Texas A&M puts prowess on display with individual, team wins at Penn Relays
PHILADELPHIA -- On the final day of the 119th Penn Relay Carnival, Texas A&M put its sprint, hurdle and relay prowess on display in front of 48,871 fans at Franklin Field with eight victories Saturday. The Aggies claimed a dozen victories during the course of the three-day festival, which attracted an attendance tally of 111,284.
“This team did a fine job up here,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “This has been the best effort from a team I’ve had at this meet in a long, long time. To win that many championships at this meet is significant. This team definitely left a mark this weekend.”
Within a span of an hour and a half Saturday, Texas A&M won six events as they swept the men’s and women’s Championship of America titles in the 4x200 relays, the 100/110 hurdles and the 100 meters. Earlier in the day A&M had a win in the college division triple jump and then the Aggies closed out the meet with a victory in the men’s 4x400 while the women placed third.
Individual victories were attained by Donique’ Flemings in the 100 hurdles (13.11 seconds), Wayne Davis II in the 110 hurdles (13.67), Olivia Ekponé in the 100 meters (11.37 career-best) and Ameer Webb in the 100 meters (10.24).
“In the 100 meters and the hurdles, to run those times on this track, is a very good effort,” Henry said. “Running Ameer Webb on the 4x400 gave us a little different look and that is what we wanted to do.”
Webb had a hand in three of the A&M men’s victories on Saturday, running the anchor leg of the 4x200 and the leadoff leg in the 4x400 in addition to his individual win in the 100.
“This is what Texas A&M is all about, we come here to compete,” Webb said. “My plan was to just go out and beat someone [Saturday]. In a relay you have people you have to depend on. In the 100 it’s all you, focusing on your race and doing whatever steps it takes to get the win.”
The Aggie women ran a collegiate-leading 1 minute, 29.98 secionds for the 4x200 victory, recording the third-fastest time in school history. They topped the field by 2 1/2 seconds. The A&M foursome included Ashton Purvis, Ashley Collier, Ekponé and Kamaria Brown.
The 1:29.98 is also the fourth-fastest time in Penn Relays history. The Aggies have possession of four of the top five times ever run at Penn, including the collegiate record of 1:29.42 set in 2010. This was the fifth Penn Relays title in the 4x200 for Texas A&M in the past six years.
Finishing behind the Aggies in the 4x200 were Rutgers (1:32.55), G.C. Foster (1:33.07), Indiana Tech (1:33.46), Houston (1:33.46), Norfolk State (1:34.03), George Mason (1:34.51) and South Carolina (1:34.86).
Entering this year’s Penn Relays with 11 relay victories in the past five years, the Aggie women added three more Championship of America relay wins this year to total 14 trophies in the past six seasons. It’s the second time in three years the A&M women have claimed three relay victories at Penn.
In the men’s 4x200 the Aggies won with a 1:20.75, 10th-best in Penn Relays history and fourth-fastest in school history. The relay crew consisted of Michael Bryan, Prezel Hardy Jr., Aldrich Bailey Jr. and Webb, each of who won their first Penn Relays watch.
A&M expected a strong challenge from UTech, which won the 4x100 earlier in day with a 38.92, and St. Augustine’s, runner-up in the 4x100 with a 39.33. The first exchange of the baton eliminated UTech as it never completed the pass. Meanwhile, the Aggies had a solid start with the exchange from Bryan to Hardy.
When Bailey handed the baton to Webb, stretching the zone a bit, A&M was in control of the outcome. Webb motored to the finish with St. Augustine’s placing second in 1:21.51. The rest of the field included Middle Tennessee (1:23.38), Savannah State (1:23.65), Pittsburgh (1:23.77), South Carolina (1:23.82) and Tennessee (1:23.35).
Flemings advanced to her first final in the 100 hurdles at the Penn Relays and promptly won with a season-best time of 13.11 (0.5 wind), which is currently the fifth-fastest Division I time in 2013.
Flemings defeated a field that included Danielle Williams of Johnson C. Smith (13.15), South Carolina’s Kierre Beckles (13.16), Kayla Parker of Kentucky (13.29), Houston’s Sade Mariah Greenidge (13.35), Evonne Britton of Penn State (13.37), UTech’s Megan Simmonds (13.48), and Kristen Brown of San Diego State (13.69).
“I been practicing for this and trying to do everything correctly,” Flemings said. “I had to get out there, finish well, and don't let anything distract me. I just had to worry about my lane and finish the race. I knew it was going to be close. I just knew I had to concentrate on my race, and just finish.”
Davis won the 110 hurdles in 13.67 (-0.3 wind) against a 13.85 from Donald Pollitt of Syracuse, a 13.92 by Virginia Tech’s Jeff Artis-Gray and a 13.99 from Keith Hayes of Kentucky. Trey Holloway of Hampton had a false start, but the delay didn’t bother Davis.
“I felt really sloppy going into the race, and I felt like I could have done better,” Davis said. “But it was way better than what I ran last year (13.71 for fourth place), so it’s definitely a win. I didn’t feel like my usual strength coming out of the blocks. I'm coming off an injury, so I'm just trying to get things back together. Compared to where I was last year, I'm already ahead of myself. So I'm happy about that.”
The last set of Aggie individual wins came in the 100 meters. Ekponé had a good start and continued to build a lead against the field the rest of the way, setting a career-best of 11.37 (0.6 wind) for the win, which places her No. 9 on the Aggies' all-time list.
Elaine Thompson of UTech finished second in 11.54 with Indiana Tech’s Adella King third in 11.55. Then three sprinters each clocked 11.70 with Houston’s Kiersten Brewer, Kentucky’s Tamyah Pipkin and Western Carolina’s Tayla Carter placing fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
“It’s amazing, I didn’t think I was actually going to run that fast [Saturday],” Ekponé said. “To be here at the Penn Relays and to run a career-best in the 100 feels extraordinary. This is my first time to run an individual race at Penn.”
Webb needed a strong finish to capture the victory in the men’s 100 as his 10.24 (-0.4) held off the 10.28 from UTech’s Andrew Fisher. Then a set of 10.53s battled for third between St. Augustine’s Taffawee Johnson and Monroe’s Suwaibou Sanneh while Auburn’s Jeremy Hardy placed fifth in 10.55.
In the final event of the meet Webb aided the Aggies' winning effort of 3:02.52 by running the leadoff leg, splitting 46.0 to put the squad in contention. Baily followed with another 46.0 as A&M began to pull away from the field.
Then a 45.4 carry from Carlyle Roudette gave anchor Deon Lendore a very healthy lead. Lendore, who split 44.3 in the prelims, finished off the victory with a 45.1 split as the Aggies won with a solid cushion over the 3:03.96 from St. Augustine’s for second place.
The rest of the field included Pittsburgh (3:04.16), Oregon (3:06.24), Princeton (3:06.26) and Middle Tennessee (3:07.60) while Mississippi State did not finish. The 3:02.52 by the Aggies is the 11th-fastest time at Penn as well as the A&M all-time list.
"It was all about bringing home the gold for the team,” Lendore said. “My teammates went through a lot. We had a hard day of competition with a lot of races. I just wanted to end the day with a bang and that is what we came out to do.
“Last year, I anchored and we lost, so to me this was revenge to show what we really can do. I didn’t want to make the same mistake as last year. When I got the baton, I was delighted that we had the lead. I went out there real comfortably to control the race the best I could.”
The morning started with a victory for Dave Brown in the men’s college division triple jump. A sixth-round mark of 50-0.5 (15.25) claimed the win against a pair of jumpers from East Carolina -- Allen Bordley and Miles Coates -- who each produced a mark of 49-8.5 (15.15) in the sixth round, as well.
Brown’s best going into the final round was 48-11 (14.91) from the third round. Indiana’s Richard Rouse, who led the competition from a first-round 49-5.5 (15.07), ended up in fourth place.
As the defending champions of the 4x400, the Aggie women were in contention of winning a fourth Championship of America title this weekend at the Penn Relays. A very game effort had A&M posting a time of 3:27.89, the third-fastest in school history, which placed them third in a very competitive race.
Oregon won the race with a Penn Relays and Franklin Field record of 3:26.73 while UTech finished second in 3:27.85. The Ducks broke the meet record of 3:27.64 set by Texas in 2003 while UTech equaled the second-fastest time at Penn.
The Aggies' mark is now fifth on the all-time Penn Relays list. The A&M crew consisted of Ekponé (53.4), Ibukun Mayungbe (51.6), LaKeidra Stewart (52.7) and Kamaria Brown (50.2).
Finishing behind the Aggies were Penn State (3:33.47), St. Augustine’s (3:33.63), George Mason (3:33.72), Hampton (3:35.17) and LSU (3:36.00).