NEW YORK CITY -- Stationed in lane eight of a super-charge 60-meter final, Texas A&M freshman Gerald Phiri blistered a time of 6.67 seconds to place fourth and equal the Aggie school record during first-day action at the eighth annual New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
“This race didn’t feel as fast as the other one’s I’ve run this season,” said Phiri, a Zambian-born British sprinter who had a previous career best of 6.70 and had run 6.71 twice this season. “When I crossed the line everyone thought I was disappointed, since I was thinking I had run 6.7 again.
“But when I saw the time I was so excited. Walking back down the track I was almost crying. I’ve waited so long to run 6.6-something. I had run loads of 6.7s since I was 16 years old. To finally break that barrier, it become a psychological advantage for me.”
Tyrone Edgar recorded the school record time back in 2006 during the Big 12 Championships. Last week A&M senior Richard Adu-Bobie threatened the record with a 6.69 clocking in Kentucky.
This weekend it was Phiri’s turn to chase the record and he matched it with his fourth-place effort. LSU’s tandem of Richard Thompson and Trindon Holliday went 1-2 with marks of 6.57 and 6.61. Oklahoma’s Marcus Pugh finished third in 6.64. Finishing behind Phiri’s 6.67 was Tennessee’s Rubin Williams, in 6.69.
“He’s a young guy who looked really good in the final,” noted Aggie head coach Pat Henry. “He’s excited about running. The field doesn’t get much better than that one.
“Once you get caught up in that type of competition, if you have things going right between your ears you can run fast.”
A full slate of activity during the first day of the Collegiate Invitational, held in the Armory, presented plenty of highlights for the Texas A&M track and field team.
Ashika Charan repeated her runner-up performance from a year ago and matched the indoor personal best she established last year at this meet with a leap of 20-6 ¼ (6.25).
Julian Reid improved his indoor long jump mark to 25-4 (7.72) in placing third. Reid now shares the Big 12 lead with OU’s Anthony Flemons and is the No. 4 performer on the A&M indoor all-time list with the No. 11 performance.
Kevin Ondrasek moved to the No. 2 position on the current Big 12 list when he won his section of the 1000 meters in 2:26.14, placing fourth overall in the event. Ondrasek set a personal best in the 800 last weekend and added another career mark in the 1000. He is now the No. 5 performer on the Aggie all-time list with the No. 11 performance.
In the women’s 60 meters and 60 hurdle finals, the Aggie women had two athletes in each race.
Simone Facey placed fifth in the 60 meters with a 7.29 while Gabby Mayo ran 7.58 for eighth place. LSU’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste set a meet record with a 7.17 winning time, just ahead of teammate Samantha Henry’s 7.18.
For the 60 hurdles Jennifer Williams finished fifth in 8.45 as Lindsey Adams clocked 8.51 to place eighth. In the prelims Adams set a career best in posting the third-fastest qualifying time. Her 8.35 clocking moved her to No. 5 performer.