LEXINGTON – Texas A&M delivered an impressive display of winning SEC titles on the final day of the conference championships at the University of Kentucky Track and Field complex and the Aggie men claimed the team title while the women finished third.
Texas A&M accumulated 13 victories on SEC Championship Sunday. At one point they rolled off five consecutive victories in the 110 hurdles, both 400 meters, and both 100 meter races. The Aggies swept five events, which included the 100, 200, 400, 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
“Our team was ready to go today,” stated Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “They lined it up and there were some tremendous efforts from this team today. Some of the things the group did today were big time.
“That’s our team and I love the fact that we are a team of men and women. They feed off each other’s performances. We had a lot of emotional people today do things that they’re prepared to do, but just didn’t know they could do it.”
The Aggie men amassed 155 points to win the team title over 116.5 for three-time defending champion Arkansas. Florida finished third with 93 points while Georgia was fourth at 92. The rest of the field included Mississippi (78), Kentucky (65.5), Auburn (50), LSU (43), Alabama (34), Mississippi State (26), Tennessee (24.5), Mississippi State (26), Tennessee (24.5), South Carolina (23) and Missouri (18.5).
Arkansas women scored 123 points for the team title over 116.5 for Florida and 113 by the Aggies while Kentucky finished fourth with 104 points. The rest of the field included Georgia (70.5), LSU (65.5), Missouri (62), Alabama (36), Auburn (30), Tennessee (28), Mississippi State (26), South Carolina (25.5), Vanderbilt (15) and Mississippi (4).
Seven SEC titles for the men included Deon Lendore winning the 400 meters in a school record 44.36 and anchoring the 4x100 (38.50) and 4x400 (3:01.19) relays to victory. Prezel Hardy, Jr. swept the 100 (10.31) and 200 meters (20.16), Wayne Davis II improved his school record in the 110 hurdles (13.23), Gregory Coleman claimed the 400 hurdles (49.88).
The Aggie women won six events with Olivia Ekponé capturing titles in the 100 (11.11) and 200 (22.23) meters and anchored the 4x400 relay (3:28.59) to victory. She earned the Commissioner’s Trophy for being the high point scorer with 22.5 points.
Shelbi Vaughan blasted her own school record in the discus with a 208-8 (63.60). Shamier Little won the 400 meters (51.06) and the A&M women claimed an eighth consecutive 4x100 relay (43.20) victory.
“Prezel Hardy had a tremendous day and Olivia Ekpone was just unbelievable,” noted Henry. “Shelbi Vaughan is tremendous athlete as well, setting a new school record. To win all four relays at the SEC Championships is huge for us. It’s one of our goals and one of the things we are trying to do.
“On the ladies side Kamaria Brown didn’t run in the 200 or 400 today and that might have been 10 more points for us. That’s just the way it is, she got a little bit hurt during the sprint relay and we decided we couldn’t let her run in her open events.”
Ekponé triple victory included a pair of impressive records in the 200 meters, a career best in the 100 meters at 11.11 and a split of 49.9 as the anchor leg on the 4x400 relay.
With a time of 22.23 (-0.8 wind) she broke the A&M school record of 22.25 set by Simone Facey in 2008. Ekponé also bettered the SEC Championship meet record of 22.35 that was set by Debbie Ferguson of Georgia in 1999 as well as LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan in 2013.
On the all-time collegiate list Ekponé equals the No. 3 performer with the No. 4 performance, trailing only Dawn Sowell (LSU) with a 22.04(A) from 1989 and Duncan’s 22.19 from 2012. She ran the same time as USC’s Carol Rodriguez from 2006.
“It was definitely a very busy weekend for myself and the rest of the Aggies,” said Ekponé. “We had a lot of pressure on the women’s side and I wanted to live up to those expectations. It was exciting to set those records. It’s just an honor to be out here and it was a great atmosphere. The SEC is a really strong conference to run in, so I just wanted to make sure I did what I was supposed to do today.”
Vaughan moved to No. 9 and then No. 6 on the all-time collegiate list in the discus with a series that included marks of 204-2 (62.25), foul, 197-0 (60.06), 198-7 (60.53), 198-11 (60.64) and 208-8 (63.60). Runner-up to Vaughan, some 33 feet back, was Madison Jacobs of Kentucky with a 175-7 (53.52) with Jill Rushin of Missouri in third at 172-10 (52.69).
“It was a great series and amazing to get over 200 feet,” noted Vaughan. “I’ve been waiting since my senior year in high school to throw 200 and I finally got it in my sophomore year. It was exciting to have 200-plus throws on my first and last attempts today. I’m usually known for scratching my first two throws and barely getting to the finals in big meets like this, so that was a pleasant change for me.
“Where I was throwing I kept hearing Texas A&M so many times winning events over the PA. Before I started my event we were sitting in eighth place in team scoring and when I finished we were in first place.”
A sweep of the 4x100 relay titles opened the running portion of the final day. Texas A&M became the first school to win both sprint relays since LSU in 1998. The Aggie men set a SEC Championship meet record of 38.50 to better the 38.53 set by Florida in 2011.
For the A&M women it was the eighth consecutive conference title and the second victory in the SEC. The foursome of Jennifer Madu, Ashton Purvis, Kamaria Brown and Ashley Collier clocked 43.20 to defeat Kentucky (43.25) and Florida (43.29) with Alabama fourth (44.20). LSU did not finish.
The Aggie men ran a crew of Shavez Hart, Aldrich Bailey, Jr., Prezel Hardy, Jr. and Deon Lendore as they topped the field with a 38.50 over a 38.68 run by both LSU (38.676) and Florida (38.680). A&M placed third last year in the SEC after winning Big 12 titles in 2011 and 2012.
Davis just missed the SEC meet record of 13.22 set by Aries Merritt of Tennessee in 2006 as he bettered the Aggie school record of 13.35 he set in the prelims. Davis controlled the race from the start in claiming a 13.23 (0.4 wind) victory with expected challengers Omar McLeod of Arkansas (13.57) and Florida’s Eddie Lovett (13.58) taking second and third place. On the all-time collegiate list Davis is now equal No. 5 with the No. 7 performance.
“It’s a blessing and I’m not that surprised with the time, but I’m glad it’s wind legal,” said Davis. “I wanted to show people I can run these times without the wind. This performance projects that I’m going to do really well at the NCAA West preliminaries as well as nationals. Those are the meets where I usually shine the most. I’m way ahead of where I was last year and feel blessed.”
Texas A&M swept the 400 titles, for the first time since 1997, with Little and Lendore dominating each race. Little ran 51.06 to equal the second fastest time in school history and the fourth fastest performance. She is tied with Clora Williams, who ran 51.06 in the 2006 NCAA semifinal.
On the all-time U.S. Junior list Little ranks No. 9 to move ahead of Jessica Beard’s 51.09. Little also is the current world junior leader in the 400 as well as the 400 hurdles.
Little’s time in the 400 final was a full second faster than runner-up Robin Reynolds of Florida (52.08) with another Gator, Destinee Gause, in third place at 52.41. A&M’s Ibukun Mayungbe placed seventh with a 53.25, but Kamaria Brown did not start the race after feeling tightness in her leg after the 4x100 relay.
Lendore, who is now No. 7 on the collegiate all-time list with the No. 9 performance, remained undefeated in conference in the 400 meters through six races as he swept the indoor and outdoor SEC titles. His time of 44.36 broke an A&M school record of 44.67 set by Curtis Mills in winning the 1969 NCAA title. Runner-up to Lendore was Vernon Norwood of LSU in 45.17 with Florida’s Najee Glass third with a 45.40.
The Aggies also had Bralon Taplin finish fourth in the race with a 45.66 and Carlyle Roudette placed sixth at 45.80. The race featured three A&M sprinters, along with three Gators and three LSU Tigers in the nine-man field.
A sweep of the 100 meters followed for the Aggies with the exploits of Ekponé and Hardy. The 11.11 (1.3 wind) by Ekpone is a career best that places her No. 3 on the A&M all-time list with the No. 3 performance. A lean at the finish had her edging out Remona Burchell of Arkansas, who ran 11.12, while favorite Dezerea Bryant of Kentucky placed third in 11.24.
The Aggie women added points with Aaliyah Brown in fifth place (11.36), Ashton Purvis seventh (11.51) and Jennifer Madu eighth (11.55).
Hardy, who won the Big 12 100 meters in 2012, returned to the top spot on the podium with a 10.31 (-0.8) clocking with teammate Shavez Hart in the runner-up position at 10.35. They bettered the Florida tandem of Antwan Wright (10.36) and Dedric Dukes (10.38).
Janeil Bellille and Little finished second and third in the 400 hurdles with career best times of 55.67 and 56.01, respectively, behind the winning time of 54.76 from Kendra Harrison of Kentucky. Bellille moves to No. 2 on the Aggie all-time list with the No. 2 performance while Little is No. 3 with the No. 5 performance.
Coleman set a career best of 49.88 in winning the men’s 400 hurdles over Drew Branch of Georgia (50.41) and the Mississippi duo of Scottie Hearn (50.66) and Javon Davis (50.90). Kenneth Minkah added fifth-place points with a time of 51.32. In running his first sub-50 time in the hurdles, Coleman is now No. 6 on the A&M all-time list with the No. 10 performance.
In the 200 meters Ekponé and Hardy completed their respective sprint sweeps. With a 22.23 Ekponé defeated Kentucky’s Bryant, the NCAA Indoor 200m champion, who finished second in 22.68 while A&M claimed third with A. Brown in 23.12 and fifth place with Purvis in 23.32.
Hardy repeated the sprint double he claimed as a sophomore in the Big 12 in winning the 200 with a time of 20.16. Hart finished second again with a 20.35 over Dukes of Florida (20.41).
The final two wins for the Aggies came in the 4x400 relay where the women clocked 3:28.59 and the men posted a SEC Championship meet record of 3:01.19.
Running on the women’s relay were Bellille (52.5), Mayungbe (52.3), A. Brown (53.9) and Ekponé (49.9). Florida placed second in 3:29.49 with Arkansas finished third in 3:29.58.
The men’s foursome included Taplin (45.9), Bailey (45.6), Roudette (45.3) and Lendore (44.2)as they delivered a victory over Florida’s 3:03.04 and a 3:04.33 from LSU.
Hector Hernandez challenged for another A&M win when he placed second in the 800 meters with a time of 1:47.84 behind the winning time of 1:47.59 by Mississippi State’s Brandon McBride.
LaQue Moen-Davis produced a runner-up finish in the triple jump with a leap of 44-6.75 (13.58) while teammate Jordan Wilson placed eighth (41-8.5). Florida’s Ciarra Brewer won the event with a 45-7.75 effort.
In the pole vault Chase Wolfle set a career best of 18-3 (5.56) to finish third behind 18-6 clearances by winner Sam Kendricks of Mississippi and runner-up Jake Blakenship of Tennessee. Wolfle moves to No. 2 on the Aggie all-time list with the No. 3 performance. Only school record holder Greg West is ahead of Wolfle with vaults of 18-4.5 (1990) and 18-3.25 (1988).
The Aggies utilized a series of fourth-place finishes, which net five points each, to assist in building its margin of victory over the Razorbacks.
The first scorer on the final day for the Aggies was Devin Bogert, who placed fourth in the javelin with a toss of 226-2 (68.94) to finish ahead of Florida’s Stipe Zunic (225-8). Kentucky’s Raymond Dykstra won the event with a 250-10 mark. Bogert improved upon his fifth place effort from last year.
Cameron Villarreal claimed fourth in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:16.79 with Isaac Spencer just missing out on scoring in a second event as he placed ninth in 14:29.41. Devion Harris cleared 6-11.75 (2.13) for fourth place in the high jump.
Triple jump points included Olabanji Asekun placing sixth (50-10.25) while Jeffrey Prothro place ninth (49-7.75) for A&M.