COLLEGE STATION – A national caliber field of eight teams will compete in the Texas A&M Aggie Invitational this Friday and Saturday inside cozy Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
Schools competing in the team scored Aggie Invitational this weekend include Arizona State, Baylor, Houston, LSU, TCU, UCLA and UTEP, many of which have claimed NCAA team championships in the history of their respective programs.
“Traditionally the teams we have here this weekend are track and field schools,” noted Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “They’ve all had good programs, and most have won multiple national championships such as Arizona State, LSU, Tennessee, UCLA and UTEP. So we bring in coaches of programs who understand and are intent on saying this is a great competition this weekend.
“For us it’s still a matter of climbing up that ladder as the season goes on. It’s still about trying to progress as an athlete and get a little better each week. The competition level helps that happen. That’s why we schedule good schools to come in here. It’s still a time of the year where we are thinking about getting just a little bit better, and having an expectation of getting a little bit better than last week.”
Currently, the Aggie women are ranked No. 3 in the nation and are followed by No. 9 LSU, No. 10 UCLA, No. 21 Baylor, and No. 22 Arizona State. The A&M men are ranked No. 4 nationally to headline a field that includes No. 12 Arizona State, No. 13 UTEP, No. 23 Houston and No. 24 Baylor.
Competition starts on Friday with the men’s heptathlon at 2:30 p.m. and the women’s pentathlon at 3:30 p.m. The distance medley relay will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the 5,000 meters.
Saturday’s finals start at 2 p.m. with the 3,000 meters. Earlier in the day the conclusion of the heptathlon begins at 11 a.m. while field events get underway at 1 p.m.
Jena Hemann, the school record holder in the pentathlon, will contest her first combined event this season for the Aggies while Daniel Martin competes in the heptathlon for A&M.
In the women’s 5,000 on Friday evening the Aggies will run a crew of Hillary Montgomery, Grace Fletcher, Amanda Jenkins, and Karis Jochen. Last week in Arkansas that foursome all set career best times in the 3,000 to place their names among the top 12 on the A&M all-time list. Running in the men’s 5,000 for the Aggies are Ryan Miller, Austin Geerts, Dylan Williams, Elliott Farris and Julian Castellano.
Fresh off a 52.71 in the 400 at Arkansas, Kamaria Brown will team up with Janeil Bellille and Ibukun Mayungbe in the 400 this weekend. Aldrich Bailey, Jr., who clocked a 46.25 on the Razorback track, faces a pair of LSU sprinters, Vernon Norwood and Quincy Downing, in his section of the 400.
After three consecutive victories at 60 meters this indoor season, Olivia Ekponé will challenge the 200 field along with teammate Aaliyah Brown and Shamier Little. In the section with Ekponé are UCLA’s Kylie Price, TCU’s Veronica Jones and Felicia Brown of Tennessee.
The men’s 200 will feature the Aggie foursome of Prezel Hardy, Jr. and Michael Bryan in one section with Deon Lendore and Shavez Hart in another. Baylor’s Blake Heriot and LSU’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake square off against Hardy and Bryan while TCU’s Sam Watts and Tremayne Acy of LSU face Lendore and Hart.
With the threat of the A&M school record in the weight throw being broken on any given week, current school record holders Casey Strong (66-9.75) and Brea Garrett (68-3.75) will face challenging fields this weekend.
The men’s weight field includes UCLA’s Alex Faldermeyer and Cameron Brown of Tennessee, who have each thrown over 66 feet. In the women’s field are Ida Storm of UCLA, who has thrown over 68 feet, and Baylor’s Erin Atkinson, who is in the 67 foot range.
Josh Hernandez aims for another quick 800 after posting a career best of 1:49.15 last week. The first section of the men’s race includes eight runners who have run under 1:50. Aliese Hyde faces a competitive 800 field as her section includes seven runners who have times under 2:10, including three runners from Tennessee and a pair from Baylor.
Another A&M tandem in the field events includes LaQue Moen-Davis and Jennifer Madu in the long jump while Brittany Wooten and Chase Wolfle seek higher heights in their respective pole vault events.