 20.32 PR for Webb. Louisiana Tech’s Trey Hadnot had an edge on Webb coming of the curve, but Webb charged down the homestretch for the victory as Hadnot finished second in 20.78.
“I’m happy with my time,” said Webb. “These races tend to feel like they are back-to-back. So, I had to rally a little bit of strength towards the end just to win the race. The result was a good time into a nasty wind.”
In the men’s 4x100 the Aggies posted a winning time of 39.02 over the Tiger Olympians (39.16), with 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist Richard Thompson on the anchor leg, as well as a team from Canada (39.18) and LSU (39.24). Running for A&M were Webb, Bailey, Jr., Michael Bryan and Prezel Hardy, Jr.
Webb and Hardy later finished second and third, running in separate heats, in the 100 meters. Webb clocked 10.27 (1.2 wind) in a close finish with Alabama’s Diondre Batson (10.26) and LSU’s Aaron Ernest (10.35). Hardy claimed the second heat in 10.30 (2.3 wind) to placed third overall.
“In the 100 I’m a little bitter,” noted Webb. “I broke my posture at the end of the race and it cost me the win. But it’s a good thing since I know what I did. Next time I’ll know what to do.”
The A&M women cruised to a 43.64 victory over a 43.95 from LSU with Canada third in 44.00. The Aggie relay consisted of LaKeidra Stewart, Purvis, Brown and Collier. A second A&M group won the second heat in 44.87 and placed fourth overall with a foursome of India Daniels, Olivia Ekponé, Jennifer Madu and Ibukun Mayungbe.
In the women’s 100 Daniels placed third overall and was the second best collegian with an 11.44 (1.8) career best that makes her No. 12 on the A&M all-time list. LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan won the race in 11.18 with professional Chelsea Hayes second in 11.34. Daniels finished ahead of teammate Madu, who ran 11.53.
Sophie Blake set a career best of 4:24.39 to win the 1,500 over a 4:28.42 from Meropi Panagiotou of Alabama and a 4:29.92 by Tessni Carruthers of Nicholls State. Blake’s time ranks No. 4 on the Aggie all-time list with the No. 6 performance.
Another impressive middle distance race came from Aggie frosh Hector Hernandez, who won the 800 in a career best of 1:49.35, which is No. 11 on the A&M all-time list. Henry Lelei placed second in the race with a 1:50.05 while Josh Hernandez ran 1:50.67 for fourth.
Aliese Hyde recorded a career best of 2:07.53 in the women’s 800 to place seventh and move to No. 3 on the Aggie all-time list. LSU’s Natoya Goule set a stadium record with a 2:00.76 win.
Juan Blanco finished as the top collegian in the men’s 1500 as his time of 3:49.68 topped the 3:49.79 by Paul Skirt of Louisiana Tech with A&M’s tandem of MacLean O’Donnell (3:51.77) and C.J. Brown (3:52.43) following.
In the hurdles Donique’ Flemings and Wayne Davis II finished second only to a pair of Olympians while placing as the top collegians. Flemings ran a windy 13.08 (4.2 wind) behind a 12.80 for Lolo Jones, an LSU alum who placed fourth in the Olympics last summer.
Davis clocked 13.65 (-0.2 wind) behind a 13.37 for Aries Merritt, the Olympic gold medalist in London and the world record holder. LSU alum Barrett Nugent placed third in 13.72.
Over 400-meter hurdles Greg Coleman turned in a career best of 50.67 to place first with Louisiana Tech’s Yusuf Muhammad second at 50.90 and Cam Viney of Illinois third with a 51.86. Also setting a career best was A&M’s Aikan Graham with a 52.22 for fourth place.
Placing third overall, but as the top collegian in the women’s 400, Ibukun Mayungbe turned in a 52.99 as she finished behind professionals Jessica Beard (51.62) and Rebecca Alexander (52.89).
Field event victories started early in the morning for the Aggies as Dalton Rowan threw 186-6 (56.84) for first place in the men’s discus while Shelbi Vaughan claimed the women’s title with a 186-8 (56.90) to maintain her undefeated season among collegiate competition.
Vaughan, who hit her winning mark in the opening round, produced the third best performance for the A&M frosh this season and she topped the field by 25 feet, seven inches. In dealing with a tailwind during the event, Vaughan put together an impressive series – 186-8 (56.90), 184-10 (56.34), 175-1 (53.38), 175-1 (53.38), 177-0 (53.96), 177-5 (54.08).
Another pair of field event victories came in the women’s triple jump and men’s hammer.
LaQue Moen-Davis went 42-2.75 (12.87) to win the triple jump with teammate Madu third with a 41-3.25 (12.58). South Florida’s Marqueshia Stallworth finished second with a 41-6 (12.65) while LSU’s Keri Emanuel had three fouls. Casey Strong threw the hammer 198-9 (60.58) as the top collegian and second overall.
Distance wins in the 5,000 meters were achieved by Gabby Salazar (17:30.47) and James Hodges (14:59.07). Colin Slattery placed second to Hodges in the men’s race with a 15:13.01.
A final victory on the day slipped from the Aggies grasp in the men’s 4x400 relay. A&M took over the lead on the homestretch of the final lap with Lendore anchoring. However, Lendore eased up too soon and Illinois anchor Pamilton claimed the win in the final step to the finish line.
“I was too complacent at the end of the race,” explained Lendore. “After I moved into the lead I kind of cruised to the finish line not thinking about who was behind me or anything else. That is something I will never do again, because I don’t really like to lose.”
Illinois won in 3:04.58 with Texas A&M second at 3:04.65 while LSU finished third in 3:07.04. Running for the Aggies were Babineaux (46.7), Bailey (46.6), Roudette (46.1) and Lendore (45.2).
Dave Brown placed fourth, and was the second collegian, in the Invitational triple jump with a mark of 50-9.5 (15.48).
Jena Hemann led the A&M javelin crew with a second place finish, hitting a mark of 147-10 (45.06) to place behind the 152-1 (46.36) win by Jaimee Springer of Nicholls State. Kendall Munoz placed third (139-0) with Jean Deason fourth (138-8), Krystyn Bradley fifth (130-11) and Kelly Czumble eighth (129-5).
Pole vaulting had Chase Wolfle and Dustin Phillips each clearing 16-9.25 (5.11) for sixth and seventh place. In the women’s vault Brittany Wooten cleared 12-2.5 (3.72) for 10th place.
Among nine B division events the Aggies participated in A&M claimed five victories and had a pair of runner-up finishes.
Ryan Miller claimed the 1500 in 3:59.17 while Olivia Ekponé and Carlyle Roudette each won their 400 meter race with times of 53.72 and 46.73. Roudette set a career best with his win. Jonathan Turner finished first in the long jump with a wind-aided 23-3.25 (2.9 wind) while Chandrell Stephens had a windy 24.27 (2.3 wind) to capture the 200 meters.
Moen-Davis ran 13.99 into a headwind of 2.2 mps for second place in the B division of the 100 hurdles. Haley Gooch finished second in the triple jump with a mark of 39-7.25 (12.07).