SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Texas A&M grad Jessica Beard finished fourth in the final of the women’s 400 meters at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships held at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium on Saturday as another pair of former Aggie national champions, Curtis Mitchell and Ameer Webb, advanced past the first round of the men’s 200 meters.
Running in lane two Beard produced a time of 50.81 seconds for a fourth-place effort, establishing her first sub 51 second time outdoors since 2009. It equaled her second best time ever outdoors and trails only two career best marks by Beard, a 50.56 run in 2009 in earning NCAA silver at Fayetteville and a 50.79 indoors in 2011 when she claimed the NCAA Indoor title in College Station.
Beard also posted a 50.81 during the USATF Championships in 2009, placing third at Hayward Field in Eugene. Beard improved upon her fifth-place finish in the USATF finals from 2013 when she posted a 51.06.
Francena McCorory won the 400 final in 49.48 over a 49.66 from Sanya Richards-Ross as Natasha Hastings claimed third place in 50.53. Oregon’s Phyllis Francis initially finished fourth with a 50.80, but a disqualification for running on the lane line eliminated her from that placing.
Dee Dee Trotter finished fifth in 51.04 while a pair of collegians, Briana Nelson of Texas (51.10) and Arkansas’ Taylor Ellis-Watson (51.78), placed sixth and seventh.
Mitchell and Webb raced in the same heat of the 200 meters, running in the final of four heats. Mitchell won the heat in 20.20, which was the best qualifying time of the day, while Webb finished fourth in 20.70 and advanced to the next round as a time qualifier.
Other heat winners in the men’s 200 included Dedric Dukes (20.46), Sean McLean (20.49) and Wallace Spearmon (20.56). Mitchell, in lane 4, and Webb, in lane 8, will race in the same semifinal on Sunday where the top four finishers in each semi advance to the final.
The opening round in the women’s 200 was not needed, so Ashton Purvis and Jeneba Tarmoh will race in the semifinal on Sunday.
Aggies also competing on Sunday include Chase Wolfle in the men’s pole vault, Shelbi Vaughan in the women’s discus, Sam Humphreys in the men’s javelin as well as Melvin Echard and Tyron Stewart in the men’s long jump.
Web coverage of the USATF Championships begins at 1:30 p.m. (CT) on USATF.tv while Universal Sports offers live coverage from 2 to 3 p.m. with NBC having a two-hour broadcast from 3 to 5 p.m.