• The 2007 version of the Big 12 meet will feature a total of 20 NCAA Champions who have earned 23 titles among the schools competing. Among that group are 94 All-America athletes who have accumulated 192 career honors. In addition there will be 26 reigning Big 12 outdoor champions in 23 of the 42 events held.
• Coverage of the meet will air on various Fox Sports Net stations on a delayed basis. Fox Southwest will televise the meet twice, on Friday, May 18, at 11:30 a.m. and again on Saturday, May 19, at 1 p.m.
Lincoln, Neb. – A dozen medalist return for Texas A&M as the Aggies contest the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships this weekend at Ed Weir Stadium on the University of Nebraska campus. Action begins Friday and runs through Sunday.
Following an improvement to the runner-up position in 2006 from a 10th-place finish in 2005, the Texas A&M women will contend for their first-ever outdoor conference title this weekend. Texas has claimed six of the 10 Big 12 outdoor championships, including last year’s title by 19.5 points over the Aggies (131-111.5).
During the Big 12 Indoor Championships in February, the A&M women bettered defending champion Texas by 37 points (141-104) as the Aggies captured their initial conference title in track and field.
“If we do the things we’ve done to this point I think we have an opportunity to be very successful,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “We have a little more understanding of what this competition is like, knowing it’s a bit different than a regular season meet.
“This is the Big 12 Championship, so there is an added excitement and adrenaline. So, handling that and getting through three days of the track meet is the challenge.”
The A&M men will shoot for a top five finish after placing sixth the past two years. Among the 10 outdoor conference meets held since the formation of the Big 12, the Aggie men have won one championship, in 2001 when A&M hosted the meet. In addition the Aggies were runner-up in 2003 and have placed third three times (1999, 2000, 2004).
“While we bring a lot of young people in the men’s group I think we are a bit more mature than we were at this time last year,” noted Henry. “The team that wins on the men’s side is going to have to have an good performance across the board out of all of their people.
“There is no dominant team that I see on the men’s side. If we do everything we are capable of doing then I feel like we can be a team that can go in there and contend.”
Leading the A&M crew on the women’s side is defending NCAA 400 champion Clora Williams, who has won all three conference titles in the 400 she has contested since joining the Aggies after a successful two-year stint at Essex County JC.
Williams, who has earned five All-America honors while at Texas A&M, currently leads the conference 400 list with a season best of 52.67. She set that mark in winning against a field of professional athletes at the Miami Elite Invitational on April 14. Last year Williams finished the collegiate season with a NCAA title in Sacramento and a school record of 51.06, the fastest time run by a collegian in 2006.
Joining Williams in Lincoln are three silver medalists and three bronze medalists from last year’s conference meet as well as the 4 x 400 relay, which was runner-up.
Silver medalist from 2006 include Jennifer Williams (400 hurdles), Caroline Wolf (high jump) and Yasmine Regis (triple jump). Earning bronze medals a year ago were Katie Baker (400), Kasey Onwuchekwa (shot put) and Michelle Inocencio (javelin). Members of the 4 x 400 relay last season were Tresha Henry, J. Williams, Baker and C. Williams.
Heading into the 2007 version of the conference meet Jennifer Williams leads the 100 hurdles with her career best mark of 13.24 while Michelle Inocencio tops the javelin field with a personal best of 171-8.
In relays the Aggie women currently lead the conference with times of 43.80 and 3:32.08. Texas trails A&M in both events with 43.94 and 3:33.33 marks.
Wolf and Onwuchekwa head into the conference meet ranked third in their respective events while Regis and Baker are currently fifth. In addition to leading the 100 hurdle list, J. Williams is ranked sixth in the 400 hurdles.
Depth continues to be plus for the Aggie women in the hurdles, triple jump and javelin. A&M has added the 100 and 200 meters as another area where they feature the potential for multiple scorers.
Newcomers to the Aggie program, who made an impact indoors, should contend for medals during the outdoor conference meet. The group includes junior Simone Facey along with freshmen Porscha Lucas and Ashika Charan.
Facey, who won the 200 title at the Big 12 indoor meet and was runner-up in the 60, has been part of seven school records in her first season with Texas A&M. She currently holds the Aggie school record in the 60, 100 and 200 (indoors and outdoor) while being part of record setting relays in the 4 x 100, 4 x 200 and indoor 4 x 400. Facey heads into the Big 12 meet as the conference leader in the 200 and ranks second in the 100.
Charan moved to fourth on the conference list in the long jump with an outdoor personal best of 20-5.25, which she achieved in winning the Penn Relays. Charan became the first Aggie female to win a field event at the prestigious meet. During the indoor conference meet Charan was runner-up in the long jump after a final round jump by Oklahoma’s Portia Nash knocked her out of first place.
Lucas has established freshman records on the A&M squad in four individual events and was part of an all-frosh 4 x 200 relay that broke a 17-year-old school record. Currently ranked fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200 on the conference level, Lucas has established Aggie freshman records in the 60 (7.35), 100 (11.42), and 200 (23.55 indoors, 23.43 outdoors).
Three individual silver medalists from the 2006 Big 12 Championships return for the Texas A&M men along with the 1,600-meter relay, which finished second a year ago. Plus the Aggies will feature a 2007 Big 12 Indoor champion in freshman triple jumper Zuheir Sharif.
During the Big 12 Indoor meet Sharif hit a career best mark of 52-1.5 (15.88) in the second round of competition. It remained the leading mark through the next four rounds and Sharif won the event with a cushion of six inches.
Chris Dykes (200), Justin Oliver (400) and Nick Robinson (400 hurdles) were each a runner-up in Waco last season and will be in contention for medals again this weekend.
After finishing third in the 200 at the Big 12 Indoor meet, Dykes also claimed third at the NCAA Indoor Championships. His time of 20.67 in the NCAA final was a career best. Dykes raced once over 200 meters outdoors, clocking a 20.91 that ranks No. 6 in the Big 12. He has also been a key on the Aggie 4 x 100, running the curve on the third leg. A&M leads the conference list with a time of 39.49 in the sprint relay.
Oliver enters the Big 12 meet ranked third in the 400 with his season best mark of 46.09. As anchor of the A&M 4 x 400 relay, Oliver has assisted the Aggies in posting times of 3:05.62 against LSU and 3:05.98 versus USC on the opponents home track this season.
Robinson, who also has a contributed to the 4 x 4, will seek his first sub-51 second clocking of the season this weekend in the 400 hurdles. A 50.96 earned him a silver medal at the 2006 Big 12 meet. Robinson enters the meet ranked fourth with a season best of 51.14.
Aiming to improve on their top 8 finish from a year ago and move into medal contention this year are three Aggie throwers – Chad Brown (javelin), Javier Olivas (shot put/discus) and Dylan Conway (discus).
Brown, who placed sixth in 2006, has led the conference in the javelin for the entire season with a mark of 221-9 (67.59) he set in winning the USC Trojan Invitational in March. Brown tops the Big 12 list by nearly six feet.
Olivas placed seventh in the shot and 15th in the discus a year ago and heads into the conference meet ranked third in the shot put with a 57-10.25 (17.63) and fifth in the discus at 173-1 (52.75).
Conway is currently ranked ninth in the discus with his 166-11 (50.87). He placed eighth last season. Leading the Aggie discus crew this year has been Josh Tiemann, who was 13th at the 2006 Big 12 meet. Tiemann’s career-best toss of 178-6 (54.41) ranks fourth in the conference.
Newcomers expected to have an impact for Texas A&M include Richard Adu-Bobie, A.C. Robinson and Nick Toohey.
Adu-Bobie has anchored the Aggie sprint relay to three sub-40 second times and currently sits third in the 100-meter list with a season best of 10.33. A career best of 20.95 ranks Adu-Bobie 10th in the 200.
Sporting a season best of 46.36 A. Robinson, a NJCAA Indoor champion, is ranked just behind Oliver in fourth among the conference 400 list. He has also been a key asset on the A&M 4 x 400, running either the first or second leg.
Toohey ranks 11th in the 800 list with a mark of 1:51.06, but should contend for vital points if he manages to post a time near or better than his personal best of 1:48.