COLLEGE STATION - Texas A&M hosts the Mondo Challenge
this Friday and Saturday at Gilliam Indoor Stadium featuring two teams each
from the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12. The Aggies will pair up with Tennessee in the
SEC while TCU and Texas Tech form the Big 12 alliance and the Pac-12 is represented
by Arizona State and USC.
Action begins at 6 p.m. on Friday evening with finals in
the distance medley relay, the women's 5000 meters and a pentathlon. On
Saturday finals begin at 2 p.m. Live results will be available through www.flashresults.com and a live web
steam of the meet is available through www.aggieathletics.com.
Olympic development races in the 200 and 400 meters will
feature Aggie All-Americans who are competing as post-collegians. In the
women's 200, Jessica Beard and Dominique Duncan square off while Andrea
Sutherland runs in the 400. On the men's side Tabarie Henry and Michael Preble
will compete in the 400.
In the third consecutive home meet for Texas A&M this
indoor season the Aggies will see the debut of a three new additions to the
team during the Mondo Challenge in Juan Blanco, Elliott Farris, and Bralon
Taplin, who competed at Round Rock Stony Point in high
school as well as South Plains junior college, was the Texas high school 5A
state champion in the 400 meters in 2010, clocking a winning time of 47.03
seconds. Taplin also claimed the 2012 NJCAA 400m title in 46.00. In 2012, he
recorded a career best time of 45.36 in the 400 at the Red Raider Invitational
in Lubbock, where he also anchored a 3:01.32 winning 4 x 400 relay.
Blanco, a sophomore from El Paso Eastwood High School,
comes to A&M after spending his freshman season at UTEP. Farris, a
freshman, was home schooled in El Paso and has recorded best times of 4:01.23
for the 1,500 and 8:44.88 for 3,000 meters. Blanco was a member of the Miners
distance medley relay that placed fourth in Conference USA and recorded a
career best of 4:14.32 in the mile along with an 8:34.74 in the 3,000 meters.
Outdoors, Blanco posted a 1:53.55 in the 800 and 4:04.37 over 1,500m.
Taplin is scheduled to make his debut on Friday evening
running the 400m leg of the distance medley relay. Joining Taplin are James
Bonn in the opening 1200m leg, Nick Rollo in the 800m portion and Colin
Slattery anchoring the mile leg. Texas A&M women's distance medley relay is
expected to run with the order of Ashley Chamberlain, LaKeidra Stewart, Aliese
Hyde and Sophie Blake.
Annie Kunz will compete in the pentathlon for the Aggies on
Friday. She is currently third on the A&M all-time list with a score of
3,823 points from last year's conference meet. The school record in the event
is 3,919 set by Daphne Fitzpatrick in 2011.
A highlight race on Saturday is likely to be the men's
mile where A&M school record holder Henry Lelei faces NCAA cross country
champion Kennedy Kithuka from Texas Tech. Lelei finished fifth in the NCAA
Championship race this past fall.
After winning a pair of long jump titles the past two
weeks, where she currently tops the U.S. and collegiate list with a mark of
20-11.25 (6.38), Aggie frosh LaQue Moen-Davis will triple jump during the Mondo
Challenge and compete in the 60 hurdles with teammate Donique' Flemings.
In the men's sprints Michael Bryan headlines the Aggie
entries in the 60, and he will join Aldrich Bailey, Jr. and Ameer Webb in the
200. In the 400, Carlyle Roudette, fresh off a career best 47.38, will share
the same section with teammate Ricky Babineaux.
Hector Hernandez moved to No. 10 on the Aggie all-time
list in the 800 with a 1:51.09 from last week. He will join James Bonn, Cameron
Thornton and Raul Ramirez in the first section of the event this week.
Women sprints will feature the Aggie trio of Ashley
Collier, Jennifer Madu and Ashton Purvis in the 60. Madu and Purvis are also in
the 200 with Olivia Ekponé, Chandrell Stephens and LaKeidra Stewart. For the
400, A&M will run Kamaria Brown and Kanika Beckles.
Casey Strong will be hunting another school record in the
weight throw after accomplishing his goal of 65 feet last week. Strong, who
currently has the A&M record mark at 65-0.75 (19.83), has improved his
school record while claiming four consecutive victories this season.
The women's throwing events are highlighted by Arizona
State shot putter Anna Jelmini and Tennessee's Jessie Harrison in the weight.
They will be challenged by Brea Garrett and Shelbi Vaughan in the shot put
while Garrett teams up with Jennifer Edwards and Jill Hydrick in the weight