PHILADELPHIA – Texas A&M closed out the Penn Relay Carnival with its first victory in the Championship of America 4×400 relay, running 3:33.52 on a chilly day that still had 49,810 fans in attendance at Franklin Field.
With the Aggies involved in seven Championship of America relays on Saturday, A&M finished second in both 4 x 200 relays.
“To win the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400, both of which are NCAA events, the ladies did a great job,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “They managed to run a season best of 3:33 even on a day where it’s 50 degrees. That doesn’t happen on a day like today very often. I think they are ready to run even a little faster and this kind of proves it.”
Aggie frosh Olivia Ekponé anchored the 4 x 400 to the historic win with a split of 51.9 seconds as she held off the charge of Oregon anchor Phyllis Francis (52.2) as the Ducks were runner-up in 3:34.08. Texas Tech placed third in 3:35.37.
“I’ve been running here since my sophomore year of high school, so I’m used to the environment,” said Ekponé, who also ran on the A&M winning 4 x 100 on Friday. “It’s absolutely wonderful to be here in maroon and white this time. I love the crowd and the energy is amazing.
“I haven’t won a Championship of America before, so to be a freshman at Texas A&M and win two in one weekend is absolutely amazing. I have no words to describe how excited I am.”
Kanika Beckles led off for A&M with a 54.6 as Ibukun Mayungbe followed with a 53.7 split.
“I was pretty confident we could do well and I just wanted to do my best on the first leg,” Beckles said. “I could feel the energy from the crowd. I had no doubts we could do well if we worked together.”
Mayungbe added: “I’m really happy with what we accomplished today. My teammates did so well and I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
While Texas Tech held a slight lead off the first exchange, Mayungbe had the Aggies even at the next exchange of the baton. Donique’ Flemings then supplied a 53.3 that kept A&M in front.
“We went into it knowing we just had to run our race,” said Flemings. “Each one of us had to run our leg. Last year a dropped baton kept us from winning it, so that just made us work harder this time.”