COLLEGE STATION – In its fifth season of hosting high caliber dual meets at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium, the Aggies will double the task this week with a Triangular featuring a pair of tradition rich schools in Arkansas and LSU.
“You look forward to these types of meets, because this brings out the best in your athletes,” noted Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “They know the competition is a good as it gets. You find out where you are right now. The goal is to come out and compete hard, plus you’re going to have great competition to do it in.”
The three-hour meet, which starts at 11 a.m., will use a scoring system of 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 in individual events and 7, 5, 4 in relay events. Two athletes per team score in individual events and one relay squad per team scores. A live web cast of the meet is available through www.aggieathletics.com while live results and team scoring are available through www.flashresults.com.
“These kinds of meets are usually won by two or three points,” said Henry. “As an athlete you have to understand that if your best effort only scores one point, that’s okay since you still scored one point. That could still end up being the determining factor. It’s important for our team to know that. We've won a couple of national championships right at the end of the track meet by one or two points.”
The three schools competing in the A&M Triangular have claimed 77 national championships in track and field. Arkansas men have accumulated 40 NCAA titles (29 in track and field, 11 in cross country), LSU has attained 31 championships and Texas A&M achieved six NCAA Outdoor titles in a three-year span from 2009-2011, three each for the men and women.
Henry was the head coach at LSU during 27 of the Tigers national championships and has added six more NCAA titles while at Texas A&M.
Each squad enters the weekend meet ranked among the top 10 in the USTFCCCA computer rankings and each is highly ranked among the dual meet rankings produced by Track & Field News this season.
Arkansas men are No. 1 in both polls with the Aggie men No. 2 in the dual meet rankings and No. 8 in the national team computer rankings while LSU is No. 8 in dual meet and No. 10 in the national rankings.
LSU women are No. 1 in the dual meet rankings and No. 4 nationally while the A&M women are No. 2 in the dual and No. 6 nationally with Arkansas No. 5 and No. 7.
Texas A&M returns 18 All-Americans this season, 10 for the men and eight for the women. For this meet the Aggie men are led by Henry Lelei in the distance events, Wayne Davis II in the hurdles and a sprint crew that includes Deon Lendore, Prezel Hardy, Jr., Ricky Babineaux and Michael Bryan. Sprint power added to that group comes from Aldrich Bailey, Jr., a World Junior bronze medalist in the 400.
For the A&M women, national scorers competing this weekend include a sprint squad consisting of Kamaria Brown, the NCAA Indoor 200m bronze medalist in 2012, Ashley Collier, and Donique’ Flemings. Returning members of the Aggie 4 x 400 also include Olivia Ekponé, Kanika Beckles and Ibukun Mayungbe. A newcomer who may make an impact in the Triangular is Janeil Bellille, a NJCAA champion over 400 hurdles, who will contest the 400 for A&M.
LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan, the Bowerman winner in 2012, is a four-time NCAA champion in the 200 meters, having won a pair of titles indoors and a pair outdoor. She headlines an LSU women’s team and sports an 18-meet winning streak against collegiate competition in the 200.
The sprint and hurdle crew for the Tiger women also includes Takeia Pinckney, Toshika Sylvester and Jasmin Stowers. In the middle distance LSU gets a boost from Natoya Goule, a NJCAA champion in the 800 and 1500.
For the Tiger men Caleb Williams will contest his first 400 of the season. He finished fifth in the NCAA Indoor 400 a year ago. Another outstanding sprinter is Aaron Ernest, who clocked 20.80 last week in the 200. He will run that event again this weekend and enters his first 60 of the season. The vault is another solid event area for LSU with Andreas Duplantis and Thomas Reinecke.
The Razorback men return 13 All-Americans which includes three members of their NCAA champion 4 x 400 relay – Neil Braddy, Akheem Gauntlett and Marek Nitt. Gauntlett was also a NCAA Indoor runner-up in the 200 last year. Other national scorers competing for the Arkansas men on Saturday include Caleb Cross (60 hurdles), Kevin Lazas (heptathlon), Raymond Higgs (long jump), and the distance medley relay crew of Anthony Lieghio, Leoman Momoh, Patrick Rono and Travis Southard.
Eight All-Americans return for the Razorback women. The group includes Makeba Alcide, defending SEC pentathlon champion, and Regina George, the SEC 400m outdoor winner. Three members of the Arkansas 4 x 400 return from the unit that placed fourth in the NCAA meet, indoors and outdoors last season. They include George as well as Gwendolyn Flowers and Chrishuna Williams. Other All-Americans competing at Gilliam include Ivanique Kemp (60 hurdles) and Martine Borge (800).