AUSTIN, Texas — Texas A&M defended its 4×800 title at the 85th Texas Relays in record fashion, breaking a 27-year-old meet record in the process with a winning time of 7:15.99 on Thursday evening at Myers Stadium. They eclipsed the mark of 7:16.21 set by Jackson State in 1985.
The Aggies achieved the accomplishment with a set of four runners who were all Texas preps. The crew included James Bonn (1:49.5), Joey Roberts (1:47.2), Oscar Ramirez (1:50.0) and Michael Preble (1:49.3).
“These guys are great, we practice every day together and know what each of us can do,” said Preble, who set the A&M 800m record last weekend in Los Angeles with a 1:46.43 victory. “You know they are going to give you everything they can.
“We were just trying to win and break the record. We wanted to see what kind of time we could run after all of us ran so well in the 800 last week at USC. We wanted to put a good time on the track. We were able to get the record, so it was good.”
Bonn took the lead on the opening leg of the race by the first 200 meters and increased A&M’s advantage to 20 meters by the time he handed the baton to Roberts.
“I saw Baylor take it out and I thought I have to give my team every inch possible, so I took over the lead,” Bonn said. “When I finished the first lap I knew I had to put more of a gap on everybody else.
“I knew my leg would be crucial. If I could get us the lead for my guys we were going to seal the victory.”
Each following leg for the Aggies added 10 more meters to the lead over the field of 16 teams. Baylor placed second in 7:22.99 while Kent State finished third in 7:26.36.
“There are so many combinations this team can put out,” Roberts said. “Just to have this opportunity, each week is an opportunity for us. I’m glad we finally got to run this event this season. We’ve all been excited for it since we all train together as well. Now we’ve made a statement and shown who is the top dog.”
Ramirez added: “This is the event we run, so when we can combine our talents for a relay it’s fun to see what we can do. Seeing how we’ve progressed this season and during our career at Texas A&M has been amazing. This event is made for us. It’s a blessing to be here with these guys.”
When the Aggies won this event in 2011, with a 7:19.57 clocking, it was the first time for an A&M squad to do so since 1945 at the Texas Relays. In breaking the 1985 meet record of 7:16.21 set by Jackson State the Aggies collected its fourth win in this event, with the first title being won in 1943.
A&M set the school record with their 2011 Texas Relays win, but then lowered it to 7:14.02 in placing third at the Penn Relays.
“That was the tough thing about this race,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “They ran hard last weekend in setting PRs in the race at USC. To be able to come back six days later after flying across the country is the most difficult thing.
“I’m surprised and very pleased with this effort today. That doesn’t happen very often. You don’t bounce back from PRs and everybody still runs pretty good the next week. I think that shows a lot of character in this group of young men.”
Abilene Christian’s Levance Williams won the section B long jump with his best performance as a Wildcat. The JC transfer in his second season at ACU jumped 24-10 to claim the title and move to second on the 2012 performer list for NCAA Division II.
He also had the second best jump of Friday’s competition (24-7). His top mark came in the sixth and final round. Williams ran on Abilene Christiain’s winning 4×100 relay at last year’s Lone Star Conference meet and placed seventh at the NCAA Division II national meet in the long jump.
Division III McMurry’s Saint Preux reached the finals of the 110 meter hurdles at the Texas Relays by running a time of 14.36 in Friday’s preliminaries.
Saint Preux was in the top heat for the event, as he finished with the third-fastest time in his heat. It also ended up being the third-best qualifying time, as well. His time is curently the fastest in the nation by nearly a half-second (previous national leader was 14.84 seconds).