TEMPE, Arizona – Texas A&M’s impressive performance s at the 35th annual Sun Angel Track Classic on Saturday included a world-leading 44.90 career best from Deon Lendore in the 400 meters, a collegiate leading 56.55 career best for Shamier Little in the 400 hurdles and a school record for Shelbi Vaughan in the discus with a toss of 199-3.
The Aggies totaled 21 winning performances on the second day of the meet. Five of those wins had A&M finishing as the top collegian. A sweep of the 100 meters was achieved by Shavez Hart in 10.18 and Olivia Ekpone in 11.35 as both sprinters moved to No. 10 on the Aggie all-time list.
“What a great meet for Texas A&M,” noted Aggie head coach Pat Henry. “We had some people who had a tremendous meet. This was one of those meets where the weather was just about perfect.
“We came into the meet with the intention of trying to have as many people have a good day on the same day. That was our goal and that is how a team comes together. You have to have a lot of people really engaged in the meet and that was the meet for us this week.”
Lendore, who ran his previous best of 44.94 as the NCAA runner-up in 2013, won the 400 meters in 44.90 seconds in his first race following an injury on the anchor leg of the 4x400 during the Texas Relays at the end of March. Following Lendore in second place, with a career best of his own, was Carlyle Roudette at 45.77. Ameer Webb clocked 47.91 to place seventh in the race.
“This week was all about seeing how it feels, especially after going down at the Texas Relays,” said Lendore, who finished the 2014 indoor season with a world-leading time of 45.03. “I came out here and it was all about executing a good race. We had some other good runners in the race with Carlyle and a former teammate in Ameer.
“I just wanted to do the best I could do and ended up with a PR. I didn't expect it, but I'm happy that I have it now.”
Lendore’s time is equal to No. 5 on the A&M all-time list, matching the time by Leslie Kerr in 1981, while Roudette moves to the No. 10 spot that was occupied by a 45.93 from former Texas A&M head coach Ted Nelson from 1965.
Little and Janeil Bellille (58.12) both ran in the 400 hurdles for the Aggies and finished first and third with Penn State’s Kiah Seymour placing second in 57.07. Little’s time of 56.55 takes over the collegiate lead from a 56.60 by Kentucky’s Kendra Harrison and is No. 4 in the world for 2014. Little is No. 3 on the A&M all-time list with the No. 9 performance. Bellille, who has a 55.80 career best from 2011, is now No. 7 on the Aggie all-time list.
“I'm very excited to run a PR,” stated Little. “The weather was perfect and the track was great. It was also exciting to run with Janeil in the 400 hurdles for the first time. She always gets out well, so I know if I'm too far behind her I'm not doing well and I need to get into my race. It's just good to have her with me.
“It's a mixture of both. The training helped me get ready for the 400 indoors and lowering my time in the 400 gave me a good indication my hurdle time would get faster as well. With the technique I'm trying to go over the hurdle with my dominant leg as much as possible.”
Vaughan crushed her final warm-up throw for the discus, sending the platter over the 200-foot mark by a couple of feet. Then she opened her series with a 122-4 (37.22) that resulted in a bit of a chuckle and shrug of her shoulders.
“I just had to get some of my jitters out after warm-up,” explained Vaughan. “I was also competing against some throwers from the training center. That was a little intimidating, but not too much. Good competition is always good.”
Responding with a 179-6 (54.73) in round two, Vaughan made her presence known among a field that included the past two NCAA discus champions with a third round 192-6 (58.69). Rounds four and five resulted in marks of 173-7 (52.90) and 190-6 (58.07).
Then on her final throw Vaughan unleashed a career best of 199-3 (60.74) to place second overall and finish as the top collegian. Vaughan broke her A&M record of 198-10 (60.61) set during the Texas Relays and now is the solo holder of the No. 10 position on the U.S. collegians all-time list.
Post-collegian Whitney Ashley, the 2012 NCAA champion from San Diego State, won the event with an impressive 201-3 (61.35), claiming the U.S. lead for 2014 from Vaughan.
Finishing behind Vaughan was another pair of post-collegians in Beth Rohl (194-5) and Liz Podominick (185-1), the defending Sun Angel champion. Arizona State’s Anna Jelmini, the 2013 NCAA champ, threw 172-7 (52.60) to finish as the third collegian and placed sixth overall.
“Really good competition gets my ego up,” said Vaughan. “I'm going to go out there and beat the national champ, especially since Track & Field News predicted that she is going to defend her title. I kind of wanted to tell them 'no, she's not.' “
Little started the evening session of the Sun Angel meet running the anchor leg of a second A&M 4x100 relay that placed second in 44.48 behind the winning time of 43.87 by the first A&M sprint relay. Finishing third behind the Aggie pair was Arizona State in 44.63.
The winning sprint relay squad consisted of Jennifer Madu, Ashton Purvis, Olivia Ekpone and Ashley Collier while the runner-up crew included India Daniels, Aaliyah Brown, Ibukun Mayungbe and Little.
The Aggie men also cruised to victory in the 4x100 with a 39.89 from Prezel Hardy, Shavez Hart, Michael Bryan and Gregory Coleman with Central Arizona in second at 40.37 while Arizona State was disqualified.
To cap the evening Coleman (47.3) led off the A&M 4x400 with Hart (45.3) on second leg, where he moved the Aggies from third to first. Then Roudette (45.4) and Lendore (44.7) closed out the 3:02.67 win over Arizona State’s 3:06.12 and a 3:07.19 by Kansas.
“It's always good to see Shavez and Carlyle working to give me a lead,” noted Lendore. “They put their heart and soul into it. I'm happy to have a great relay team like this.”
A second A&M, consisting of three 800m runners, ran 3:11.60 to win their section and place fifth overall. The quartet included Deon Hickey (47.6), Hector Hernandez (47.1), Kinsey Gaines (48.1) and Josh Hernandez (48.8).
The women won the 4x400 with a time of 3:33.75, running a foursome of Ibukun Mayungbe (54.6), Kamaria Brown (52.7), Janeil Bellille (53.7) and Little (52.7), as they defeated Penn State (3:35.15), Arizona State (3:36.11) and Kansas (3:40.13).
Devin Bogert improved his best in the javelin to 239-6 (73.01) to win the premier javelin and move to No. 6 on the A&M all-time list. Hector Hernandez and Josh Hernandez finished 1-2 in the premier 800 meters with times of 1:48.66 and 1:49.71. LaQue Moen-Davis and Melissa Mays claimed the top two spots in the women’s premier triple jump with marks of 44-0 (13.41) and 41-10 (12.75).
Ashton Purvis edged out Ekpone for the 200 title as their times of 22.95 and 23.02 placed them first and third while moving them to No. 8 and No. 9 on the Aggie all-time list. Prezel Hardy, Jr. finished as the top collegian, and third overall, in the men’s 200 with a 20.56.
Winning efforts by the Aggies also included Coleman in the 400 hurdles (50.92), Ashley Chamberlain in the 800 (2:11.42), Grace Fletcher in the 1,500 (4:33.77), Ben Skrla in the discus (169-6), Dalton Rowan (186-6) as the top collegian in the premier discus, Brittany Wooten (12-6) as the top collegian in the premier pole vault, and Dylan Williams as the top collegian in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:24.72).
Brea Garrett improved her shot put best to 51-7.75 (15.74) to place third overall in the premier shot put and second among collegians. Chase Wolfle tied for second in the premier pole vault with a clearance of 17-7 (5.36).
Jessica Beard won the 400 in 51.59 to equal the meet and venue record set in 1992 by Danette Young. Kamaria Brown finished as the second collegian in the race with Beard as she ran a 52.97 to place behind the 52.90 for Arizona State’s Brianna Tate. Mayungbe ran 54.00 as the third collegian and fourth overall.
A runner-up time of 2:07.98 for frosh Katie Willard moves her to No. 5 on the Aggie all-time list with the No. 6 performance. In the mile a 4:05.01 from Cameron Villarreal placed the freshman fifth among the collegians in the race while Isaac Spencer was seventh with a 4:07.56.
Finishing behind Ekpone in the 100 were a crew of Aggies in third, fourth and sixth place with the trio of Ashley Collier (11.54), Jennifer Madu (11.56) and Aaliyah Brown (11.60). Jill Hydrick improved her best in the discus to 163-11 for second place in her section and moved to No. 8 on the A&M all-time list.