An overcast sky with temperatures in the low to mid-50s and wind that gusted up to 13 mph was on the menu as the heptathlon and decathlon got underway with Aggies Jena Hemann and Daniel Martin in action. Also competing in the first final of the SEC meet were Alison Ondrusek and Brea Garrett in the women’s hammer.
Similar conditions are expected on Friday as men’s hammer final is contested along with the 10,000 meters on the track. While the heptathlon and decathlon are completed on the second day of the SEC Championships prelims will be held in the 800, 200, and 400 hurdles.
In the first final of the SEC Championships the women’s hammer had Ondrusek, a freshman, placing ninth with a mark of 177-11 (54.32). Garrett, who entered the meet with a season best of 192-6, had three fouls and didn’t register a mark.
Ondrusek had the second best mark after the first flight of throwers with a series of 168-1, 164-8 and 177-11. Ondrusek was in ninth place after the second flight completed their set of three throws. With the top nine advancing to the final Ondrusek completed her series with marks of 174-7, foul and 175-5.
Hemann, who has placed fifth in the heptathlon at her last two conference meets, completed the first day of four events in the heptathlon with 3,188 points and is currently in eighth place among the 12 entrants. Hemann opened with a 14.78 (871 points) in the 100 hurdles and cleared 5-5.25 (806) in the high jump. Moving to the shot put produced a 40-2.75 (678) for Hemann and the closed out day one of the multi-event with a 25.59 (833) in the 200 meters.
Hemann placed fifth in 2012 at the Big 12 meet with 5,285 points after scoring 3,198 on the first day. Last season she produced a total of 5,378 points in the SEC meet after closing out the first day with 3,314 points.Martin, who placed eighth in the SEC Indoor heptathlon, is currently in 12th place with 3,355 following the first five events of the decathlon. After running 11.33 (789 points) in the 100 meters, Martin had a long jump of 20-4.5 (632) and shot put of 34-2 (510). Following a high jump of 5-8.75 (585) Martin concluded the first half of the decathlon with a 49.47 to post the best time in the 400 meters.
Casey Strong and Austin Cook will compete in the men’s hammer on Friday. Strong, the Aggie school record holder at 210-6, placed fourth in the SEC meet a year ago with a 206-7 effort. Strong will seek to score in his fourth consecutive conference meet in the hammer having placed fourth and sixth in the Big 12 in 2011 and 2012.
Cook, a freshman, gets his first taste of the conference meet following a productive season. He opened outdoors with a 184-8 effort and improved to a PR of 199-2 within a month and ranks 12th in the SEC heading into this weekend.
Racing in the women’s 10,000 for the Aggie women is a quartet of Hillary Montgomery, Karis Jochen, Grace Fletcher and Gabby Salazar. The men’s 10,000 will have the A&M tandem of Austin Wells and Ryan Miller.
Miller placed 12th in the SEC a year ago while Montgomery finished 15th and Fletcher was 17th. All three have improved this season and rank among the top 10 in the SEC this spring. In the SEC Indoor 5,000 meters Fletcher finished third and Montgomery placed sixth after being 14th and 22nd in 2013. Miller placed 10th at the SEC Indoor 5k to improve upon being 23rd in 2013.
Wells and Jochen are both freshmen who have conference experience from the cross country and the indoor seasons. Wells is one of just six runners in the SEC to post a 10k time under 30 minutes with his 29:53.90 at Stanford while Jochen clocked 34:41.86 in the same meet and ranks seventh in the SEC.