PHILADELPHIA – Winning the women’s 4x100 relay for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year at the 119th Penn Relay Carnival produced a historic achievement for Texas A&M during Friday’s portion of the meet in front of 39,103 fans at Franklin Field.
The Aggie sprint relay crew of LaKeidra Stewart, Ashton Purvis, Kamaria Brown and Ashley Collier posted a winning time of 43.05 seconds for the victory, notching the sixth fastest time in Penn Relays history. For Collier it was the third time for her to be on a winning 4x100 at the Penn Relays.
“I just made sure I got the stick from Kamaria and ran my hardest to the finish line,” said Collier.
Another relay victory on the day for the Aggie women followed in the shuttle hurdle relay as Donique’ Flemings ran on her third winning relay in the event over the past four years. Joining Flemings on the victorious effort were Jena Hemann, Annie Kunz and LaQue Moen-Davis. They ran 55.30 to better the field by over a second.
In the sprint relay the 43.05 by the Aggies claimed the race over a 43.32 from UTech of Jamaica with LSU third in 43.91. The rest of the field included Kentucky 44.44, Oregon 44.57, G.C. Foster 44.64, Johnson C. Smith 45.02 and Norfolk State 45.47.
“It was amazing at the start of the race with the crowd screaming other team’s names,” said Stewart. “It pumped me up to get the lead and help my team out.”
Purvis added: “Running on the second leg with LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan and English Gardner from Oregon encourages me to run faster since I’m competing against two elite sprinters.”
No matter the line-up A&M has had during the run of five consecutive victories in the women’s 4x100, the same philosophy in execution holds true each time.
“Our main goal is to run through the zone and make sure all the exchanges were good,” explained Brown.
The Aggies won the shuttle hurdle race by over a second as Western Michigan placed second in 56.58 while Cornell finished third in 57.59.
“It’s exciting to be on three winning relays over the span of my career at Texas A&M,” said Flemings, who ran on the collegiate record setting win of 52.50 in 2010 as a freshman and was also part of the 2011 victory in 53.41 as a sophomore. “This group of ladies with me this year ran well and did their job. We came out successful. To win three times in one event is special, and to be part of that with three different groups of ladies is a great feeling.
“I saw we were a bit behind when Jena finished her opening leg. I didn’t think about it too much, I just knew I had to run my leg to put us back in it so that the rest of the girls could run their legs.”
Hemann had an awkward start to the race, but Flemings helped make up ground on the second leg. Then Kunz and Moen-Davis did their part to secure the victory.
“I was a little upset with my start,” stated Hemann. “I was kind of rushed since I wasn’t ready in the set position. The girls were behind me 100 percent and picked up the slack I left behind. It was awesome to see us get the win.”
Kunz added: “We’ve been working on the hurdles in practice every week and I’ve been improving. I just wanted to run as well as I could and help get the team as far ahead as I could. It was different since you’re not competing for yourself, your competing for a team. It was a different atmosphere, but I was glad to have the opportunity to run with these ladies.”
After winning the long jump on Thursday, Moen-Davis added a relay title on Saturday with her effort as the anchor leg in the shuttle hurdles.
“I wanted to contribute my part to the team,” said Moen-Davis. “Competing with this group of girls was exciting, I had fun today.”
Moen-Davis also finished second in the women’s championship of the triple jump with a wind-aided mark of 43-5 (13.23w). The winner of the event was Shanieka Thomas of San Diego State with a leap of 44-8 (13.61). The long jump title Moen-Davis won on Thursday was the second claimed by an Aggie, joining the 2007 title Ashika Charan won.
Thomas entered the meet with a collegiate leading mark of 45-1.5 (13.75). Third place in the event went to Maryland’s Thea LaFond with a windy 42-11.75 (13.10) while LSU’s Keri Emanuel placed fourth with a 41-3.75 (12.59). A solid series of marks for Moen-Davis included 41-9.75 (12.74), 42-11.75 (13.10), 41-9.25 (12.73), 42-0.5 (12.81), 43-5w (13.23w) and 42-7.5 (12.99).
The college women’s triple jump had Jordan Wilson placing third with a distance of 40-9.75w (12.44) while Haley Gooch finished ninth with a windy 39-8.75 (12.11).
Setting up for Saturday’s final day Texas A&M had the leading qualifying times in the men’s and women’s 4x200 heats as well as the men’s 4x400 prelims on Friday.
Deon Lendore equaled the 11th fastest split in Penn Relays history, and fastest since 2000, with an impressive 44.3 that capped a leading time of 3:03.60 for the Aggies in the men’s 4x400. The first three legs of the relay included Ricky Babineux (47.0), Aldrich Bailey, Jr. (46.0), and Carlyle Roudette (46.3). Finishing second to A&M in the heat was Middle Tennessee in 3:07.12.
“This is the best weather we’ve had up here, so we wanted to take advantage of it,” noted Lendore. “We knew we had to run a fast time to get a good lane for the final. Last week I messed up a bit in the 4x400 at LSU, so today I gave it my all. I knew if I ran my heart out we’d run fast.
“It felt good running that fast on the anchor leg. It was a wonderful crowd and they brought me home. When I get introduced as an Olympic bronze medalist with the Trinidad relay it kind of puts a target on my back. So it gets me to race hard since I know everyone is coming for me.”
Advancing to Saturday’s final with the Aggies are the following schools: St. Augustine’s 3:04.90, Mississippi State 3:05.15, Middle Tennessee 3:07.12, Delaware State 3:07.39, Pittsburgh 3:07.61, Oregon 3:08.14 and Hampton 3:08.99.
In 4x200 qualifying the A&M women cruised to a leading time of 1:32.55 with the crew of Ashton Purvis, Ibukun Mayungbe, Olivia Ekpone and Kamaria Brown. Finishing second to the Aggies was Kentucky (1:36.18) who placed ninth overall.
The seven teams joining A&M in the women’s 4x200 final on Saturday are Rutgers (1:34.17), G.C. Foster (1:34.21), Indiana Tech (1:34.35), South Carolina (1:35.30), Norfolk State (1:35.34), Houston (1:35.58) and George Mason (1:35.87).
A 1:21.76 was the leading time in the men’s 4x200 qualifying with the Aggies running a foursome of Michael Bryan, Prezel Hardy, Aldrich Bailey, Jr., and Ameer Webb. Runner-up to A&M was Delaware State with a 1:25.03, who finished ninth overall.
Running the final with the Aggies in Saturday’s final are St. Augustine’s 1:22.99, UTech 1:23.40, Middle Tennessee 1:23.81, South Carolina 1:23.98, Tennessee 1:24.25 and Savannah State 1:24.46.
The same Aggie foursome in the men’s 4x200 also ran in the prelims of the 4x100, winning their heat in 40.60 with the order of Webb, Bailey, Bryan and Hardy. However, the first pass of the baton was made outside the exchange zone and A&M was disqualified.
Qualifiers for individual finals on Saturday include Ameer Webb and Olivia Ekpone in their respective 100 meters as well as Wayne Davis II and Flemings in the 110 and 100 hurdles.
Webb ran 10.42 into a -1.4 head wind to place second in the first heat of the 100 behind a 10.33 by UTech’s Andrew Fisher. Those were the top two times posted in the qualifying round. Ekpone won her heat of the 100 in 11.59 (0.0 wind), which was third best overall. India Daniels placed third in the same heat with an 11.74. Jermaine Davis placed seventh in a men’s heat of the 100 with a 10.77 to place 18th overall.
Wayne Davis claimed the first heat of the 110 hurdles in 13.90 (-0.6) and his time was second best overall to a 13.86 run by Donald Pollitt of Syracuse. Flemings followed her exploits in the shuttle hurdle relay with a 13.36 heat win over 100 hurdles, equaling the top qualifying time also set by Evonne Britton of Penn State.
Other finals on Friday included a men’s sprint medley consisting of Ricky Babineaux, Jermaine Davis, Carlyle Roudette and Hector Hernandez placed sixth in the first section of the final, running a time of 3:21.02. University of West Indies Mona won the race in 3:17.81 with Mississippi State second in 3:18.32 and Penn State taking third at 3:18.52. Finishing behind A&M were Kentucky (3:21.45), Pittsburgh (3:21.70) and Western Kentucky (3:22.48).
In the men’s distance medley relay the Aggies placed 10th in 9:48.40 with the foursome of Juan Blanco, Hector Hernandez, Josh Hernandez and Henry Lelei. Penn State won the race in 9:24.68, with Villanova second at 9:26.80, and Oregon third with a 9:27.09. Finishing behind the Aggies were Michigan (9:54.89) and Tennessee (10:02.57).