May 26, 2011

EUGENE, Oregon - Amid a cold and wet first day of the NCAA West Preliminary rounds hosted at historic Hayward Field, the No. 1 Texas A&M Aggies fared very well in advancing athletes to the next phase of the national championships.

Field event qualifying secured six Aggies a spot in Des Moines for the NCAA Championships in front of 6,381 fans on Thursday. On the track, A&M advanced 15 runners to the quarterfinal stage here on the University of Oregon campus.

Advancing to Drake University for the June 8-11 national championship weekend are the sister-brother combo of Emalie Humphreys and Sam Humphreys in the javelin. Joining them are Laura Asimakis, also in the javelin, along with a trio of Aggie jumpers in Julian Reid, Melvin Echard and Tyron Stewart.

In the sprints A&M had three women advance in the 100, four men in the 100, two women in the 400, and three men in the 400. The Aggies also qualified a 400 hurdler in the women's race and two in the men's 800.

Closing out the evening with the 10,000 meters Katherine Devlin placed 17th with a time of 34:02.43. That time is the fourth fastest performance on the A&M all-time list and Devlin's fourth mark among the top 10 performances.

Emalie Humphreys threw a career best of 173-2 (52.79) in the second round of the women's javelin while Asimakis advanced with a 162-6 (49.55) best from the opening round. They placed third and ninth, respectively.

"I've never planted that hard in my life," Humphreys said of her PR toss. "It was the best feeling in the world. I've never had a throw feel that great. It's amazing.

"Since it was raining off and on while we were throwing it felt great to get a big throw in before the rain came back during the final three throws. I'm happy I was able to put one together today, hopefully I can help my team out at nationals."

The previous best for Humphreys was a 169-10 (51.78) from the NCAA West Preliminary rounds in Austin last year.

A&M's jumpers placed eighth (Reid), ninth (Echard) and 10th (Stewart) in the long jump to make the NCAA field at Drake Stadium.

"This is definitely important since we've each had to deal with injuries this season," noted Reid. "Hopefully we can repeat this at nationals and get all three of us in the finals. We've all jumped in the 26-foot range this season. Hopefully we will all be in that form at nationals so we can score big points."

Reid led the crew with a mark of 25-0.5 (7.63). Echard followed with a 25-0 (7.62) while Stewart finished with a 24-7 (7.49).

"I feel very blessed," stated Stewart. "Last year I fouled out of the preliminary rounds. So, to come back and make it past this stage and advance to nationals I'm very glad. Especially since we all had injuries to deal with this season. It's great that we were all able to put it together today and move on."

Other schools with a pair of qualifiers included Arkansas, Nebraska and Houston. Marquise Goodwin of Texas led the field with a 26-1.75 (7.97) with Texas Tech's Bryce Lamb second at 25-6.75 (7.79).

"It's always nice to have all your guys there together, it's a nice support system," said Echard. "Today's event was all about getting to the national meet, not necessarily how far you jumped. It's a blessing, I'm so glad all three of us made it in the long jump."

Sam Humphreys threw the men's javelin later in the evening, producing a mark of 247-8 (75.50) in the third round. His first effort was a 219-9 and then he improved to 238-7. The top mark was a 253-3 (77.24) by Kyle Nielsen of Washington.

"That was the biggest thing, I just wanted to qualify for nationals," noted Humphreys. "I wanted to take the least number of throws to get there as well. I know with bigger competitions I'll have farther throws in me.

"It was a great job by my sister throwing the PR earlier in the day. I'm sure she was glad for that performance."

Andrea Sutherland ran a smooth 56.93 to win the opening heat of the 400 hurdles and advance to the quarterfinals. In placing second at the Big 12 Championships two weeks ago Sutherland had posted a career best of 56.53. She will run in the quarterfinals on Friday in Eugene.

The men's 400 meters featured three heat winners for A&M. Tabarie Henry started it off with a 45.69. Then Bryan Miller won a heat in 46.30. Demetrius Pinder clocked 45.84 to claim his heat. The Aggies registered the first, second and fourth fastest times in the opening round.

Jessica Beard claimed her heat of the 400 in 53.83 while Ibukun Mayungbe placed second in another heat with a 54.00 clocking. Both advanced to the quarterfinals.

Texas A&M advanced three of its four entrants in the women's 100. Jeneba Tarmoh led the trio with a winning time of 11.46 while Dominique Duncan (11.48) and Ashley Collier (11.47) were runner-up in their respective heats. LaKeidra Stewart (11.80) placed fifth in her heat and did not advance to the quarterfinals.

The Aggie men advanced all four sprinters through the first round of the 100 with Gerald Phiri leading the crew with a winning time of 10.31 in his heat.

Prezel Hardy, Jr. (10.37) and Tran Howell (10.39) were both runner-up in their respective heats. Michael Bryan (10.53) advanced on time after placing fifth in his heat.

Michael Preble and Joey Roberts each were second in a heat of the 800. Roberts posted the second fastest time with a 1:48.57 as he finished behind the 1:48.56 by Oregon's Elijah Greer. Preble clocked 1:49.30. Oscar Ramirez, who recorded a 1:51.83, was disqualified.

In the women's 800 Erica Parker ran a career best of 2:08.58 for sixth in her heat. That time left her 0.31 of a second behind the last qualifying time for the quarterfinals. Aliese Hyde posted a 2:09.10 for fifth in her heat.

Lisa Steinkamp recorded a windy mark of 19-1.5 (5.83) for ninth place amid the first two flights of the long jump. She placed 25th overall. Sasha-Kay Matthias placed 34th with a 18-9.75 (5.73).

In the women's shot put Taylor Rosser had a best of 46-10.75 (14.29) while Jennifer Edwards turned in a 44-2.75 (13.48). They finished 36th and 43rd.

Other Aggies in the javelin included Lauren Berg (138-5), Aly Daily (124-3) and Bonnie Richardson in the women's field and Jon Gomez (180-1) in the men's.