BATON ROUGE – Texas A&M will send a large contingent to the LSU Alumni Gold Invitational on Saturday as they compete in the meet along with 20 other schools. This will be the first of two visits to Bernie Moore Stadium for the Aggies, who travel to LSU again on May 3.
The Aggies, with the women ranked No. 1 in the nation and the men No. 4, are one of four SEC teams in the meet, which starts at 9 a.m. for the morning session and 1:30 p.m. for the afternoon session, along with the host Tigers, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
The field also includes Arizona, Dillard, Harvard, Hinds, Illinois, Iowa State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Michigan, Mississippi State, New Orleans, Nicholls State, Northwestern State, South Florida, Southern, Southern Mississippi, Texas A&M-Kingsville and Tulane.
“Overall the whole thing we are trying to do this weekend, and this is an environment you can possible get it done, is putting a lot of people on the track and in field events,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “We are still trying to figure a few things out this time of the year, a month away from our conference meet. This meet enables us to get on the track with some great competition.”
Featured events in the afternoon will include the sprints and relays, where Texas A&M and LSU usually go head-to-head in competitive races.
In the 400 Deon Lendore, the current world leader at 44.90, faces LSU’s Vernon Norwood, who finished second to Lendore in the NCAA Indoor 400 and placed third at the SEC Indoor when Lendore posted a world-leading indoor time of 45.03.
The field in the 400 will also include Carlyle Roudette, who ranks seventh on the 2014 collegiate list with his PR of 45.77 from the Sun Angel Classic, as well as LSU quarter-milers Darrell Bush and Cyril Grayson, who were part of the Tiger’s NCAA Indoor title in the 4x400.
A crew of five A&M sprinters are in the women’s 200 with Kamaria Brown and Olivia Ekpone in the first of two sections along with LSU’s post-collegian Kimberlyn Duncan, a three-time NCAA Outdoor champion in the event. Ashley Collier, India Daniels and Ibukun Mayungbe will race in the second section.
In the women’s 100 the Aggies have a squad of four racing with Aaliyah Brown, Jennifer Madu, Ashton Purvis and Daniels in the first of two sections where they will also face Duncan and another former LSU NCAA champion in Muna Lee.
Shavez Hart, Prezel Hardy, Jr. and Michael Bryan will contest the men’s 200 with Hardy and Bryan also entered in the 100. The trio will also comprise the first three legs of the 4x100 relay for A&M with Gregory Coleman on the anchor leg for the second consecutive week.
“We’re trying to get a little bit better with exchange work in the relays,” noted Henry. “With our first three legs, if we can stay healthy, then I think Deon, Aldrich Baily or Coleman are in a position to be on there. Shavez Hart has run real well on both relays and is very consistent. Last week he ran 10.18 to win the 100 and then split 45 on the 4x400. He had a great weekend last week.”
The Aggie men broke the 4x100 school record when they posted a 38.30 at the Texas Relays with Lendore on the anchor leg. Louisiana Tech has run 39.66 this season while LSU’s best is 39.94. The Texas A&M women have a season best time of 43.69 while LSU is at 44.17 with Tennessee at 45.15.
The 4x400 will also have the Aggies sporting the top times in the Alumni Gold field with a 3:02.67 for the men and a 3:31.27 for the women. LSU men sport a 3:02.81 while the Tiger women have a best of 3:36.83 with Louisiana Tech at 3:37.48 and Tennessee with a 3:37.53.
Shamier Little will run her first open 400 meter race of the outdoor season after posting a collegiate leading 56.55 in the 400 hurdles at the Sun Angel Classic last week. Little, who placed third in both the SEC Indoor and NCAA Indoor this season, clocked a career best of 51.86 indoors. The 400 field at LSU includes Shapri Romero of Arizona (52.69) as well as Tennessee’s Felecia Majors (53.12).
An early morning match-up in the discus features A&M’s Dalton Rowan and Rodney Brown of LSU. Rowan, who has a best of 189-0 this season and a career best of 196-8, placed third in the SEC Championship a year ago and finished seventh in the NCAA Championships. Brown, the SEC champion in 2013 and fourth at the NCAA, improved his personal best to 206-5 during the Texas Relays in March. Joining Rowan are teammates Jeff Bartlett and Ben Skrla.
Devin Bogert, who set a career best of 239-6 in winning the javelin at the Sun Angel Classic, ranks sixth among the collegiate list this season. He will face Joshua Cox of Louisiana Tech, who sports a best of 228-4, as well as LSU’s Jeremy Tuttle, who placed seventh in the SEC last year and was fifth in 2012 with a best of 227-6.
Casey Strong (210-11), who placed fourth in the SEC last season, battles a talented hammer field that includes Tuttle of LSU (212-0), eighth in the SEC, and Arizona’s Jordan Young (211-7) while A&M’s Austin Cook continues to improve in the event with a current best of 190-10.
In the women’s hammer Brea Garrett (192-6) and Alison Ondrusek (177-9) seek continued improvements as they challenge a field that includes Denise Hinton (209-6) and Karen Henning (191-8) of LSU. Hinton was the SEC runner-up in 2013.
The Aggie tandem of LaQue Moen-Davis and Jennifer Madu are in the Invitational long jump along with Rochelle Farquharson of Mississippi State. With a season best of 20-7 Moen-Davis is currently third in the SEC and ninth in the nation.
The defending SEC Outdoor champion Moen-Davis has placed eighth at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor and 2014 NCAA Indoor meets. Farquharson, currently sixth outdoors in the SEC with a best of 20-5, placed third in the SEC Outdoor last year and then claimed the SEC Indoor title this season with a 21-0.75 and finished third in the NCAA Indoor.
A trio of A&M entries in the high jump includes Devion Harris, Tyler Lee and Samuel McSwain amid a field of 16 jumpers. Headlining the event is Arizona’s Nick Ross, the NCAA Indoor runner-up with a 7-6 clearance who has cleared 7-4.5 outdoors and ranks second collegiately.
Chase Wolfle and Clifton Harlin will vault amid a field of 16 while Brittany Wooten is the top vaulter in the women’s field of 10. With a career best of 13-7.25 from the Texas Relays, Wooten will face a challenge from Tennessee’s tandem of Erin Champion (13-3.5) and Linda Hadfield (13-3.5). Wolfle has eclipsed 18-0.5 this outdoor season while Chase Brannon of Tennessee cleared 17-9.75 indoors and LSU’s Andreas Duplantis has a best of 17-9.25 from the 2013 indoor season.
Another area of depth in this meet for the Aggies is in the 800 where A&M will have seven running over three sections. Hector Hernandez, who has a 1:48.66 this outdoor season, and Josh Hernandez, with a 1:49.71, race in the main afternoon section with LSU’s Blair Henderson (1:49.60). Competing in the earlier pair of sections for the Aggies are Cameron Cardwell, Brett Schmit, Isaac Spencer, Tarik Tyler and Cameron Villarreal.
In the women’s 800 Aliese Hyde (2:07.53) and Katie Willard (2:07.98) face Chloe Schmidt of Illinois (2:07.37) and Morgan Schuetz of LSU (2:08.67). A&M’s Ashley Chamberlain and Kaila Brooks race in an earlier section of the 800.
In distance races Ryan Teel and Elliott Farris will run in the 3,000m steeplechase. After his debut in the 10,000 meters at Stanford a couple of weeks ago, Austin Wells will race over 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters at LSU. Joining Wells in the 5k are Ryan Miller, Austin Geerts, and Julian Castellano.
In the 1500 the Aggies will also have Micah Dettmer, Aaron Murray, Miller and Dylan Williams. Racing in the women’s 1500 are Hillary Montgomery and Gabby Salazar.