DES MOINES, Iowa – Blazing around Drake Stadium’s famed blue track on a perfect Friday evening in a school record of 42.59 seconds, the Texas A&M women’s 4 x 100 relay squad defended its NCAA title with a determined effort.
On a night involving five finals for the Aggies, the result was one gold and two silver medals in front of a crowd that numbered 11,288.
Following the win by the A&M women, the men sported a runner-up effort in the 4 x 100 while Simone Facey raced to second place in the 100 meters.
More qualifying events on the third day of the NCAA Championships had Jessica Beard advancing in the 400 while Ashika Charan and Yasmine Regis moved on in the triple jump.
In equaling the collegiate-leading time of the season the Aggie foursome of Elizabeth Adeoti, Porscha Lucas, Simone Facey and Allison George lowered the A&M school record from its previous best of 42.69 set this season.
“It was a good race and we executed really well,” Facey said. “We are the defending champions, so we just went out there and executed our race. We were focused on our lane and what we needed to do.”
The Aggie 4 x 100 has set a new stadium record at this venue in each of the four races they have run in the past two seasons. “It’s not about the track, it’s the athletes that make a track fast,” Facey noted.
LSU challenged, but couldn’t overcome the speed the Aggies had on display with the middle two legs of Lucas and Facey. The Tigers were runner-up in 42.85 with the foursome of Keyanna Wilson, Samantha Henry, Brooklyn Morris and Kelly-Ann Baptiste.
At a full second back of the Aggies were Baylor (43.602) and Florida (43.603), who both clocked 43.61 and were separated by only 0.001 of a second to determine third place. The rest of the field included Tennessee (43.83), UTEP (43.95), South Carolina (44.04) and California (44.32).
“We are trying to win a team title and we have to take each event a step at a time,” Facey said. “That’s what we did today with the 4 x 1.
“It’s always important when we line up with LSU. They’re always trying to beat us and they were able to twice this season. We had a goal of breaking the NCAA record, but we are very happy with a 42.59 since it’s a new school record for us.”
The Aggies winning mark is also equal to the third fastest performance ever in collegiate history, trailing only a 42.50 collegiate record set at altitude by LSU in 1989 at Provo, Utah, as well as a 42.55 also set by LSU in 2003. This year’s Tiger crew ran 42.59 in winning the Penn Relays.
Texas A&M and LSU went 2-2 versus one another this season. The Aggies enjoyed a victory at the Texas Relays (42.97 to 43.10) while the Tigers won at a home meet (42.84 to 43.38) and at the Penn Relays (42.59 to 42.69) back in April.
“It took a lot of hard work to get where we are right now and I’m happy that worked paid off,” Lucas stated. “I felt like I really couldn’t control my legs while I was running, but at the same time I was making sure I was doing everything right. Simone and I had a good handoff and everything worked out well.”
Adeoti, A&M’s first leg, added: “Today I was just watching the rest of the relay until they got to Allison, then I just started screaming like crazy. Winning this meet again means a lot to us.
“As the first leg I know I have to get out of the blocks, keep pushing until I get to Porscha and get through the zone. LSU changed their relay order for this meet, but we trusted each other and got the stick around the track as fast as we could.”
While its the second consecutive NCAA relay victory for Texas A&M, it’s only the sixth national championship claimed by the women in the history of the program. The other four titles were individual wins.
Following the performance of the A&M women, the Aggie men put on quite a display of sprint speed as well.
Charging through each exchange had Texas A&M in contention for its first 4 x 100 relay title in nine years. A season best time of 38.58 left the Aggies trailing only a 38.42 run by LSU.
The silver medal performance by the Aggie foursome of Richard Adu-Bobie, Justin Oliver, Dominique Stafford and Chris Dykes set the second fastest time in school history.
The school record of 38.53 was established at altitude during the 1989 NCAA meet in Provo, Utah. In comparison to previous NCAA titles won by the Aggies, the 1997 squad claimed its title with a 38.80 while the 1988 crew won with a 38.84.
LSU ran with a crew of Armanti Hayes, Richard Thompson, Gabriel Mvumuvre and Trindon Holliday. Following A&M in the final were Florida (38.84), Florida State (39.11), Tennessee (39.19), Baylor (39.47) and TCU (39.60). USC did not finish.
Facey returned to the track for the final of the 100 meters and finished second with a time of 11.27. Baptiste of LSU was the winner in 11.20. From the start of the race those two were ahead of the field, running in lane 4 (Baptiste) and 5 (Facey).
Lakecia Ealey of Florida placed third with an 11.35 while Nickesha Anderson of Kansas took fourth in 11.37. LSU picked up three more points in addition to the 10 claimed by Baptiste with Henry (11.63) and Broaddus (12.44) placing seventh and eighth.
The two other finals on the night involving Texas A&M had Nick Anderson placing fifth in the 400 hurdles with a time of 49.92 while Christina Munoz the 5,000 meters in 16:27.45 to finish 10th.
Munoz recorded a personal best, bettering her previous mark by nearly six seconds. She is the No. 2 performer on the A&M all-time list behind Melissa Gulli with the 10th best performance.
Other races on the day involved semifinals in the 400 meters and 100 hurdles. Jessica Beard advanced to the finals of the 400 by placing second in her heat with a time of 52.30, the fourth fastest qualifying time. Jennifer Williams ran 13.51 in the 100 hurdles to place fifth in her heat and 10th overall.
Qualifying in the triple jump was a mixed bag of tricks for the Aggies on Friday the 13th. In the women’s event both Ashika Charan and Yasmine Regis advanced to the final. But in the men’s field none of the four Aggies entered were able to qualify for the final.
Charan produced her best mark ever with a wind-aided jump of 44-1.5 (13.45) as the seventh best qualifier. Regis had a mark of 42-11 (13.08) that qualified as the 12th and last entry into Saturday’s final.
Tyron Stewart was on the cusp of making the men’s final field when he placed 13th with a 51-7.75 (15.74) leap. Julian Reid, who placed third in the long jump the previous night, finished 17th at 50-11 (15.52). Melvin Echard placed 20th while Zuheir Sharif was 22nd.