With the three field event qualifiers for Eugene the Aggies secured on the first day of the NCAA West meet, Texas A&M now has a total of 22 athletes, 13 men and nine women, set to compete at Hayward Field during the national championship meet from June 11-14. Jena Hemann already qualified for the NCAA Championships in the heptathlon prior to this weekend.
“This was a great day for us,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “We did things we knew we were capable of doing, but we also had some unexpected performances as well. When an athlete can do their best here, in this type of meet, then it’s a really good performance.
“The high jump is a great example with Devion Harris clearing 7-1 on his final attempt to advance and it was good to see Olabanji Asekun advance in the long jump yesterday. It was impressive to have four sprinters under 45.7 in the 400 and our 400 hurdlers all looked great. Overall, we did what we expected to do other than the steeplechase.”
Four more Aggies advanced in field events with Casey Strong in the hammer, Devion Harris in the high jump, Shelbi Vaughan in the discus and LaQue Moen-Davis in the triple jump.
On the track A&M advanced four in the men’s 400 with Bralon Taplin, Deon Lendore, Carlyle Roudette and Aldrich Bailey, Jr. Four also qualified in the women’s 100 with Olivia Ekpone, Ashton Purvis, Aaliyah Brown and Jennifer Madu. The Aggie tandem of Janeil Bellille and Shamier Little advanced in the women’s 400 hurdles as both set career best times while Gregory Coleman improved his personal best to move on in the men’s 400 hurdles.
The women’s 400 hurdles featured another pair of sizzling times from Bellille and Little as they produced the top two times in the quarterfinals.
Running in the second heat Little claimed the win in 55.98 to better her 56.01 from the SEC Championships. Little defeated Danielle Dowie of Texas (57.30) and Gianna Woodruff of Washington (57.72). Little moves to No. 8 on the US Junior all-time list as well as No. 3 on the A&M all-time list.
Bellille cruised to a 55.41 personal best to win the final heat over a 58.10 by runner-up Amalie Iuei of USC. Bellille, who recently set a career best of 55.67 as runner-up in the SEC Championships, moves ever closer to the Aggie school record of 55.24 set by Rosa Jolivet in 1998 at the NCAA Championships in Buffalo.
Gregory Coleman ran a career best of 49.60 to win his heat over UTSA’s Keyunta Hayes who clocked 49.75. Coleman’s time ranks No. 4 on the Aggie all-time list and is the No. 4 performance as well. The leading qualifying time was 49.34 by Miles Ukaoma of Nebraska. A&M’s Kenneth Minkah nearly matched the PR he ran on Thursday as his 51.49 placed sixth in the heat and 19th overall.
The Aggies advanced each of its 4x400 relay members individually to Eugene as they posted four of the six fastest times in the quarterfinal. Likewise the A&M women achieved the same feat in the 100 meters with four advancing to the NCAA Championship weekend.
Bralon Taplin won the first of three heats in a career best time of 45.18 while Aldrich Bailey, Jr. clocked 45.74 in third place. Taplin’s time was the top mark among qualifiers and moves him to No. 7 on the A&M all-time list while Bailey’s mark is No. 12.
Deon Lendore claimed the second heat in 45.22 over a 45.85 from Clinton Collins of North Texas. Carlyle Roudette established a career best of 45.66 as runner-up in the final heat to a 45.39 by Mike Berry of Oregon. Roudette’s time is No. 11 on the Aggie all-time list.
While all the field events tend to take a long time in this meet’s format, the women’s discus lasted five hours and 10 minutes since it dealt with a brief rain delay in the first flight.
Vaughan won the competition with a throw of 194-0 (59.14) in the fifth round to better the field by nearly 10 feet. Last season a combination of rain delays and an injured back had Vaughan fouling three times.
This time Vaughan opened with a 181-5 mark and then she had a pair of fouls that left her in third place following the first three rounds. As the competition moved to the final three rounds Vaughan’s series included marks of 182-8, 194-0 and 181-2. Stanford’s Valarie Allman finished second with a 184-4 while TCU’s Megan Smith was third at 181-10.
Moen-Davis bounced back from her long jump performance on Thursday with a third-place finish in the triple jump. After opening with a windy 42-4.25, Moen-Davis improved to 43-2.5 (13.17) in round two and was able to pass her remaining four jumps.
Strong advanced to his first NCAA Championship in the hammer throw as he placed sixth with a best of 206-9 (63.02). That mark is the fourth best performance on the Aggie all-time list that Strong dominates with all 10 marks including the school record. The series for Strong included marks of 204-11, 203-11, 205-4, 203-9, 206-9 and pass. Austin Cook threw in the first of the three hammer flights, producing a mark of 195-9 (59.66) that placed 23rd overall.
A tie for ninth place in the high jump advanced Harris to the national championship meet as he cleared the deciding height of 7-1 (2.16) on his third attempt. Harris was clean through the first three heights he cleared at 6-7.5, 6-9.5 and 6-11.5.
In the 100, Olivia Ekpone won a heat in 11.32 with Jennifer Madu runner-up in 11.48. Aaliyah Brown finished second in the final heat with an 11.39 while Ashton Purvis claimed second in the opening heat at 11.52.
A pair of Aggies advanced in the men’s 100 with Shavez Hart and Prezel Hardy, Jr. While Hart finished third in the final heat with a 10.27 to earn an automatic qualification to Eugene, Hardy placed fourth in the first heat and had to wait out the next two heats to see if he would make it on time. He did as the last time qualifier with his 10.29.
Hector Hernandez led the final heat of the 800 through 600m and finished second in 1:47.93 to earn a berth to Eugene. He posted the third best time on the day behind Edward Kemboi of Iowa State (1:47.40) and Chris Low of Long Beach State (1:47.52). Josh Hernandez placed fifth in the second heat with a 1:50.10 and didn’t advance on time, placing 17th overall. The last time qualifier was 1:49.10.
In the women’s 400 a sixth place finish in the third heat with a time of 53.37 had Ibukun Mayungbe placing 14th overall. The last time qualifier to advance to Eugene was 53.07.
The final event on Friday that included advancement to Eugene was the 3,000-meter steeplechase where Isaac Spencer ran 9:02.32 to place ninth in his heat and 24th overall.
Other Aggies in the women’s triple jump included Jordan Wilson (39-11.25) in 27th place, Haley Gooch (39-4) in 33rd and Melissa Mays with three fouls.
Qualifying to the NCAA West quarterfinals in the 110 hurdles and 200 meters the Aggies advanced eight of their nine entries.
Wayne Davis II posted the top qualifying time in the 100 hurdles with a 13.46 (0.7 wind) as he was challenged by Oregon’s Jonathan Cabral, who ran the second best qualifying time of 13.54. Other top times from the first round of the 110 hurdles included Oregon’s Devon Allen (13.57), Trevor Brown of Colorado State (13.67), Aleec Harris of USC (13.70) and Omar McLeod of Arkansas (13.70).
First round action in the 200 meters had three Aggies advancing to Saturday’s quarterfinals. Prezel Hardy, Jr. and Shavez Hart were each heat winners with times of 20.66 and 20.60, respectively. Michael Bryan ran in the same heat as Hart and finished fourth with a 21.05 that advanced on time.
The Aggie women advanced four of the five sprinters they had running in the prelims of the 200 meters. Kamaria Brown won the first heat in 22.95, the top qualifying time, over a 23.32 by Texas Tech’s Cierra White. Purvis supplied the second fastest qualifying time with a 22.98 heat winner over a 23.11 by Iowa’s Brittany Brown.
Ekpone earned A&M’s third heat victory with a 23.25 into a -1.6 headwind over a 23.66 by Christy Udoh of Texas. Aaliyah Brown finished as runner-up in the final heat with a 23.52. Ashley Collier placed fifth with a 24.50 in the same heat with Purvis and didn’t advance on time.