NCAA Outdoor Championships
Men Team scores: 1. tie, Texas A&M and Florida, 53; 3. Arkansas 46.5; 4. Oregon 44; 5. USC 42; 6. Texas 32; 7. LSU 27; 8. Mississippi 24; 9. Florida State 22.5; 10. Arizona 20.
Women Team scores: 1. Kansas 60; 2. Texas A&M 44; 3. Oregon 43; 4. LSU 40; 5. UCF 35; 6. Tie, Stanford & Arizona 33; 8. Arkansas 30; 9. Clemson 29; 10. Arizona State 28.
EUGENE – Texas A&M won its fourth men’s NCAA Outdoor championship as the Aggies and Florida Gators each scored 53 points to share the 2013 title on a dramatic day in front of 11,482 fans at Hayward Field. The Texas A&M women scored 44 points to finish as the team runner-up behind Kansas.
This marks the seventh national championship won by the Texas A&M track and field program over a five year span and is the 34th NCAA Championship claimed by Aggie head coach Pat Henry. The A&M men and women each won national team titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011, completing an unprecedented feat in the sports history.
“You look at what we did today, across the board with men and women, with the events we won and how competitive we were I can’t be anything but pleased with our team today,” noted Henry.
Leading the team scoring over Florida 52 to 43 going into the final event, the 4x400 relay, the Aggies put their championship in jeopardy with a dropped baton before the first exchange. Ricky Babineaux retrieved the baton and the next three legs completed the race to earn a very important one point in eighth place as Florida won the race to reach 53 points.
This is the first time the men’s championship has been shared since 1978.
“We’re elated for our team,” said Henry of the championship victory. “We win the javelin, hurdles and 200 today. Our team was on a roll and doing some things really well. It’s just tough that we don’t look the baton in and something happens on the first exchange of the 4x400. That’s the way it is with track and field. You have to everything right and it certainly has to be right when it comes to that relay.
“This is our fourth title in the past five years and we’ve won it by one or two points each time. It always seems to come down the end and you have to be perfect all the way through. We weren’t perfect today, but we had some perfect things happen to get us to here.”
Victories for the Aggies on Saturday included the women’s 4 x 100 relay in 42.88, Wayne Davis II in the 110 hurdles with a wind-aided 13.14, Sam Humphreys in the javelin with a 255-9 (77.95) and Ameer Webb in the 200 with a windy 20.10.
Kamaria Brown ran the third leg of the winning 4x1, finished second in the women’s 200 with a wind-aided 22.21, the fastest ever by an A&M sprinter, and anchored the 4x400 to a runner-up finish in 3:27.59 with the fastest split of the day, 50.27. Donique’ Flemings clocked a career best of 12.85 for third place in the 100 hurdles to move to No. 3 on the Aggie all-time list.
With three events remaining in the men’s team chase – 5,000 meters, triple jump and 4x400 relay – the Aggies led the field with 51 points followed by USC (42), Oregon (38), Arkansas (34.5), and Florida (33).
Omar Craddock won the triple jump to move the Gators into second place with 43 points. Neither A&M nor the Razorbacks scored in the triple jump with Aggie Dave Brown 16th (51-1.5) and Arkansas’ Tarik Batchelor in 17th (51-0.25).
An important point was scored in the men’s 5,000 meters by Henry Lelei when he managed to move from 11th to eighth over the final two laps of the race, running 13:58.55. Arkansas picked up four points from a fifth-place effort by Kemoy Campbell.
With the men’s 4x400 lining up in their blocks, Texas A&M’s lead was 52 to 43 over Florida with USC (42) in third ahead of Arkansas 38.5 and Oregon 38. Only USC didn’t have a relay squad in the race.
As Babineaux neared the completion of his lead-off leg, the baton was dropped on the exchange to Aldrich Bailey, Jr. and fell to the track, rolling from lane four to lane one. Babineaux retrieved the baton and eventually handed it off to Bailey. Carlyle Roudette and Deon Lendore completed the race to finish in 3:07.64.
“I didn’t even think twice about it, I just went over to pick it up so we could still run,” explained Babineaux. “It was nerve-racking and emotionally I still don’t how to feel. Ending in a tie for the championship is a blessing.”
Florida won the race in 3:01.34 to earn 10 points and reach the score of 53 that A&M matched in claiming the vital one point for eighth place. Arkansas finished second in the race with a 3:03.61 with Oregon in third at 3:03.61.
Humphreys established the leading mark on his very first throw of the javelin, 253-7 (77.31). Then he improved in the fourth round to his winning distance of 255-9 (77.95). Humphreys becomes the first Aggie thrower to score four consecutive years in the NCAA Outdoor Championships as he completed a trek that included fifth place as a freshman, third place in his sophomore season and runner-up as a junior.
“This is definitely my number one moment,” stated Humphreys. “I’ve been working for this for four years. It means a lot to be a NCAA Champion.
“You know you need to go out there and focus on what needs to be done to win. I don’t focus on the score or what’s on the board because anything can happen in any race. You just keep your head clear and do what you need to do.”
Two-time defending champion Tim Glover of Illinois State finished second to Humphreys with a best of 247-6 (75.44) while home crowd favorite Sam Crouser of Oregon placed third with a 239-9 (73.07). A&M’s Devin Bogert improved to 226-3 (68.96) on his third throw, moving from 22nd to 12th, matching the finish he had as a freshman last year.
In close race Davis pulled away for the hurdle win in stellar time of 13.14w (3.8 wind) that put him in elite company. Runner-up to Davis was Florida’s Eddie Lovett in 13.32w with Clemson’s Spencer Adams third in 13.34w.
Davis produced the No. 2 time and the No. 4 performance for all-conditions on the collegiate all-time list, trailing the collegiate record of 13.00 set by Renaldo Nehemiah in 1979 as well as a windy 12.91 by Nehemiah. Davis also bettered the Championship meet record of 13.21 set by Aries Merritt in 2006.
Webb doubled up his championships in the 200 this year, adding the NCAA Outdoor crown to go with the NCAA Indoor title he claimed for a second time back in March. It’s the first Aggie title in the national outdoor meet since Floyd Heard produced a pair of titles in 1986 and 1987.
“I’m a two-time indoor and one-time outdoor track champion, so I’m on top of the world, in my own world, right now,” Webb said.
Webb’s 20.10w (2.6) gave him the edge over Olympian Isiah Young of Mississippi, who placed second in 20.17w with USC’s Bryshon Nellum, the NCAA 400 champion, in third with a 20.27w. London Olympic finalist Anaso Jobodwana of Jackson State placed fourth in 20.29w.
“I was a little bit intimidated by some of the other guy’s times today,” noted Webb. “I know the 100 isn’t my strong suit, however, knowing I’m a 200 guy gave me some confidence.”
The Aggie women started their day off with the 4 x 100 relay and produced a victory in 42.88 seconds with the foursome of LaKeidra Stewart, Ashton Purvis, Brown and Ashley Collier. In second place with a time of 43.36 was Central Florida while Clemson placed third in 43.76.
“I knew that everyone was going to run their best today, so winning this race makes me very happy,” said Collier. “We all had to work on each of our legs, and everyone did really well. We’re happy we came out first. I like to hear Kamaria scream after she gives me the baton, it tends to make me run faster.”
Coming into the final with the two fastest times of the season a 42.56 from Texas Relays and a 42.84 during the NCAA semifinal, Texas A&M claimed its fifth national title in the sprint relay since 2007.
Brown challenged two-time defending champion Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU through the curve of the 200 and maintained a lead over the rest of the field when Duncan pulled ahead by a couple of strides on the homestretch.
Duncan won the race in a windy 22.04 (3.5), equal to the collegiate best under all-conditions, with Brown in second at 22.21w while Central Florida’s Aurieyall Scott finished third in 22.48w. A&M’s Olivia Ekpone placed eighth with a 22.96w.
“It’s so amazing to run against Kim, because she is a great athlete,” said Brown. “I just thought about myself in that race. At the end of the day we are both trying to win. To come out here and run 22.21 against her I’m very happy with my time. I’ve been trying for the longest to get under 22.5 and I finally did.”
In the 100 hurdles Brianna Rollins of Clemons broke the collegiate record she set in the semifinal with a winning time of 12.39 (1.7) with Kori Carter of Stanford runner-up in 12.79. Flemings set her own PR with a 12.85 ahead of a pair of 12.88s from Morgan Snow of Texas and Clemson’s Kendra Harrison.
Flemings time the fastest time by an A&M hurdler in a NCAA final, which also places her No. 3 on the Aggie all-time list with the No. 4 performance. It’s the highest finish for A&M in this event since 1997 when Anjanette Kirkland finished as the runner-up.
“I’m excited to get a legal PR,” said Flemings. “I focused on my race and tried to finish as high as I could. Being lane eight against the stands helped me focus a little more on what I needed to do. It made me concentrate on my lane.”
Heading into the women’s 4x400 relay Kansas had already locked up the team title, but second place was up for grabs as LSU and Oregon each had 38 points with the Aggies at 36.
The Aggies ran the second fastest time and third best performance in school history, just behind the 3:26.31 set in 2011, with the foursome of Olivia Ekpone (53.1), Ibukun Mayungbe (51.4), LaKeidra Stewart (52.81) and Brown (50.27).
“I was nervous when I got the baton, because I wanted to do my best for the team,” said Brown. “For me to move us from fourth to second is just amazing. I’m very proud of the effort we had all day to get second place as a team.”
The eight points for the Aggies pushed them to 44 for the runner-up team position while Oregon placed third with 43 points and LSU finished fourth with 40.