Pair Of Steeplechase PRs Highlight A&M’s First Day At Penn Relays

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – A pair of career best times in the steeplechase highlighted Texas A&M’s day at the 118th running of the Penn Relays as Stephen Curry placed third in the Championship race and Isaac Spencer won the college section.

Earlier in the day qualifying races in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 had the Aggie women advancing to the Championship of America finals in both events in front of 23,075 fans, the 10th largest Thursday crowd at Franklin Field.

In the 3,000-meter steeplechase Curry managed to record a PR time under nine minutes with a 8:55.87 under ideal weather conditions. Spencer won the college section in 9:02.20. On the Aggie all-time list Curry moves to No. 6 while Spencer climbs to the No. 8 spot.

Then in the men’s Championship 5,000 meters a career best of 14:03.88 for MacLean O’Donnell earned him fourth place while teammate Kevin Burnett finished fifth with a 1404.28. O’Donnell’s effort moves him to No. 6 on the Aggie all-time list. Indiana’s Zachary Mayhew won the race in 13:53.94.

Indiana’s Andrew Poore won the college Championship of the steeplechase in 8:43.52 with Temple’s Travis Mahoney second in 8:48.18. Curry was in fourth place for a while and then moved up to third in the final couple of laps. Josh McAlary (8:58.68) of Michigan State was fourth with Liberty’s Josh MacDonald (9:00.84) fifth.

“This venue is great, it’s got the whole east coast appeal, and that is a change from College Station,” noted Curry. “I kind of like it. I feel very good about my race and finally getting a PR in the sub-nine club. This is a big confidence boost heading into the conference meet. It’s a big stepping stone for me and I’m excited to go to conference.

“Tonight in the stadium there was no wind and the forecast called for rain today, but there was none. It was perfect weather, with no humidity and no wind. Getting near the front pack helped as I was able to get behind someone and let them do the work for me.”

Spencer, who would have placed seventh in the Championship race, took over the lead in the college section with 300 meters remaining. He increased his lead to the finish, winning by three-plus seconds with Dominick Robinson of Duke runner-up at 9:05.57 and John Valentine of Mississippi State third in 9:08.95.

“This was the first race I’ve won all year long,” said Spencer. “What a better way to do it then at Penn Relays. Of course I would have preferred to be in the faster section, but I still ran a PR so I can’t complain. I just enjoyed the whole experience.

“When the leader came back to us and we finally caught up to him, I heard Coach McRaven yell that I can win this race. I was waiting for a perfect time to go and when I made that decision I wanted to make sure I could go all the way to the finish line.”

In the women’s pole vault Laura Asimakis tied for fourth place with a clearance of 13-5.25 (4.10) while Aly Daily placed ninth with a height clearance of 12-9.5 (3.90). Their event was delayed nearly two hours due to high school pole vault events contested prior to the college division.

Asimakis equaled the fourth-best performance on the Aggie all-time list, where she holds the school record of 13-10.5 (4.23).

Arkansas’ Tina Sutej won the pole vault title with a 14-3.25 (4.35) clearance. Second through fourth place all cleared 13-5.25 while sixth through 10th bettered 12-9.5.

The Aggies ran in the opening heat of the women’s 4 x 100 and posted a 44.66 winning time without blocks for LaKeidra Stewart, the leadoff leg. Handling the second leg for A&M was frosh Olivia Ekponé, a veteran of the Penn Relays from her high school days in Maryland, while Dominique Duncan and Ashley Collier took care of the third and fourth legs.

Finishing behind the Aggies in the heat were TCU (45.23) and Miami (46.14). TCU ended up with the ninth fastest time in qualifying and advanced to the college division final.

Texas A&M had the second fastest qualifying time overall, trailing only a 43.84 from Central Florida. The Aggies and UCF will be the top two seeds in the Championship of America final held on Friday. Joining them in the 4 x 100 final are Ohio State (44.79), LSU (44.79), Tennessee (44.98), Texas Tech (45.02), Auburn (45.10) and Houston (45.20).

As three-time defending winners of the Penn Relays 4 x 100, the Aggies can join LSU as the only school to win four consecutive titles in the sprint relay with a victory on Friday. The Tigers four-year run went from 1995 to 1998.

Winning times for Texas A&M the past three years were 43.10 (2009), 43.09 (2010), 43.24 (2011). The fastest time by an Aggie squad at Franklin Field was a scorching 42.69 that finished second to LSU’s 42.59 meet record in 2008.

LSU entered this year’s Penn Relays with the collegiate leading time of 42.99 while the Aggies have the second fastest collegiate time at 43.21, both marks being set in Austin during the Texas Relays on the last weekend of March.

Central Florida’s top time this season is a 43.35 from the Tom Jones Invitational in Gainesville this past weekend.

In the 4 x 400 the Aggies won the second heat in 3:35.14 with the foursome of Kanika Beckles (53.9), Ibukun Mayungbe (53.8), Donique’ Flemings (54.0) and Olivia Ekponé (53.2). They defeated Ohio State (3:36.39), Penn State (3:39.77) and Virginia Tech (3:41.69) in that heat.

Oregon turned in the top qualifying time of 3:33.78 while Illinois was second fastest with a 3:34.16. Texas A&M had the third best time followed by LSU (3:35.28), Texas Tech (3:36.03) and Ohio State. Rounding out the field of eight teams qualifying for the Championship of America final were Hampton (3:37.65) and Georgetown (3:37.94).

118th Penn Relay Carnival – Texas A&M Results
Women’s 4 x 100 qualifying
(Field of 78 teams, top 8 advance to Championship of America, Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET)

Top 8 times: Central Florida 43.84, Texas A&M 44.66, Ohio State 44.79, LSU 44.79, Tennessee 44.98, Texas Tech 45.02, Auburn 45.10, Houston 45.20.

Women’s 4 x 400 qualifying
(Field of 99 teams, top 8 advance to Championship of America, Saturday at 5:50 p.m. ET)

Top 8 times: Oregon 3:33.78, Illinois 3:34.16, Texas A&M 3:35.14, LSU 3:35.38, Texas Tech 3:36.03, Ohio State 3:36.38; Hampton 3:37.65, Georgetown 3:37.94.

Women’s Pole Vault - FINAL
1. Tina Sutej, Arkansas, 14-3.25 (4.35); 2. Mandissa Marshall, George Mason, 13-5.25 (4.10); 3. Kelsie Ahbe, Indiana, 13-5.25; 4. tie, Laura Asimakis, Texas A&M, 13-5.25 & Amy Fryt, Duke, 13-5.25; … 9. Aly Daily, Texas A&M, 12-9.5 (3.90).

Men’s Steeplechase - FINAL
Championship: 1. Andrew Poore, Indiana, 8:43.52; 2. Travis Mahoney, Temple, 8:48.18; 3. Stephen Curry, Texas A&M, 8:55.87; 4. Josh McAlary, Michigan State, 8:58.68; 5. Josh MacDonald, Liberty, 9:00.84.

College: 1. Isaac Spencer, Texas A&M, 9:02.20; 2. Dominick Robinson, Duke, 9:05.57; 3. John Valentine, Mississippi State, 9:08.95.

Men’s 5,000 meters - FINAL

Championship: 1. Zachary Mayhew, Indiana, 13:53.94; 2. Jake Byrne, Iona, 14:01.99; 3. Tecumseh Adams, Central Michigan, 14:02.59; 4. MacLean O’Donnell, Texas A&M, 14:03.88; 5. Kevin Burnett, Texas A&M, 14:04.28.

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