SACRAMENTO, CA -- Texas A&M’s track and field program is on the verge of setting another milestone in a season which has already included many first-ever achievements as they start competition in the NCAA Championships, which runs Wednesday through Saturday.
The four-day national meet, held at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus, will conclude the collegiate season this weekend. Live telecasts of the meet will be shown Friday on CSTV (7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. CDT) as well as Saturday on CBS (noon to 2 p.m.).
The Aggie women seek a top 10 finish at the NCAA Championships to improve upon the 10th-place accomplishment they attained last year. Momentum from winning first-ever conference championships as well as the Midwest Region title this season have A&M favored to finish among the top three by various publications that predict the team finish with pre-meet form charts.
Track & Field News, which had the Aggie women ranked No. 1 last December, currently has A&M claiming third place with 40 points. The magazine favors indoor champion Arizona State over LSU by a 48-45 margin for the women’s championship.
The rest of the top 10, as predicted by T&FN, has Michigan and USC tied for fourth with 31 points. They are followed by South Carolina (27), Stanford (26), Texas (25), UCLA (22) along with a three-way tie for 10th as Auburn, Nebraska and Texas Tech are each slated for 20 points.
On the men’s side Florida State is tabbed to repeat as national champions with a 62-39 cushion over Auburn. Texas A&M men, who tied for 20th last year, enter the meet with four individual qualifiers along with a 4 x 400 relay. The relay (fifth) and Zuheir Sharif (seventh) in the triple jump are the two events A&M is predicted to score points in by Track & Field News.
“We try to keep our expectations to our performance levels,” Aggie head coach Pat Henry said. “I think it’s important to understand that you come to this competition to do what you’ve done to get here. As a team we feel that if we do these type of things then we’ve accomplished what we can accomplish here.
“Team-wise it’s a little bit difficult to gauge on the national level. On the women’s side, though, we have the opportunity to be among the top group of teams. For the men we may be short a couple of people, but it’s still about lining up, competing and getting it done once you’re here.”
Sprint events and the relays will be prime scoring opportunities for Texas A&M women. Headlining the Aggie effort will be double-sprint threat Simone Facey, who is among the nation’s leaders in the 100 (11.19) and 200 (22.49). She is predicted to place second in the 100 and third in the 200.
Facey also supplies A&M with a key leg on the 4 x 100 relay, which heads into the meet with the second fastest time among college teams with a school record 43.29. Track & Field News predicts a victory for the Aggies in the sprint relay over LSU and USC.
Clora Williams is the defending champion in the 400 and will be joined in the event by Katie Baker. Both will also have major roles on the Aggie 4 x 400, which enters the meet with the third-fastest time of the season at 3:30.04. A&M is tabbed for second place behind South Carolina while Williams is slated for sixth place by the magazine.
Porscha Lucas will also contest the 100 and 200, sporting personal bests of 11.42 and 22.79, while Elizabeth Adeoti will run in the 100. Jennifer Williams qualified for the national meet in both hurdles, having recorded career best marks of 13.24 and 58.77 in the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles. Tresha Henry, who set a personal best of 13.55, will also run in the 100 hurdles.
A&M will also be well represented in the field events, where Caroline Wolf (fifth) and Kasey Onwuchekwa (eighth) are predicted to score points in the high jump and shot put, respectively. Wolf recently set a career best of 6-0 ½ in the high jump as the Midwest Region runner-up, while Onwuchekwa established a personal best of 57-2 during the indoor season and has hit a best of 54-5 ¼ twice outdoors.
The Aggies will enjoy two jumpers in the triple jump with Yasmine Regis and Ashika Charan, along with two throwers in the javelin with Michelle Inocencio and Jessica Wingfield. Charan, a California native, is also entered in the long jump.
Zuheir, who qualified for his second national meet after placing ninth at the NCAA Indoors, will also compete in front of friends and family as he returns to the Sacramento area where he attended Franklin High School in Elk Grove.
Other contenders for points on the men’s side include sprinters Richard Adu-Bobie in the 100 and Justin Oliver in the 400, along with 400 hurdler Nick Robinson.
Adu-Bobie, Oliver and Robinson each have prior NCAA experience. Adu-Bobie ran on a 4 x 100 relay that placed second in 2005 while competing for Florida. Oliver advanced to the semifinals of the 400 meters last year while Robinson ran in the first round of the 400 hurdles. Oliver and Robinson also ran in the qualifying round of the 4 x 400.
The Aggie 4 x 400 recorded a season best of 3:04.99 during the Midwest Regional while placing second to Baylor. A&M’s relay pool also includes Morquise Cleveland, Chris Dykes, Bryant McCombs, Marcus Pitre and A.C. Robinson.
The Bears are favored to win the NCAA relay while LSU, Kentucky and South Carolina are listed ahead of Texas A&M in T&FN’s form chart. The Aggies were runner-up to LSU at the Penn Relays while placing ahead of Kentucky and South Carolina.