COLLEGE STATION - Casey Strong added two feet to his weight throw school record in winning the event at the Texas A&M Reveille Invitational held Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium in front of 1,345 fans.
Strong bettered his previous best of 61-10.25 (18.85) five times in his series topping out with a 63-10.5 (19.47) winning mark. Phil Steinert of UTSA finished second with a toss of 62-5 while A&M teammates Ben Skrla (55-5.5), Landon Hartwick (54-5.25) and Dalton Rowan (54-0) finished 3-4-5. Skrla moved to No. 8 on the Aggie all-time list with Rowan at No. 11.
"My goal today was to come out here and continue what I've been doing in practice and fun with the meet," said Strong. "I've been working real hard this fall with Coach De La Garza, focusing on my speed and quickness. It's paid off a lot.
"My series was really consistent and I'm really happy with the marks. Hopefully that will continue when we compete again next semester in January. I'm looking forward to joining the SEC and seeing the competition. I want to improve each meet and have fun."
That was one of many highlights for the Aggies, who played host to Houston and UT-San Antonio in its first indoor meet of the season.
A&M frosh Jennifer Madu recorded a speedy win in the 60 while Brea Garrett claimed a pair of victories in the throwing events. Prezel Hardy, Jr. claimed the men's 60 while the men's 800 victor was decided by 0.002 of a second between Aggies Josh Hernandez and Hector Hernandez.
Capping the Reveille Invitational with a flourish, the A&M men's 4 x 400 posted a winning time of 3:06.82 while the Aggie women won in 3:40.11. The previous best for the A&M men in a December meet was the 3:07.43 meet record they set last year.
"This meet has turned into a pretty good competition before teams break for Christmas," noted Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry, now in his ninth season with the Aggies. "Any time you have a school record or run one of the faster mile relays this time of year it's a good sign.
"This meet is about getting some of our younger athletes in this environment and letting the people in the stands recognize who they are and what they are capable of doing. For the athletes, it's a chance for them to represent something more than just themselves. It's good for them to learn how to do that."
Madu's debut in the 60 meters produced a winning time of 7.36 seconds, No. 6 on the A&M all-time list. Madu bettered a field that included five other teammates posting the top six times. Ashley Collier finished second in 7.44 with LaKeidra Stewart third at 7.45. The rest of the Aggie crew included India Daniels (7.48), Ashton Purvis (7.51) and Olivia Ekpone (7.52).
"Those are the girls I work out with and practice with every day," said Madu, a four-event Texas State champion her senior season with Plano East. "I knew it was going to be a good race, regardless of the time. The time was close to my PR of 7.32 and to run that this early in the season I was impressed.
"It was nice to have one race today and then go sit down and watch the rest of the meet. At the same time I wanted to do something else. Come January if I'm in two or three events, I'll be fine."
Garrett set a personal best in the weight throw as her 58-10 (17.93) mark bettered teammate Jennifer Edwards, who matched her PR for the third time at 58-6 (17.83). Both efforts broke the meet record of
57-9.5 (17.61) set by Aggie Deidre Tarver in 2009.
In the shot put Garrett hit a mark of 48-3.25 (14.71) in the final round to secure the win after four consecutive fouls. Zaquita McClananhan finished second with a 47-7.75 (14.52).
"I'm excited and ready for a good year," noted Garrett. "I'm just doing everything I need to do to stay focused and healthy. I want to throw far in the upcoming meets. My goal is to go to the SECs and make a contribution to this team."
Hardy, Jr. managaed to hold off a pair of Houston Cougars for the 60 meter win. With a 6.73 Hardy, Jr. claimed the race over Leshon Collins (6.78) and Errol Nolan (6.82) of Houston. The next three positions were taken by the Aggie crew of Ricky Babineaux (6.84), Jermaine Davis (6.87) and Aldrich Bailey, Jr. (6.87).
A thrilling finish in the men's 800 had A&M teammates battling for the victory over the final stages of the race. Josh Hernandez (1:53.402) and Hector Hernandez (1:53.404) were separated by the thinnest of margins as each was credited with a time of 1:53.41 while another Aggie, Nick Rollo, finished third in 1:54.24.
Facing a spirited effort from Houston in the 4 x 400 relay, Texas A&M led off Ricky Babineaux against the Cougars' Nolan. Babineaux split 47.4 with Nolan giving Houston the edge on the first leg. Bailey, Jr. provided the Aggies with a 46.81 carry on the second leg as he managed to slip ahead of Houston's Garrett Hughey.
Carlyle Roudette maintained A&M's advantage with a 46.60 third leg and handed the baton over to Deon Lendore, who earned a bronze relay medal with Trinidad & Tobago during the London Olympics, cruised to an anchor split of 46.0 for the meet record win. Houston ran 3:07.60 for second with a second A&M squad in third at 3:14.36.
"Recently we had a time trial at practice, so that was the first time I was able to see where I was at with my speed following the surgery I had after the Olympics," stated Lendore. "That time trail went well, so I knew I still had something in me to come out here today.
"I was kind of surprised to see how fast we were going through the first three legs of the relay at this time of the year. Now I'm looking forward to a wonderful Christmas break and knowing that we are going into the SEC everything will be better."
The Aggie women went 1-2 in the 4 x 400 relay with times of 3:40.11 and 3:45.61 with Houston in third at 3:45.98. The first place unit included Janeil Bellille (53.4), Ibukun Mayungbe (53.7), LaKeidra Stewart (55.3) and Jillian Anderson (57.7). A&M's second crew included Kanika Beckles (55.5), Olivia Ekpone (54.8), Jessica Laseak (58.0) and Aliese Hyde (57.3).
Jena Hemann set a meet record in winning the high jump at 5-8.5 (1.74) while Jordan Wilson topped the long jump field with a 18-9.25 (5.72) effort.
Brittany Wooten was the top collegian in the pole vault as she cleared 12-3.25 (3.74) and moved to No. 5 on the Aggie all-time list. Catherine Chenault finished third with a mark of 11-5.75 (3.50) to claim No. 8 on the all-time list.
Colin Slattery and Ryan Miller teamed up for a 1-2 finish in the 5,000 meters. Slattery won in 14:52.40 with Miller clocking 14:57.39. In the mile, Colin Stoeber (4:19.96) and Cameron Thornton (4:20.51) were the second and third best collegians.
Dustin Phillips and Chase Wolfle tied for second in the pole vault as each cleared 16-0.75 (4.90) behind the winning height and meet record of 17-0.5 (5.20) by Taylor Reed of UTSA. Dalton Rowan's 50-11.5 (15.53) effort in the shot put placed him as the second best collegian behind a meet record 61-0 (18.59) from Richard Garrett of UTSA.