May 27, 2011

EUGENE, Oregon - Another successful day of qualifying for No. 1 Texas A&M had a dozen Aggies earning berths to the NCAA Championship weekend while a baker's dozen advanced to the quarterfinals on Saturday at Oregon's Hayward Field.

While Friday's portion of the NCAA West Preliminary rounds continued the cold and wet conditions, the crowd numbered a robust 6,614 fans.

Sasha-Kay Matthias advanced to Des Moines in the triple jump while Aggie sprinters qualified eight individuals for the NCAA semifinals - three in the men's 400, two apiece in the men's and women's 100 and one in the 400 hurdles. A&M also had a pair of 800 runners move on as well.

Among the 13 runners advancing from the first round Texas A&M sent all five sprinters in the men's 200 through as well as four sprinters in the women's 200. In addition the Aggies had three hurdlers advance in the women's 100 hurdles and one in the men's 110 hurdles.

Joey Roberts broke a 24-year-old school record in placing second in his quarterfinal heat of the 800 meters. Running a career best time of 1:46.89 enabled Roberts to take down the 1:47.19 mark set by Matt Dunn at the 1987 SWC Championships in Lubbock.

"It's just dawning on me that I'm a school record holder, once more," noted Roberts. "Even more than motivation it's proof that I achieved this and have what it takes.

"Nick Toohey, a former teammate, sent me a note saying redemption begins in Eugene, Oregon and ends in Des Moines, Iowa. The redemption is making up for the false start I had in the finals at the NCAA Indoor. That hurt, but to be here I'm thankful."

Roberts, who was runner-up to Oregon's Elijah Greer's leading qualifying time of 1:45.98, had the sixth fastest time of the quarterfinal. Roberts led his heat through each 200 meters, with splits of 24.27, 50.69 and 1:18.23.

"It feels great to accomplish what you set out to do," said Roberts. "My plan was to take it out strong. If I ran the race I knew I could run, then it wouldn't be in my hands, it would strictly be tactical and mental.

"Other runners commented how psychologically demanding it was for them when I went out so fast. In the end it proved to play to my strength and wowed the crowd. I'm just so grateful."

Michael Preble joined Roberts in qualifying for the NCAA semifinal in Des Moines when he placed second in the final heat with a time of 1:48.79.

Preble also led at 200 (25.05) and 400 (52.54), but found himself in third at the 600 mark (1:21.07). Coming off the final curve lane one opened slightly and Preble took advantage to move into second place and secure a spot in the NCAA semifinal.

"I'm used to having Joey in the same race setting the pace," said Preble. "It was a different kind of race for me, but it's good to have that experience. I was kind of trapped when they cut me off, so I was hoping for an opening.

"When we had a 100 meters left, there was an opening and I knew I had to get in there. I charged through to make sure I was in the top three."

A&M's Andrea Sutherland ran another career best in the 400 hurdles, winning her quarterfinal heat in 56.51 for advancement to the NCAA semifinal. Sutherland's previous PR was 56.53 from her runner-up finish at the Big 12 Championships.

"I just wanted to be in the top three and make it to nationals," said Sutherland, who had the second fastest time of the day. I'm just going to continue to train hard and see what happens next. I didn't let the weather became a factor for me, I just focused on what I needed to do."

Jessica Beard posted the top qualifying time for Des Moines in the West region 400 meters by powering to a 51.81 victory over Texas freshman Briana Nelson, who was second in 52.85. Behind Beard's top time was a pair of Razorbacks in Regina George (52.31) and Whitney Jones (52.41).

"It's not the best conditions, but I'm learning how to run through them," noted Beard. "So, I really couldn't be happier. I felt really good in my quarterfinal race.

"I think the atmosphere was very different for this meet compared to the NCAA Championships last year. There is nothing like nationals, though. But knowing that we did so well here a year ago helped us push through."

A&M's Ibukun Mayungbe placed fourth in her heat with a 54.85 and did not advance on time.

Demetrius Pinder repeated his victory from yesterday with a 45.82 quarterfinal winner over Oregon's Mike Berry (45.95) and Baylor's Marcus Boyd (46.15). Tabarie Henry and Bryan Miller each placed second in their races.

Henry ran 45.79 as he faced a pair of sprinters from USC with freshman Josh Mance winning the heat in 45.47 while junior Joey Hughes placed third in 46.16. Miller posted a time of 45.87 behind a 45.75 from Houston's Errol Nolan while Texas Tech's Gil Roberts finished third in 46.32.

In the 100 meters the Aggies advanced four sprinters, two each from the men's and women's quarterfinals.

Prezel Hardy, Jr. with a 10.48 as fourth in his heat. Tran Howell (10.60) and Michael Bryan (10.73) did not advance in the 100.

Ashley Collier claimed third in her heat of the 100 with an 11.43 to join Tarmoh. Not advancing was Dominique Duncan (11.69).

Matthias became A&M's seventh field event qualifier for Des Moines when she claimed 10th place in the triple jump with a final round windy effort of 42-1.25 (12.83). Matthias was in 13th place going into her final attempt and only the top 12 would make the trip to Des Moines.

Tiffany Peters placed 19th in the triple jump with a 40-9.75 (12.44w) while Lisa Steinkamp (39-5.75) and Melissa Mays (38-7.75) were 29th and 38th.

In the women's pole vault Laura Asimakis finished 16th with a clearance of 13-1.5 (4.00) while Aly Daily did not clear the opening height.

Tyler Lee (6-9) and Cameron Alexander (6-7) finished 20th and 25th in the men's high jump. Casey Strong placed 27th in the hammer with a toss of 190-1 (58.22).

Texas A&M advanced nine sprinters in the 200 meters for Saturday's quarterfinals along with four hurdlers.

Donique' Flemings earned a time qualifier with a 13.72.

Wayne Davis II posted a 13.87 as runner-up to Big 12 champion Omo Osaghae's 13.84 for advancement in the 110 hurdles.

In the women's 200 Tarmoh had the top qualifying time of 23.26. Duncan (23.72), Collier (23.87) and LaKeidra Stewart (24.37) joined Tarmoh in the quarterfinals.

Likewise, Howell had the top men's qualifying time with a 20.88 to top the 20.90 recorded by Big 12 champion Mookie Salaam of Oklahoma.

Another four Aggies made the quarterfinal with Hardy (21.08), Phiri (21.29), Carlyle Roudette (21.39) and Michael Bryan (21.56).