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NCAA Championship journey begins in Austin for No. 2 Aggies

May 22, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

AUSTIN – Texas A&M’s journey in challenging for NCAA Outdoor Championship team titles starts at Mike A. Myers Stadium this weekend as the Aggies, with the men and women each ranked No. 2 in the nation, send a large contingent into action during the NCAA West preliminary rounds.

With 58 entries, evenly divided at 29 between the A&M men and women, the Aggies get started on Thursday and action will continue through Saturday. Each A&M squad finished third in NCAA Championship team scoring last year after both made history in winning three consecutive national championship titles from 2009 to 2011.

“This has shown to be a competitive and good group of people,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “I’m pleased with the numbers we have going. The NCAA Championships is about the elite level of the sport and stepping up and getting it done on these days. Numbers isn’t always the answer to everything. It’s the elite athletes that you get advancing out of these rounds.”

Field events begin at noon each day with running events starting at 5 p.m. the first two days and 6 p.m. on the final day. An all-meet ticket is $25 for adults and $15 for youth and seniors. Single day tickets cost $10 for adults and $7 for youth and seniors. All seats are general admission.

“It’s a great facility and it gives our parents and fans an opportunity to come over and watch,” noted Henry. “I hope we have more Aggies over here than there are Longhorns. Normally we have a great crowd there.”

Live video streaming is available each day at the following links:

Thursday, May 23: http://ulive.cbssports.com/index-ncaa.html?media=389157

Friday, May 24: http://ulive.cbssports.com/index-ncaa.html?media=388919

Saturday, May 25: http://ulive.cbssports.com/index-ncaa.html?media=388920

Results from the NCAA West preliminary round will be available online at http://www.texassports.com/livestats/c-track/.

With field sizes of 48 athletes in each discipline, along with 24 teams in relay events, the first two rounds of the NCAA Championships will trim the field down in each event. The top 12 finishers advance to Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA Championship semifinals and finals held at Hayward Field from June 5-8.

The Aggie men will have 24 athletes among 29 entries in 16 events while the A&M women have 21 athletes among 29 entries in 15 events. The Aggie men and women each have 14 entries that are seeded among the top 10 in the West region. Another four A&M entries on the men’s side are currently among the top 12 based on season best marks.

“We are advancing by place and this is about being in the top 12,” said Henry. “People have to understand there are 48 people here trying for 12 spots. That’s a quick elimination and it’s about the cream rising to the top.

“There are 96 people running the 100 meters between the East and West sites this weekend and we get the field down to 24, with 12 from each region, who will be in Eugene. So it starts getting tougher and tougher as we go.”

Thursday’s action for the Aggies includes SEC champion LaQue Moen-Davis in the long jump, SEC bronze medalist Dalton Rowan in the discus and Devion Harris in the high jump. Track events involving Texas A&M athletes on the first day include men’s 400 hurdles, women’s 1500, men’s and women’s 100, 400 and 800 as well as the women’s 10,000 meters.

In the women’s 100 the Aggies have six entrants with a crew that includes SEC runner-up Jennifer Madu, Ashley Collier, India Daniels, Olivia Ekpone, Ashton Purvis and LaKeidra Stewart. The men’s 100 will include the A&M trio of Michael Bryan, Prezel Hardy, Jr. and Ameer Webb.

The men’s 400 meters features the two fastest collegians this season in A&M’s Deon Lendore (45.00), the SEC champion, and USC’s Bryshon Nellum (44.76), the Pac-12 champion. Aggie entries also include Ricky Babineaux and Carlyle Roudette, who were both part of the winning 4x400 at the SEC meet.

Another event with a trio of A&M entries is the men’s 800 with James Bonn, Hector Hernandez and Josh Hernandez. Hector Hernandez was the lone SEC finalist among the trio, placing fourth with a career best of 1:48.62. Bonn set a PR of 1:48.64 earlier this season.

A pair of Aggies, Greg Coleman and Aikan Graham, are in the men’s 400 hurdles. Coleman initially finished second in the SEC final with a career best of 50.48, but a trail leg violation resulted in a disqualification.

Individual entries on Thursday for the A&M women include Ibukun Mayungbe in the 400, Aliese Hyde in the 800, Sophie Blake in the 1500 and Hillary Montgomery in the 10,000.

Friday’s field events include SEC discus champion and A&M school record holder Shelbi Vaughan, who is undefeated among collegian competition in her freshman season, and men’s hammer school record holder Casey Strong, who placed fourth in the SEC.

Quarterfinals will be held in the running events – 100, 400, 800 and 400 hurdles – that had first round action on Thursday. Other track events on Friday include the 100 hurdles, 110 hurdles, 200 and the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

SEC champion and collegiate leader Henry Lelei runs the steeplechase on Friday and then tackles the 5,000 meters on Saturday. Isaac Spencer, a SEC bronze medalist, joins Lelei in the steeplechase.

A pair of SEC champions will represent the Aggies in the sprint hurdles with Donique’ Flemings in the 100 hurdles and Wayne Davis II in the 110 hurdles. Both have matched each other’s performances in major meets this season.

They were both SEC runner-up indoors in the 60m hurdles. Outdoors they each won hurdle titles at the Penn Relay Carnival and then produced season best times at the SEC Outdoor meet in claiming hurdle victories, with Flemings clocking 13.03 and Davis hitting 13.45 in the prelims followed by a 13.46 in the final.

The 200 will feature four Aggies each in the men’s and women’s first round. The A&M crew in the women’s 200 includes SEC runner-up Kamaria Brown, Daniels, Ekpone and Purvis. The foursome in the men’s 200 field includes SEC runner-up Webb, Bryan, Hardy, Jr. and Jermaine Davis.

Six field events with Aggie involvement highlight Saturday’s action. The women’s triple jump will include five A&M jumpers, featuring SEC runner-up Moen-Davis and bronze medalist Madu along with Haley Gooch, Melissa Mays and Jordan Wilson.

Sam Humphreys, the American and collegiate leader in the javelin since mid-March with a 267-1 (81.40) mark, seeks a fourth consecutive trip the NCAA Championship site while teammate Devin Bogert seeks a second trip after placing 12th as a freshman in 2012.

A four-time conference winner, Humphreys has scored in each of his NCAA appearances. After placing fifth as a freshman, Humphreys earned a bronze medal as a sophomore and claimed silver last year.

Brea Garrett and Vaughan will contest the women’s shot put while A&M’s tandem in the men’s pole vault includes Dustin Phillips and Chase Wolfle. Dave Brown qualified for the men’s triple jump while Kendall Munoz is the lone Aggie in the women’s javelin.

In addition to quarterfinals on the track in the sprint hurdles and 200, Texas A&M will carry collegiate leading times in the three of the four relays contested on Saturday.

The Aggie women lead the collegiate list in the 4x100 with a 42.56 that equaled the Texas Relays meet record in late March. Changing the anchor leg at the SEC meet had A&M winning in 43.43. The men’s 4x100 crew also produced a collegiate leading time in winning the Texas Relays title and recently placed third in the SEC final with a 39.11.

The men’s 4x400 has run 3:02.52 to lead the collegiate ranks. After finishing second to Florida at the Texas Relays, the Aggies claimed the Penn Relays title with its collegiate leading time and won the SEC title. In the women’s 4x400 relay A&M ranks third in the region and fourth collegiately with a season best of 3:27.89.

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