A&M Showdown may determine bragging rights between Big 12, SEC

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COLLEGE STATION – Conference pride and bragging rights will be on the line as the Texas A&M Showdown features a intriguing match-up between the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference this weekend at the Gilliam Indoor Track and Field Stadium.

The Big 12 and SEC have seen numerous comparisons between the two leagues in various sports often with no clear-cut answer. As a result, there are continuous debates over which conference is stronger in particular sports.

Debate turns into practical experience Saturday as three track and field programs from each conference meet in the Aggies’ brand new facility to see who can lay claim to the title of the better league, at least for the 2009 indoor season.

Representing the Big 12 are host Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri. The SEC counters with Florida, LSU and Mississippi. The format and the teams involved create some interesting battles in various events.

The Aggie women enter the meet ranked No. 1in the nation while the A&M men are No. 5. Ranked teams competing on the women’s side are No. 4 LSU, No. 6 Texas, and No. 15 Florida. The men feature No. 3 Florida, No. 9 Texas, No. 10 LSU and No. 23 Missouri.

Even with a combination of three teams contributing to produce a conference score, each program will have individual strengths that will likely stand out prominently through the course of the meet.

Finals will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday and the meet will conclude with the 4 x 400 relays around 7:30 p.m.

For the Big 12 women the Aggies will feature the sprinting prowess of Porscha Lucas, Jessica Beard Allison George and Gabby Mayo, along with the A&M hurdle debut for Vashti Thomas as well as sterling jumping efforts from the tandem of Ashika Charan and Yasmine Regis.

Lucas, the current Big 12 leader in the 60 (7.30) and 200 (23.39), shares the top spot on the 2009 world list with a 23.39 also recorded by Russia’s Anna Geflikh. Beard leads the collegiate ranks in the 400 (52.86) and anchored A&M’s 4 x 400 relay to the top NCAA time (3:37.91) so far in 2009.

Other Big 12 leaders include Mayo in the 60 hurdles (8.27) with Charan (43-0 ¼) and Regis (42-9 ¾) currently 1-2 in the triple jump while teammate Angela Thomas (40-9 ½) is in the third spot.

The Aggie men will feature a sprinting trio of Gerald Phiri (6.65), Chris Dykes (21.17) and Justin Oliver (47.15) in the 60, 200 and 400. Phiri and Dykes lead the Big 12 in the 60 and 200 while Oliver is currently second in the 400.

Zuheir Sharif (53-3) and Julian Reid (52-7 ½) are 1-2 in the Big 12 triple jump. Sharif also tops the collegiate list after equaling the Texas A&M indoor school record with a win in the UT Dual last weekend. Reid (25-4 ¾) continues to lead the conference long jump as well with a mark from early December.

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