BOULDER, CO -- The Big 12 Outdoor Championships make their first appearance in Boulder, Colorado, this weekend as the Texas A&M women seek to defend their team title and claim a fourth consecutive conference crown (2007 Indoor, 2007 Outdoor, 2008 Indoor).
Meanwhile, the Aggie men, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, aim to improve upon last year’s ninth-place team finish and contend for their first Big 12 title since 2001.
The University of Colorado will play host to the conference meet at Potts Field. Action begins Friday and continues through Sunday.
Fox Sports Net will televise the Big 12 Championships later next week. The airing on Fox Sports Southwest will be at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, May 23 and will be repeated at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 24.
“This starts the time of the year when it is a team function,” noted A&M head coach Pat Henry. “This is what the team is all about. We’ve had lots of opportunity for some great individual efforts all season long. Now we’re going to try to have everybody have a great day on the same day. If we can do that, then we have the potential to be very successful on both sides.”
Simone Facey, a triple sprint winner at the Big 12 meet a year ago, leads the Texas A&M women, currently ranked No. 3 in the nation. Facey won the 100 and 200 titles in Lincoln, Nebraska, last season and ran on the 4 x 100 relay squad that ended a 10-year conference winning streak by Texas in the sprint relay.
Joining Facey on the women’s side are current Big 12 event leaders Porscha Lucas (22.69, 200) and Jessica Beard (52.04, 400). The Aggies also lead the conference with times of 42.69 in the 4 x 100 and 3:32.21 in the 4 x 400.
The Texas A&M men will feature experience with plenty of youth in their bid to contend for the Big 12 title. The influx of new talent has come in the form of freshman sprinter Gerald Phiri (100, 200), freshman jumper Julian Reid (long jump, triple jump) and junior distance runner Kevin McNab (steeplechase).
Each are among the top three in their respective events on the conference level with Phiri (10.20) topping the 100 list and Reid leading the Big 12 in both the long jump (25-3 ¼) and triple jump (54-3 ¾). McNab posted a time of 8:49.76, which ranks third on the conference list. The Aggies also lead the 4 x 100 with a 38.83 clocking.
“We’ve added some depth to our team on both sides,” Henry said. “Plus we have some people who were with us last year that now have another season of experience under their belt and have continued to improve. We go into this meet a better team with seasoned athletes.
“This kind of meet doesn’t always come down to the great individuals and their winning performances. Those fourth, fifth or seventh place points add up as well. If we have some people doing their best and placing seventh, then that’s tremendous. Efforts like that lead to a team doing well, everybody has to contribute. That is our goal for the next two meets, exactly.”
The 12th version of the Big 12 Championships could have its sixth pair of team champions from the same school. Texas has achieved the feat four times (1997, 1999, 2003, 2006) while Nebraska (2000) has claimed the honor once. The Aggies should be in contention to pull off the double win this weekend.
In the history of the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, the best combined conference finish for the Aggies came in 2001 when the A&M men won the team title while the Aggie women placed fourth. Prior to the Big 12, the best outdoor combined finish for Texas A&M in the Southwest Conference was in 1996 and 1992 when both squads were runner-up each year.
During the Big 12 Indoor Championships in February, the Aggies women won the team title while the A&M men were fourth. Combined, the Aggies compiled 10 individual medalists in addition to a pair of 4 x 400 relays.
Indoor gold medalists included Porscha Lucas (200), Jessica Beard (400) and Julian Reid (Long Jump) along with the women’s 4 x 400. Reid and Beard each earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors.
Big 12 Academic Honors for 10 Aggies
The Big 12 Conference released its 2008 Academic All-Big 12 Track and Field Team this week and it includes 10 Aggies, nine on the first team and one on the second team.
Named to the first team were Lindsey Adams (Lufkin), agriculture leadership and development; Elizabeth Adeoti (Houston), biomedical science; Terry Dike (Houston), mechanical engineering; James Jerry (Dripping Springs), agriculture development; Jacob Rodriguez, (Sugar Land), environmental design; Joseph Sauvageau (Katy), petroleum engineering; Elizabeth Slaughter (Willis), health education; Jessica Wingfield (Richardson), political science; and Sandy Wooten (Mineral Wells), sport management. Angela Thomas (Waco), kinesiology, was a second team member.
To qualify for the Academic All-Big 12 team student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 60 percent of his/her team’s scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. First team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA, and the second team members are those who have a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.