ALBUQUERQUE – Texas A&M junior Brea Garrett won the weight throw competition at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships with a mark of 72-8 (22.15) on Friday evening in her first ever appearance at the national championships.
Aggies also scoring in finals held on the first day of the meet included Ashton Purvis, fourth in the women’s 200; Aldrich Bailey, Jr., seventh in the men’s 200; and LaQue Moen-Davis, eighth in the women’s long jump. Texas A&M women totaled 16 points on the day with the Aggie men scoring two points.
Kamaria Brown, the world leader in the 200, made the final but didn’t finish the race. Starting in lane six, Brown pulled up and then stopped before reaching the half-way point of the race with hamstring issues.
Deon Lendore, the world leader in the 400, led qualifying to Saturday’s final with the fastest qualifying time of 45.60. A&M sprinters also advancing to finals included Wayne Davis II in the 60 hurdles, Jennifer Madu in the 60 meters and Shamier Little in the 400.
It was a trying journey for Garrett during the competition at the Albuquerque Convention Center as her best mark came in the first round, but was ruled initially as a foul. Texas A&M coaches protested the decision and video evidence determined Garrett had not fouled the attempt.
“I was so thankful to get that mark back,” exclaimed Garrett, who was competing in her first NCAA competition. “I didn’t think it was a foul, I did everything I usually do. I’m really grateful they could re-watch it after we protested.”
However, Garrett didn’t find out her first round mark was good until after the fifth round of competition. In getting her mark back Garrett moved from fifth to first place. UCLA’s Ida Storm had held the lead with a mark of 71-6 (21.79), which she improved to 71-10.25 (21.90) in the fifth stanza.
After fouling her sixth round attempt, Garrett had to wait out a few more throws, including Storm as the last thrower in the competition. Storm unleashed a toss that put her in range of Garrett’s leading distance, but it was ruled as a sector foul for hitting the line.
Following a protest by UCLA coaches regarding the last throw by Storm, Garrett was finally awarded gold in the event for her victory. Storm finished in the silver medal position.
“While I’m thankful for the win, I have to give credit to Ida,” noted Garrett. “She had a really good throw on her last attempt. It sucks that it was a foul for her. I’m just happy that my throw did count and I did earn it myself.”
Garrett, from Arlington, Texas (Martin HS), came into the competition as the NCAA leader with her career best effort of 74-4.25 (22.66). Following the opening round 72-8 at the NCAA Indoor meet, Garrett added marks of 69-7.5, 67-2.25 and 67-8 before fouling her last two efforts.
“It kind of dampened my spirit when they ruled my first throw a foul,” said Garrett. “Because I didn’t know what I needed to change, since I thought I was doing it right. It threw me off, but I tried to recover.”
Winning a NCAA title in her first appearance is quite an accomplishment as is the fact she becomes the first Aggie to ever win the event.
“I think it was good for her, especially with her confidence,” stated Texas A&M assistant coach Juan De La Garza. “The fact that she came in as the leading thrower and finished as the winner shows a lot of poise on her part.
“It was fun to see her become the champion, and the way it turned out was a lot of fun. We knew it was unlikely for her to foul the way they called it on her first throw. She never comes off that side of the ring when she throws. The film showed it wasn’t even close.”
Purdue’s Dani Bunch finished third in the event with a 71-6.75 with La’Shantena Rounds of McNeese State in fourth (71-6.25) while SEC champion Denise Hinton of LSU placed fifth (70-7.25).
Purvis clocked 23.11 for fourth place in the final of the 200 that was won by Kentucky’s Dezerea Bryant in 22.69. Florida’s Kyra Jefferson finished second in 22.79 while Penn State’s Mahagony Jones placed third in 22.93.
Brown ran 22.93 in the semifinal of the 200 and was stationed in lane six for the final with Bryant in five and Purvis in four.
The men’s 200 was captured by Alabama’s Diondre Batson in 20.32, who won the second section, while Florida’s Dedric Dukes finished second in 20.34 after winning the first section of the final. Pittsburgh’s Carvin Nkanata placed third with a 20.52 over a 20.55 from Florida’s Arman Hall in fourth place.
Bailey clocked 20.66 for fourth place in section one and finished seventh overall. He lowered his career best from the 20.69 he ran at the SEC Championships. Bailey equals the top A&M time this season and is equal No. 4 performer on the Aggie all-time list.
Moen-Davis opened with a mark of 20-1.75 (6.14) in the first round of the long jump and matched that mark again in round three. In addition to three fouls in the event, Moen-Davis only reached a distance of 19-8.25 in the sixth round.
The long jump title went to TCU’s Lorraine Ugen (22-1) while Fresno State’s Der’Renae Freeman (20-10) finished second and Georgia’s Chance Porter (20-9.75) placed third.
Lendore cruised to the top qualifying time in the men’s 400 while the runner-up in his prelim heat, Notre Dame’s Christopher Giesting, posted the second fastest time of 45.79. The other pair of sub 46 second times came from heat one with James Harris of Florida State and Florida’s Arman Hall clocking 45.90 and 45.96.
James ran the 400 prelims after winning the high jump with a clearance of 7-7.25. Hall was the only Gator to advance to the 400 final among the three Florida sprinters in the prelims.
In the men’s 200 prelims Bailey was the only Aggie among four A&M sprinters to make the final. In the prelims Prezel Hardy, Jr. (20.95) placed 11th, Michael Bryan (20.97) finished 12th and Shavez Hart (21.32) was 14th. In the 60 prelims Hardy ran 6.69 for 12th and Hart was 16th with a 6.73.
Davis ran 7.62 in the prelims of the 60 hurdles as he raced in the same heat as defending champion Eddie Lovett of Florida. Lovett led qualifying with a 7.57 that was also recorded by Arkansas frosh Omar McLeod in the previous heat.
Madu was the lone Aggie sprinter to advance from the women’s 60 prelims as her 7.27 was the eighth qualifying time. Just missing the cut was Olivia Ekponé with a 7.28 that was ninth overall. Aaliyah Brown’s 7.30 placed 10th overall in the prelim.
In the women’s 200 Purvis ran 23.14 to join Brown in the final while Ekponé’s 23.81 was 15th overall.
Little claimed the eighth and last qualifying position in the 400 with a 52.69 while Janeil Bellille was ninth with a 52.74 that just missed the final.