COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M hosts the Mondo Challenge this Friday and Saturday at Gilliam Indoor Stadium featuring two teams each from the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12. The Aggies will pair up with Tennessee in the SEC while TCU and Texas Tech form the Big 12 alliance and the Pac-12 is represented by Arizona State and USC.
Action begins at 6 p.m. on Friday evening with finals in the distance medley relay, the women’s 5000 meters and a pentathlon. On Saturday finals begin at 2 p.m. Live results will be available through www.flashresults.com and a live web steam of the meet is available through www.aggieathletics.com.
Olympic development races in the 200 and 400 meters will feature Aggie All-Americans who are competing as post-collegians. In the women’s 200, Jessica Beard and Dominique Duncan square off while Andrea Sutherland runs in the 400. On the men’s side Tabarie Henry and Michael Preble will compete in the 400.
In the third consecutive home meet for Texas A&M this indoor season the Aggies will see the debut of a three new additions to the team during the Mondo Challenge in Juan Blanco, Elliott Farris, and Bralon Taplin.
Taplin, who competed at Round Rock Stony Point in high school as well as South Plains junior college, was the Texas high school 5A state champion in the 400 meters in 2010, clocking a winning time of 47.03 seconds. Taplin also claimed the 2012 NJCAA 400m title in 46.00. In 2012, he recorded a career best time of 45.36 in the 400 at the Red Raider Invitational in Lubbock, where he also anchored a 3:01.32 winning 4 x 400 relay.
Blanco, a sophomore from El Paso Eastwood High School, comes to A&M after spending his freshman season at UTEP. Farris, a freshman, was home schooled in El Paso and has recorded best times of 4:01.23 for the 1,500 and 8:44.88 for 3,000 meters. Blanco was a member of the Miners distance medley relay that placed fourth in Conference USA and recorded a career best of 4:14.32 in the mile along with an 8:34.74 in the 3,000 meters. Outdoors, Blanco posted a 1:53.55 in the 800 and 4:04.37 over 1,500m.
Taplin is scheduled to make his debut on Friday evening running the 400m leg of the distance medley relay. Joining Taplin are James Bonn in the opening 1200m leg, Nick Rollo in the 800m portion and Colin Slattery anchoring the mile leg. Texas A&M women’s distance medley relay is expected to run with the order of Ashley Chamberlain, LaKeidra Stewart, Aliese Hyde and Sophie Blake.
Annie Kunz will compete in the pentathlon for the Aggies on Friday. She is currently third on the A&M all-time list with a score of 3,823 points from last year’s conference meet. The school record in the event is 3,919 set by Daphne Fitzpatrick in 2011.
A highlight race on Saturday is likely to be the men’s mile where A&M school record holder Henry Lelei faces NCAA cross country champion Kennedy Kithuka from Texas Tech. Lelei finished fifth in the NCAA Championship race this past fall.
After winning a pair of long jump titles the past two weeks, where she currently tops the U.S. and collegiate list with a mark of 20-11.25 (6.38), Aggie frosh LaQue Moen-Davis will triple jump during the Mondo Challenge and compete in the 60 hurdles with teammate Donique’ Flemings.
In the men’s sprints Michael Bryan headlines the Aggie entries in the 60, and he will join Aldrich Bailey, Jr. and Ameer Webb in the 200. In the 400, Carlyle Roudette, fresh off a career best 47.38, will share the same section with teammate Ricky Babineaux.
Hector Hernandez moved to No. 10 on the Aggie all-time list in the 800 with a 1:51.09 from last week. He will join James Bonn, Cameron Thornton and Raul Ramirez in the first section of the event this week.
Women sprints will feature the Aggie trio of Ashley Collier, Jennifer Madu and Ashton Purvis in the 60. Madu and Purvis are also in the 200 with Olivia Ekponé, Chandrell Stephens and LaKeidra Stewart. For the 400, A&M will run Kamaria Brown and Kanika Beckles.
Casey Strong will be hunting another school record in the weight throw after accomplishing his goal of 65 feet last week. Strong, who currently has the A&M record mark at 65-0.75 (19.83), has improved his school record while claiming four consecutive victories this season. Arizona State’s Jordan Clarke is the top entry in the men’s shot put where his best of 68-5.25 (20.86) will likely have him challenging the meet record of 66-7.75 (20.31) set last season.
The women’s throwing events are highlighted by Arizona State shot putter Anna Jelmini and Tennessee’s Jessie Harrison in the weight. They will be challenged by Brea Garrett and Shelbi Vaughan in the shot put while Garrett teams up with Jennifer Edwards and Jill Hydrick in the weight throw.