AUSTIN -- The 81st edition of the Texas Relays, held at Mike A. Myers Stadium, features a strong Texas A&M squad that has enjoyed a sizzling start to the outdoor season the past two weekends.
First day action on Wednesday had an Aggie competing in the decathlon and heptathlon. Thursday will have the conclusion of the multi-events along with the hammer, 4 x 800 and qualifying in the 400 hurdles. A full schedule of events will start at 9:30 a.m. on Friday with the prelims of the 4 x 100 and Saturday’s action begins at 9 a.m. with field events and 12:15 p.m. with track events.
Trinity Otto is currently 10th in a field of 19 athletes with 3,785 points after the first day of the decathlon. Sarah Pierson completed the first four events of the heptathlon with 2,983 points and is currently in 13th place amid a field of 19.
Heading into the first weekend of April the Aggies are world leaders in three events and collegiate leaders in eight events. Among Big 12 schools A&M sports the leading mark in 13 total events, six on the women’s side and seven on the men’s.
Porscha Lucas tops the world 100-meter list with an 11.20 that claimed first place at the Florida State Relays and eclipsed a 24-year-old facility record of 11.27 held by FSU legend Randy Givens.
Currently on the world list Lucas’ 11.20 is followed by an 11.27 from Jamaica’s Schillonie Calvert and an 11.28 from former Longhorn Sanya Richards. Lucas time qualifies under the ‘A’ standard for the Olympic Games and is a ‘B’ qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer.
In the 4 x 100 relays the Aggie men and women also hold world-leading positions.
On the men’s list Texas A&M posted a 39.17 to defeat defending NCAA Champion Florida State in Tallahassee last weekend during the FSU Relays. The women lowered their global best of 43.40, set in Austin two weekends ago during the Texas Invitational, to a 43.18 at the FSU Relays. In the process they shattered a 24-year-old facility record set in 1984 by Florida State.
Among NCAA leaders the Aggies are represented by Gerald Phiri (10.25) in the 100, Nick Robinson (50.58) in the 400 hurdles, Tyron Stewart (52-9 ½ / 16.09) in the men’s triple jump, Ashika Charan (42-6 ¼ / 12.96) in the women’s triple jump as well as the men’s 4 x 400 (3:04.09).
Phiri, a Zambian-born British sprinter, has the top collegiate time for a wind-legal sprint. His 10.25 currently ranks equal to the seventh fastest time on the 2008 world list. Clemson’s Travis Padgett ran a wind-aided 10.11 two weekends ago.
In a meet that has long showcased the sprints and relays, the Aggies should be in line for a successful weekend. Even with stern competition from the likes of host Texas, LSU, Florida State, USC and others, Texas A&M has already shown this season they don’t shy away from head-to-head showdowns.
With the potential the A&M women have displayed with times of 43.18 in the 4 x 100, 1:32.40 in the 4 x 200 and a 3:35.32 for the 4 x 400, its very likely they could claim a first-ever relay title at the Texas Relays.
In the history of the Texas Relays, the Aggie women have won four ‘A’ division event titles, twice in the 1980’s (1,500 – 1983 – Suzanne Sheffield, high jump – 1989 – Melinda Clark) and twice in the 1990’s (100 hurdles – 1995 – Anjanette Kirkland, javelin – 1998 – Esther Eisenlauer).
Last season Angela Thomas won a ‘B’ division title in the triple jump and her distance of 42-2 ¼ (12.86) topped the ‘A’ division winner.
While the men have a long and storied history of winning events in Austin, it has been a while since they won a relay race during the Texas Relays. A 4 x 100 victory in 1997, with a time of 39.04, was the most recent for Texas A&M.
The Aggies enter the 2008 version of the Texas Relays with marks of 38.17 in the 4 x 100, 1:23.48 in the 4 x 200 and a 3:04.09 for the 4 x 400.
Recent victories by Texas A&M at the Texas Relays have included Fabrice Lapierre (2006) in the long jump, Ronny Jimenez (2004) in the shot put and Jarrad Matthews (2004) in the javelin. David Hebert was a winner in the ‘B’ division of the steeplechase last year.
Compiling numerous top finishes at recent meets has been the norm for the Aggies. During the Texas Invitational two weeks ago A&M claimed 12 wins. Then at the FSU Relays this past weekend the Aggies doubled their tally with 24 victories.