FAYETTEVILLE – First day of the NCAA West preliminary rounds produced a trio of Aggie field event athletes earning a berth to the NCAA Championship weekend in Eugene with Chase Wolfle in the pole vault, Devin Bogert in the javelin and Olabanji Asekun in the long jump.
Meanwhile, on the track the Aggies qualified to the quarterfinals very well with 18 athletes advancing out of 20 entries A&M had in the men’s and women’s 400 hurdles, 100, 400 and 800 meters.
Wolfle became the first qualifier to Eugene for the Aggie men as he cleared 17-7 (5.36) in the pole vault. When seven vaulters made it over that height the competition stopped. Joining those over 17-7 in advancing to Eugene for the NCAA Championship weekend were five of the seven who had cleared 17-3 (5.26).
Passing at the opening height of 16-3.25 Wolfle cleared 16-9.25 (5.11) on his first attempt. He then needed three tries to get over 17-3. At 17-7, though, he sailed over the bar on the first try. Joining Wolfle over 17-7 in the second flight of vaulters was Washington’s Jax Thoirs.
In the javelin Bogert placed seventh with a toss of 219-4 (66.86). His series in the third flight moved from an opener of 206-11 to 210-11 and then a 219-4 in round three. Going into the final three rounds in fifth place, Bogert had marks of 211-10 and 201-11 on his fourth and fifth throws. This will be Bogert’s third trip to the NCAA Championships where he has placed 12th the past two years.
Asekun’s first leap of 24-11.75 was his best mark and placed 10th overall in the long jump. Asekun followed with marks of 24-1, 24-6.5, foul, 24-2.5 and a foul. He qualifies for his first NCAA Outdoor Championship, which will be held June 11-14 at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Just missing making the top 12 in the women’s shot put was Brea Garrett, who placed 13th with a best of 51-9.25. A mark of 52-0 earned the final position that advanced to Eugene. Brittany Wooten tied for 15th in the pole vault when she missed 13-7 after clearing 13-3 on her second attempt. Eight athletes making the NCAA Championship field cleared 13-7 while four others who made 13- with fewer misses also move on to Eugene.
In first round races on the track SEC champion Gregory Coleman claimed the first heat of the 400 hurdles in 50.54 as he cruised to the victory over BYU’s duo of Mark Carlson (50.99) and Korey Smith (51.46). Returning NCAA runner-up Michael Stigler of Kansas posted the top time with a 49.84 while Coleman’s effort ranked fourth overall.
Kenneth Minkah placed third in his heat with a time of 51.46 amid a close finish for the top three automatic places for the next round. Minkah was just off his career best of 51.32 set in placing fifth at the SEC Championships. Finishing fourth behind Minkah, and advancing on time, was UTSA’s Joshua Smith in 51.50.
Janeil Bellille and Shamier Little navigated a wet track to prelim victories in the 400 hurdles. Bellille, the SEC runner-up, posted the top qualifying time with a 57.00 while Little won her heat in 57.66, the fourth best time in qualifying. Both earned automatic advancement to the quarterfinals.
Little ran first, taking the fourth heat comfortably over Montana’s Kourtney Danreuther (58.52). Bellille then cruised in her victory over Wyoming’s Taylor Gardner (58.90). Other leading qualifiers included Arizona’s Nnenya Hailey (57.10), Danielle Dowie of Texas (57.49) and Iowa State’s Eseroghene Okoro (57.69).
In the 100 meters Shavez Hart ran 10.27 as runner-up to USC’s Aaron Brown (10.23) while Prezel Hardy, Jr. finished third in his heat with a 10.35. Michael Bryan ran 10.49 for fourth place in a heat and advanced on time.
The women’s 100 had heat winners by Olivia Ekponé (11.35) and Ashton Purvis (11.35) while teammates placed second in the same heat with Jennifer Madu (11.51) following Ekponé and Aaliyah Brown (11.39) trailing Purvis. Ashley Collier ran 11.76 for fourth place in the final heat, but missed the last time qualifier position by 0.002 of a second.
Texas A&M posted four of the six fastest times in the men’s 400 with Bralon Taplin leading the qualifying with a 45.36 that equaled his career best time from 2012. Deon Lendore recorded the second best time with a 45.62. Another heat winner was Carlyle Roudette in 46.06 while Aldrich Bailey, Jr. placed third in the same heat with Taplin at 46.15.
The lone entrant for the Aggies in the women’s 400, Ibukun Mayungbe advanced to the quarterfinals by placing third in a season best time of 53.22.
Hector Hernandez and Josh Hernandez both advanced in the 800 as they raced in the same heat. Hector finished second in the race with a 1:49.54 to earn an automatic advancement while Josh placed fourth in 1:50.40 and was the last time qualifier by 0.03 of a second. In the women’s 800 Katie Williard placed sixth in 2:09.99 and was 31st overall.
Friday’s action includes the quarterfinal races in the prelim races contested on Thursday along with opening rounds in the 110 hurdles, 200 meters and the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Field events with Aggies involved include the men’s hammer, women’s discus, women’s triple jump, and men’s high jump.
LaQue Moen-Davis placed 21st in the women’s long jump with a mark of 19-7 after recording a pair of fouls to start the competition. Moen-Davis needed a 19-9 to get three more attempts while a 20-0 effort was needed to be among the top 12. Kendall Munoz (149-4) finished 23rd in the javelin while Krystyn Bradley (145-3) was 27th.
The women’s 10,000 meter race, where the top 12 advanced to Eugene, had Karis Jochen placing 36th with a time of 35:58.39 as Hillary Montgomery finished 40th with a 36:37.90.