Solid closing day lifts Texas A&M to fourth team title in past five years
EUGENE, Ore. -- Texas A&M captured its eighth national championship during the past six years when the Aggie women won their fourth NCAA outdoor track and field team title since 2009 at historic Hayward Field on Saturday.
Two victories, a runner-up effort and third place finish on the final day, in front of a crowd that numbered 11,344, earned A&M 34 points on the day. After winning the 4x100 relay in a collegiate-leading 42.80 seconds, and have a 1-3 finish in the 200 meters that was won by Kamaria Brown, the Aggies locked up the championship prior to running the 4x400.
Texas A&M totaled 75 points for the team championship with Texas runner-up at 66 points. The rest of the top 10 included Oregon (59), Florida (55), Georgia (35), LSU (34), Kentucky (26), Boise State (23), Arkansas (21.5) and Akron (20).
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Brown said. “I’ve been through so much this season and I’m thankful my hard work paid off. Coach Henry and coach Vince Anderson kept encouraging me to trust in my training.
“I’m so happy we won the sprint relay, broke the school record in the 4x400 and won a national title.”
The Aggies set a school record in the 4x400 to close out the meet as runner-up in 3 minutes, 25.63 seconds behind a meet record of 3:24.21 set by Texas for the win. It’s the second consecutive year for A&M to place second in the 4x400 and the third time since 2010.
A foursome of Shamier Little (52.0), Kamaria Brown (50.9), Janeil Bellille (51.69) and Olivia Ekpone (50.78) bettered the Aggie school record of 3:26.31 set in 2011 when A&M won the NCAA title. Finishing behind the Aggies were Oregon (3:29.03), Florida (3:30.13), Penn State (3:31.17), Arkansas (3:31.94), USC (3:32.35) and Kansas State (3:34.76).
The combination of Little and Brown had A&M (1:43.17) with a slight lead after the first two laps against Texas (1:43.27). Bellille maintained that advantage through most of her carry as Longhorn Morolake Akinosun, who split 51.37, pulled even at the final exchange.
In the first race of the final day of action, the Aggies motored to a collegiate-leading 42.80 for a sixth victory in the 4x100 relay at the NCAA championships. Texas A&M has won the event in 2007, '08, '09, '10, '13 and '14. The Aggies are the only school to run sub 43 seconds in the past six seasons.
The A&M foursome included Jennifer Madu, Ashton Purvis, Brown and Ekpone. Finishing second in the race was USC in 43.00 followed by Texas (43.19), Florida (43.43), Ohio State (44.08), Alabama (44.19) and Florida State (44.82). LSU did not finish.
When Ekpone received the baton from Brown the Aggies were trailing Southern California, but Ekpone charged to the finish line, passing the Trojan anchor Tynia Gaither and establishing a lead by a couple of strides.
Brown and Ekpone returned to place first and third a very close 200m final. Brown, the NCAA runner-up a year ago, claimed the victory in a wind-aided 22.63 (22.623) against Oregon’s Jenna Prandini, who also clocked 22.63 (22.630). Ekpone’s 22.64 (2.2 wind) earned third ahead of Penn State’s Mahagony Jones (22.68) and Morolake Akinosun of Texas (22.89).
The 16-point production for the Aggies, the second event this weekend A&M scored that many points, increased its lead toward the team title. Brown's title is the fourth in the NCAA outdoor 200, joining Simone Facey (2008) and Porscha Lucas (2009, 2010). Ekpone, eighth a year ago, is the second A&M sprinter to place third after Dominique Duncan (2012).