COLLEGE STATION – A collegiate record of 3:03.20 in the men’s 4x400 relay highlighted the final day of the SEC Indoor Championships hosted by the Aggies in front of 2,846 fans at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium on Saturday along with a historic double victory by Kamaria Brown in the 200 and 400 meters.
Meanwhile, a disqualification of the Texas A&M women in the 4x400 relay following their second place finish behind Florida cost the Aggies the SEC team championship. It was ruled by meet officials that A&M impeded the Gators during the anchor leg of the relay. Following an appeal by Texas A&M to the Jury of Appeals the decision was upheld.
Instead, it was the Gators claiming the women’s team trophy with 102 points while A&M placed second with 96.5. Prior to the disqualification the Aggie women totaled 104.5 points over Florida’s 102.
“Especially on a call like that, it’s a tough one,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “We’ll stand up, we’ll come back another day, and we’ll be ready to go. You don’t like to lose big time meets like this on a call like that, but it happens.”
The rest of the women’s field included Arkansas in third with 93.5 points followed by Kentucky (72), Georgia (64.5), LSU (47), Tennessee (35), Mississippi State (32), Missouri (29.5), Alabama (27), Auburn (25), South Carolina (21.5() and Vanderbilt (15.5).
Arkansas claimed the men’s team title for the third consecutive year with 121 points. Florida scored 106 points as runner-up with the Aggies in third with 83.33. The remainder of the field included Alabama (76), Kentucky (69.33), Georgia (39), Mississippi (36), Auburn (34.33), Tennessee (34), LSU (26), Missouri (24) and South Carolina (14).
The Cliff Harper Trophy for the high point scorers in the meet was shared by Kentucky’s Matt Hillenbrand and Florida’s Arman Hall with 20 points apiece for the men’s honor. The Gator’s Cory McGee earned the women’s honor with 20.5 points with A&M’s Brown second in scoring at 20.
Texas A&M men’s relay withstood the challenge from Florida, who equaled the previous collegiate record of 3:03.50 set by Arkansas in 2013, in the men’s final event of the meet to claim the victory with the fastest time ever run by a collegiate squad indoors. LSU finished third in 3:04.04, also under the previous meet record of 3:094.18 set by A&M in 2013, with Arkansas fourth at 3:04.94.
The Aggie crew consisted of Shavez Hart (47.06), Aldrich Bailey, Jr. (45.40), Carlyle Roudette (46.12) and Deon Lendore (44.63). The Gators ran with the foursome of Najee Glass (46.59), Hugh Graham, Jr. (46.03), Dedric Dukes (45.99) and Arman Hall (44.91).
“The crowd, the fans, they helped us to that collegiate record,” Lendore stated. “I don’t think I’d have had so much coming home if I didn’t have the people in the stands screaming so much. That gave me an extra boost. We might have won the race if we weren’t at home, but everyone screaming so much, pushing us to the limit is what helped us to that collegiate record.”
Brown rolled to a dominant victory in the 400 meters as her time of 50.94 that broke the SEC meet record of 51.13 set by LSU’s Hazel-Ann Regis in 2004. Brown became the eighth fastest collegian with her mark that places her a bit closer to the Aggie school record of 50.79 held by Jessica Beard.
“No, I didn’t expect a SEC meet record at all,” said Brown. “When you don’t expect stuff that is when it happens. I’m very happy with that time, and I’m proud of my teammate Shamier as well. My coach always tells me to trust in my training and take it one race at a time, so that is what I did.”
Runner-up to Brown was Florida’s Robin Reynolds in 51.77 while the Aggies claimed third and fourth with career best times from Shamier Little (51.86) and Janeil Bellille (52.58). A&M totaled 21 points in the event. Brown’s mark is the low-altitude world leader for 2014, with only a mark of 50.85 set at altitude better this indoor season.
An hour and 20 minutes later Brown cruised through one lap of the Gilliam track in 22.50 seconds, breaking the SEC meet record, facility record and school record of 22.51 she had set the previous day in the prelims.
“For Kamaria Brown to do that is just a huge day for her,” said Henry. “She’s a tremendous athlete and she’s a world-class athlete. She’s doing a great job. Deon Lendore is exactly the same way. Just fantastic runs from both of those individuals.”
In completing the rugged sprint double victory in the 400 and 200 meters, Brown became the first SEC sprinter, male or female, to achieve the feat. Regis of LSU had won titles in each event, but in separate years, claiming the 400 in 2004 and the 200 in 2005.
“It’s an extreme blessing,” noted Brown. “I didn’t go in expecting that I would win. I just trusted my training and let the times take care of themselves. I’m just very happy. I was extremely tired from the 400, but I have been training very hard and I was prepared for it. Doubling is not easy, so this is very exciting for me.”
Runner-up to Brown in the 200 was Kentucky’s Dezerea Bryant, the 60m champion in 7.16 seconds, with a 22.75 while Florida’s Kyra Jefferson placed third in 22.87. Aggie Olivia Ekponé placed fourth with a career best of 23.10 while Ashton Purvis finished sixth in 23.29.
Before anchoring the A&M men’s relay to a collegiate record, Lendore defended his SEC Indoor title in the 400 meters with a world-leading time of 45.03 seconds. He lowered his own school record from 45.15 and broke the facility record of 45.33 set by A&M’s Demetrius Pinder at the NCAA Championship in 2011.
“I really came out here to try to win,” Lendore said. “I tried to put aside the times I had done before. Just do what needed to be done today, since it’s all about getting the job done today. I ended up with a victory and another conference title added to the list.”
Lendore also is the first SEC sprinter to defend his 400m title indoors since Florida Jimmy Hackley in 1997 and 1998 while Georgia’s Torrin Lawrence won a pair of titles in 2010 and 2012.
As a junior, Lendore has been victorious in every conference race he has competed in during his collegiate career. He claimed his fifth conference title in the event and was a part of his fifth conference relay title. Lendore previously won the Big 12 indoor and outdoor 400 as a freshman in 2012, and then claimed a pair of SEC titles in 2013.
A thrilling women’s 4x400 race to cap the three day conference championship was marred by the disqualification and appeals that followed, delaying the outcome of the team champion by nearly an hour.
The Aggie women ran with a foursome of Little (53.32), Ibukun Mayungbe (53.08), Bellille (51.93) and Ekponé (52.50) to produce a time of 3:30.81 behind Florida’s winning effort of 3:30.16 from the quartet of Robin Reynolds (53.26), Destinee Gause (52.27), Kyra Jefferson (52.23) and Ebony Eutsey (52.41).
Texas A&M carried a 96.5 to 92 point lead over Florida going into the 4x400. The Gators experienced their own disqualification earlier in the 200 meters when Gause, originally fourth, was ruled to have run out of her lane. That cost Florida three points and gave the Aggies one point when Purvis moved from seventh to sixth place and the Gators’ Reynolds move into seventh from eighth place.
If there had been no DQ in either race then Florida would have claimed the team title by a margin of 105 to 103.5. An A&M win in the 4x400 over the Gators would have produced a 105.5 to 103 edge for the Aggies.
Silver medal performances for A&M included Brea Garrett in the weight throw and LaQue Moen-Davis in the triple jump. Bronze medal efforts included Wayne Davis II in the 60 hurdles, Olivia Ekponé in the 60, Chase Wolfle in the pole vault, Shavez Hart in the 200, Grace Fletcher in the 5000 and the men’s distance medley.
Garrett challenged and even led the defending champion Denise Hinton of LSU for four rounds of the weight throw. Hinton won the title with a 73-11 (22.53) best while Garrett repeated her runner-up performance with a 72-0 ¾ (21.96) effort.
An opening round of 70-5 ¼ gave Garrett the lead. In round five Hinton moved into first place with a 70-6 ½, but Garrett responded with her 72-0 ¾. Hinton answered back in round five with her top mark of 73-11 for the win.
Moen-Davis, the defending champion in the triple jump, was in chase mode from the start of the third flight of jumpers. Florida’s Ciarra Brewer, who finished third in 2013, opened her series with a 44-7 (13.59) mark that would win the competition. Moen-Davis produced her best mark of 44-2 ½ (13.47) in the final round, coming up less than five inches short of Brewer. A&M also had strong production from Haley Gooch (41-4 ¼ / 12.60) and Jordan Wilson (40-11 / 12.47) as they finished 10th and 13th.
A runner-up in the 2013 SEC Indoor race over 60m hurdles, Davis slipped to bronze status with a 7.71. Florida’s Eddie Lovett captured his fourth consecutive SEC Indoor title in the hurdles with a 7.67 while newcomer Omar McLeod of Arkansas clocked 7.70 for second place.
Ekponé registered another personal best in the 60 meters as she placed third and equaled her career best of 7.25 seconds she also ran in the prelims the day before. Ekponé led an Aggie 3-4-5 finish as Jennifer Madu (7.28) and Aaliyah Brown (7.30) helped A&M tally 15 points.
Chase Wolfle scaled new heights on the way to a PR clearance of 17-11 to claim third place in a talented pole vault field. Entering the field with a previous career best of 17-5, Wolfle needed three attempts to get over the first two heights of 16-4 and 16-10. After making it over on his second attempt at 17-3 ¾, Wolfle eased over PR heights of 17-7 ¾ (5.38) and 17-11 (5.46) on first attempts.
With the bar at 18-2, Wolfle missed all three attempts and placed third. Mississippi’s Sam Kendricks won the event at 18-2 over two-time defending champion Andrew Irwin of Arkansas, who matched the height but had earlier misses.
Clocking a swift PR of 20.66 placed Shavez Hart third in the 200 behind Florida’s pair of Arman Hall (20.59) and Dedric Dukes (20.61). Finishing behind Hart in fourth place was Aldrich Bailey, Jr. with a career best 20.69. A&M also placed sixth and seventh with Prezel Hardy, Jr. (20.96) and Michael Bryan (21.18) to score 16 points.
Another career best by Grace Fletcher had her earning third place in the 5,000 meters with a time of 16:10.75 behind a 16:00.73 by winner Dominique Scott of Arkansas and a 16:06.69 by Chelsea Blaase of Tennessee. A&M’s Hillary Montgomery (16:29.85) finished sixth, Karis Jochen (16:29.85) placed 12th and Amanda Jenkins (17:00.80) was 14th.
Texas A&M’s distance medley relay finished third with a time of 9:42.53 with the foursome of Isaac Spencer (3:00.93), Greg Coleman (46.83), Hector Hernandez (1:48.06) and Cameron Villarreal (4:06.73). Mississippi won the race in 9:39.54 with Florida second at 9:41.66. Earlier in the meet Spencer placed seventh in the mile with a 4:08.56.
Other fourth place endeavors for the Aggies included Josh Hernandez in the 800 (1:50.10), and Sierra Patrick (5-10), who tied for fourth in the high jump.
The women’s distance medley relay placed 10th with a time of 11:42.13 with the foursome of Katie Willard, Jessica Laseak, Aliese Hyde, Ashley Chamberlain. In the men’s 5,000 Ryan Miller placed 10th with a 14:30.51 while Austin Wells finished 14th in 14:36.62. In the women’s high jump Kara Erickson (5-6) tied for 11th and Jena Hemann (5-6) placed 17th.