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Shamier Little, Deon Lendore win pair of NCAA Championship titles

June 13, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP – A&M FINALS – Day Three

MEN – 14 points, 17.5 total

400: Champion, Deon Lendore

100: Fifth, Shavez Hart

High Jump: =15th, Devion Harris

WOMEN – 31 points, 41 total

400H: Champion, Shamier Little, Third, Janeil Bellille

Triple Jump: Second, LaQue Moen-Davis

100: Fifth, Olivia Ekponé, Sixth Jennifer Madu

Heptathlon: 14th, Jena Hemann

EUGENE – A school record effort of 55.07 seconds in the 400 hurdles produced a national champion victory for Texas A&M’s precocious freshman Shamier Little in front of 10,104 fans during Friday’s action at Hayward Field while Aggie junior Deon Lendore completed a sweep of NCAA titles in winning the 400 meters with a 45.02 as he added the outdoor title to his indoor crown.

More points flowed in for A&M as LaQue Moen-Davis finished second in the women’s triple jump with a mark of 44 feet, 6 inches. The Aggie women scored 31 points on the third day of the meet to reach a total of 41. A&M men produced 14 points to improve its tally to 17.5 points.

“These are the types of performances that need to happen for us now,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry, who has won seven NCAA Outdoor team titles in 10 seasons with the Aggies. “We had some men and women really line it up today and score some big points.”

Oregon leads the women’s team chase with 43 points while A&M is second with 41. Florida and Texas are tied in third with 29 each and Georgia is fifth with 25. The Ducks have a larger lead in the men’s team scoring with 53 points ahead of Florida’s 28 with Georgia third at 24 and Wisconsin fourth with 20. Texas has 19.5 points in fifth while the Aggies are currently sixth with 17.5.

Saturday’s final day includes some key events for Texas A&M with the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, defending NCAA champion Wayne Davis II in the 110 hurdles, as well as returning NCAA runner-up Kamaria Brown and SEC champion Olivia Ekponé in the 200 meters. In addition Devin Bogert is in the javelin and Olabanji Asekun competes in the triple jump.

The Aggies totaled 16 team points in the 400 hurdles as Janeil Bellille placed third in a time of 56.14 behind SEC champion Kendra Harrison of Kentucky (55.55). LSU’s tandem of Nikita Tracey (56.35) and Chanice Chase (56.51) placed fourth and fifth.

Little’s career best time broke the A&M record of 55.24 set by Rosa Jolivet in winning the 1998 NCAA title in Buffalo. Little, who is only the second Aggie to win an NCAA 400 hurdle title, moves to No. 2 on the U.S. junior all-time list and No. 4 on the world junior all-time list.

“I’m really excited,” Little exclaimed. “I wasn’t expecting to win, I just wanted to PR again. But I was able to PR and get the win. I’m so happy about that. Finishing first and third was great with the points we were able to score.”

As the first frosh to make an NCAA final in the 400 hurdles since 2009, Little became the first freshman winner since 2002 when Lashinda Demus of South Carolina set the then world junior record of 54.85.

“You can’t say enough about a freshman stepping up in here and winning a national championship,” stated Henry. “That just doesn’t happen very often. That was a huge race for her.”

Starting the race in lane five Little had Harrison to her left and Bellille to her right. Harrison went out fast, making up the stagger on Little in the backstretch while Bellille maintained her pace ahead of Little. Through the curve Little began to claim ground on the leaders and moved into the lead after the eighth hurdle while Bellille had trouble with her steps with one of the hurdles on the curve.

On the homestretch run to the finish line Little pulled ahead of the field and charged to the victory, lowering her previous best of 55.58 set in the semifinal here two days ago. It was the sixth time this season for Little to better her time. She came into this season with a best of 57.44 from 2012.

“I just can’t even explain what I was thinking when I saw the time I ran,” said Little. “I can’t wait, now I’m so much closer to running a 54. I started gaining confidence I could win coming off the eighth hurdle. With Kendra on the inside of me it pushed me, because I knew if I let her get too far ahead of me I wouldn’t have time to catch her.”

Little had finished third in the SEC Championship race behind Harrison and Bellille, but she had won the SEC 400 title in 51.06 just an hour before. Today it was her only race of the day. Her progression of PR times this season started with a 56.55 in mid-April and has included 56.34, 56.01, 55.98, 55.58 and today’s amazing 55.07.

The current world junior leader for 2014 Little trails the following times on the all-time world junior list: 54.40, Xing Wang (China); 54.58, Ristananna Tracey (Jamaica); and 54.70, Lashinda Demus (US). On the U.S. junior all-time list Little is the No. 2 performer with the No. 3 performance as she only trails the 54.70 and 54.85 time set by Demus in 2002.

Lendore had to contend with Oregon’s Mike Berry in the homestretch of the 400 as the crowd cheered the Duck home. With a lean at the line it was Lendore with a 45.02 victory over a 45.07 from Berry. LSU’s Vernon Norwood placed third in 45.45 ahead of a 45.49 by Pittsburgh’s Brycen Spratling while Florida’s Najee Glass finished fifth in 45.63.

In winning his second NCAA 400 title this season Lendore became just the second Aggie to capture the NCAA Outdoor 400 meters. The other A&M sprinter to do so was Curtis Mills in 1969 when he set the school record of 44.67 that Lendore recently broke with a 44.36 in winning the SEC title.

A runner-up in last year’s NCAA final on the Hayward Field track, Lendore used the crowd’s reaction towards Berry as motivation to battle to the finish.

“I was trying to get the double because it’s a nice double to have,” stated Lendore. “So I’m thankful I accomplished that goal.

“It’s always good to get the win even if the time wasn’t great. Even though I didn’t execute my race the way I wanted I’m happy to come out here and do my best and get the win for my team. I know the crowd was helping Berry a lot, but I tried to use the crowd to help me power back into the lead and get the win.”

Moen-Davis, who finished third a year ago, improved to silver medal status with a leap of 44-6 (13.56) in the fifth round. Moen-Davis jumped in the first flight and was stationed in second place with a mark of 43-5.25 (13.24) from the first round.

When the second flight was complete, Moen-Davis had slipped into third place. She came back for the final three rounds and improved to 43-6w (13.26). The she produced her best effort of the competition in round five with the 44-6 effort, which is the No. 6 performance on the Aggie all-time list.

Moen-Davis also equaled the best NCAA performance by an Aggie in the NCAA Outdoor triple jump. Yasmine Regis finished second in 2009 when A&M claimed its first national team title. Shanieka Thomas of San Diego State defended her title with a 45-11.25 (14.00) while LSU’s Lynnika Pitts finished third behind Moen-Davis with a 44-1.25 (13.44).

“It wasn’t quite as far as my 44-8 last season, but to still come in second place with a 44-6 is very good,” noted Moen-Davis. “It’s been a long season for me, so placing second at nationals feels great. I could feel myself progressing and trying to find a mark that would get me closer to the board.

“While I was competing I got to watch the 400 hurdles. Seeing my teammates get on top of things and start scoring points was motivating for me to get points for the team as well.”

In the 100 meter finals the Aggies scored seven points in the women’s race and picked up four points in the men’s race.

The Aggie tandem of Olivia Ekponé and Jennifer Madu, running into a -3.4 headwind, placed fifth and sixth in the women’s final with times of 11.43 and 11.54.

The race was won by Alabama’s Remona Burchell, the NCAA Indoor 60 champion, with an 11.25 while Morolake Akinosun of Texas finished second in 11.33. Then Oregon’s Jennifer Prandini claimed third after a slow start from the blocks in 11.42 (11.416) over Florida’s Shayla Sanders 11.42 (11.417).

Shavez Hart clocked 10.15 (1.8 wind) for fifth place in the men’s 100 as Baylor’s Trayvon Bromell broke the world junior record with a 9.97 victory. Florida State’s Dentarius Locke repeated his runner-up finish from 2013 with a 10.02 over USC’s Aaron Brown (10.07) while Justin Walker of Northwestern State placed fourth in 10.12.

Devion Harris finished in a three-way tie for 15th place in the high jump, clearing 6-10.75 (2.10) as three misses at 7-0.5 (2.15) knocked him out of the competition.

In the heptathlon Jena Hemann scored 5,410 points to place 14th. Her second day included an 18-5 long jump (732 points) and a 146-7 (757) in the javelin. She capped the day with a 2:24.96 (757) in the 800.

Fabrice Lapierre finishes fourth in Commonwealth Games long jump
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