COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M junior Jena Hemann won the pentathlon with a score of 4,003 points as she threatened her own school record of 4,017 points Friday evening during the first day of the Texas A&M Aggie Invitational inside the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
“Getting 4,000 points again was something that was exciting for me,” noted Hemann. “That was one of my goals going into this, but I was a little disappointed because I was trying to get at least 4,017 if not a little more.”
The Aggie women also showcased their talent in the 5,000 meters in claiming places 1-2-3-4-5 for 33 points. The trio of Grace Fletcher (16:13.71), Hillary Montgomery (16:19.91) and Karis Jochen (16:48.97) set career best times and moved up on the A&M all-time list.
“I think with this race we were kind of working together like we do in practice,” said Fletcher. “We worked as a team and pushed the pace, helping each other out the whole time.”
After the first day of action the Aggie women lead with 48 points with three finals – the pentathlon, distance medley relay and 5,000 meters – completed. Following A&M are LSU (17), UCLA (14), Baylor (14), Tennessee (10), and UTEP (5).
On the men’s side, with only one final in the 5,000, UTEP holds the current lead with 20 points followed by UCLA (14), Baylor (13), Tennessee (10), Texas A&M (10) and LSU (8).
Hemann started out strong with an 8.72 PR in the 60 hurdles (969 points) and then cleared 5-7.25 (867) in the high jump. A best of 41-3.25 (700) in the shot put boosted Hemann’s lead and an 18-1.5 (706) long jump had her leading UCLA’s Tatum Souza by 123 points (3,242 to 3,119) going into the 800m final event.
“There are few things I know I can pick up on,” said Hemann. “I started the event off good. My hurdles I was very happy with. Shot put and high jump could have been better, though.”
Through the first half of the 800m Hemann led the field. Then Souza, who needed to better Hemann by 9.5 seconds for the victory, pulled even with the leader early on the third lap. Taking a step in front of Hemann caused the Aggie to lose her stride and Souza fell to the track.
“In the 800, when I got off rhythm on the third lap it kind of upset my chance at the school record,” stated Hemann. “I know that I’m in a place I need to be to do some good things. I’m ready for the SECs.
“I was actually surprised I was leading through 400, and I was surprised I was still feeling good. I wasn’t feeling tired and I knew that third lap was critical. I saw her coming and then felt her coming in and tried to hold my ground. When she cut in our legs became intertwined and I lost my rhythm.”
While Hemann finished the race in third place with a career best time of 2:24.68 for 761 points, Souza ran 2:30.20 and ended up third overall with 3,809 points behind 3,858 for LSU’s Therese Jernbeck, who won the 800 in 2:17.87.
Just 14 points shy of her school record, Hemann was pleased with the victory and the fact that her score currently places her 11th on the 2014 collegiate pentathlon list where the top 16 marks will make the NCAA Indoor Championship field.
Hemann is the only Aggie to ever score 4,000 points in the pentathlon as her score of 4,003 is the second best performance on the A&M all-time list.
Fletcher and Montgomery each chopped 40 and 35 seconds off their previous best times of 16:57.38 and 16:56.15 in breaking the previous meet record of 16:38.25 set by Stanford’s Georgia Griffin in 2010. Fletcher is now the No. 3 performer with the No. 6 performance while Montgomery is the No. 4 performer with the No. 8 performance on the Aggie all-time list.
“It’s an incredible improvement,” noted Fletcher. “Everyone on the team has done incredible. I’ve improved, but really everyone has. It’s been a really good experience. I expected a PR, but I didn’t expect one that big.”
Montgomery added: “We just really wanted to work together and repeat what we do every day in practice. We we’re having to do all the work, so if we would have someone to pace off of and tucked in behind them it would have been a lot easier.”
Through the first 1,000m of the race Montgomery led the field with a 3:16.37 with Fletcher (3:16.64) in second place. That same order remained through 4,000m as Montgomery held the lead at 2k (6:29.31 to 6:29.56), 3k (9:45.88 to 9:46.09) and 4k (13:03.72 to 13:03.78). Then Fletcher moved to the front and finished strong for the victory.
Jochen’s debut at this distance places her at No. 8 on the all-time list right behind Amanda Jenkins, who placed fourth (17:03.37) in the race while Gabby Salazar (17:18.00) set a career best as well.
Ryan Miller produced a career best of 14:31.32 for third place in the men’s 5,000 behind a 14:29.64 from UTEP’s Elphas Maiyo and a 14:30.65 by UCLA’s Michael McCabe. Other Aggies in the race included Julian Castellano (15:03.63) in ninth place, Elliott Farris (15:04.20) in 10th place and Austin Geerts (15:06.23) in 11th.
Completing four events of the men’s heptathlon has Aggie Daniel Martin in fourth place with 2,564 points. Baylor’s Hunter Brook leads the event with 3,004 points. Three more events will be completed on Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.
Martin won the 60 meters in 7.22 seconds (752 points) to start the seven-event contest. Then he had a 20-5.25 long jump (637), a 35-6.5 shot put (536) and 5-8.75 high jump (585).
In distance medley relays, the Aggie women placed fifth in 11:49.27 with the foursome of Katie Willard, Jessica Laseak, Lauren Fontana and Ashley Chamberlain. The A&M men ran 10:10.86 for sixth place with a crew of Nick Rollo, Greg Coleman, Cameron Villarreal and Brett Schmit.