EUGENE, Oregon (AP) -- Texas A&M’s first team points at the NCAA Championships were picked up in the men’s pole vault during the first day of action in front of 9,165 fans at Hayward Field. The Aggies also advanced eight entries to finals during semifinal races on Wednesday.
Deon Lendore led A&M in posting the leading time of 45.18 seconds in the 400 meter semifinal races while Shamier Little improved her career best in the 400 hurdles to 55.58, which is No. 5 on the all-time U.S. Junior list.
Advancing to finals in their respective events were Shavez Hart in the men’s 100, Olivia Ekponé and Jennifer Madu in the women’s 100 as well as Little and Janeil Bellille in the 400 hurdles. Both Aggie 4x100 relays also qualified for finals.
Thursday’s action includes the start of the heptathlon for Jena Hemann along with finals in the men’s hammer for Casey Strong, the women’s discus with Shelbi Vaughan and the men’s long jump for Olabanji Asekun. Semifinal races on Thursday include the 200 meters, 110 hurdles and 4x400 relays.
Wolfle picked up 3.5 points in his tie for fifth in the pole vault as he cleared 18-0.5 (5.50). Wolfle is the fourth Aggie to finish fifth in a NCAA Championship pole vault and becomes the first A&M vaulter to score at the NCAA Outdoor meet since 2001.
Only Randy Hall has jumped higher at the national championship event with a then meet record of 18-2 to win the 1980 title. Jon Nance also cleared 18-0.5 to place fifth in 2000.
After passing the opening height of 16-8.75, Wolfle needed three attempts to get over 17-2.75 and 17-8.5. At 18-0.5 he managed to clear on his second try. Three misses at 18-4.5 (5.60) left him in a tie for fifth with Minnesota’s Zach Siegmeier.
SEC champion Sam Kendrick of Mississippi claimed the pole vault title with a 18-8.25 (5.70) clearance as Akron’s Shawn Barber finished second with a 18-6.5 (5.65) while Tennessee’s Jake Blakenship placed third at 18-2.5 (5.55).
In the semifinal round of the 4x100 relay the Aggie men posted the top time of 38.60 while the defending champion A&M women’s sprint relay crew won their heat in 43.44, which was the third best time among the three heats.
The A&M men ran with a crew of Prezel Hardy, Jr., Shavez Hart, Michael Bryan and Aldrich Bailey, Jr. as they race to a victory over LSU (38.85), USC (39.08) and Iowa (39.19). Florida won the third heat in 38.77 over Alabama (39.36) while Western Kentucky claimed the first heat in 39.18 over Arizona State (39.26).
The foursome included Jennifer Madu, Ashton Purvis, Kamaria Brown and Olivia Ekponé for the Aggie women. Ekponé passed Alabama’s Ramona Burchell for the semifinal win and held off the charge by Texas anchor Morolake Akinosun. The Longhorns were second in the heat with a 43.69 while Alabama ran 43.76 with Florida State fourth in 44.17.
USC recorded the fastest women’s 4x100 relay time with a 43.08 as they defeated Florida (43.26) in the first semifinal heat. Ohio State won the second heat in 43.94 over LSU’s 43.95. Oregon, meanwhile, did not finish as they had problems with the first exchange.
Lendore ran the opening heat of the 400 and his 45.18 had him winning by a large margin over Florida’s Hugh Graham, Jr., who clocked 45.83 as runner-up. Two other Aggies in the first heat included Carlyle Roudette (46.36) and Aldrich Bailey, Jr. (46.71) as they placed fifth and sixth in the race and finished 14th and 19th overall.
Bralon Taplin placed third in the final heat with a 45.81 behind Oregon’s Mike Berry (45.41) and Florida State’s James Harris (45.75). While Taplin’s time was faster than Graham’s automatic qualifier of 45.83, he missed advancing on time since 45.68 was the final time qualifier.
The men’s 100 had Shavez Hart placing second in the final heat in 10.18 (wind 0.6) while Prezel Hardy, Jr. finished third with a 10.28 and didn’t advance on time. Florida State’s Dentarius Locke won the heat in 10.13. Wind-aided marks in the first two heats produced the time qualifiers of 10.12 and 10.13. The fastest time was a 9.92w from Baylor’s Trayvon Bromell.
A pair of Aggies advanced in the women’s 100 with Ekponé and Madu placing second and third in the same heat with times of 11.12 and 11.23. Madu advanced to the final on time. The winner of the heat in 11.11 was Oregon’s Jenna Prandini , who won the long jump with a leap of 21-6 (6.55).
Ashton Purvis placed third in the first 100 heat, running a wind-aided 11.30 while Aaliyah Brown clocked 11.32 for third in the second heat. Neither advanced on time.
Little ran another sizzling time to breeze through her semifinal heat of the 400 hurdles, taking the lead for good coming off the eighth hurdle. LSU’s Nikita Tracey ran 56.44 as runner-up in the heat. Bellille had a controlled pace in her race to win the heat in 56.44 over a 57.40 from Arizona’s Nnenya Hailey.
Kentucky’s Kendra Harrison, the SEC champion, posted the fastest time with a 55.56 to win the second heat. Of the eight finalists, six hail from SEC schools with two apiece from Texas A&M, LSU and Kentucky.
In the men’s 400 hurdles A&M’s Gregory Coleman ran 51.02 for fifth place in his heat and 13th overall. Last season he placed ninth overall in the semifinal round to miss out on the finals.
Hector Hernandez did not advance in the 800 meters as he placed fifth in his heat with a 1:49.02. Among the lead from the start of the race, Hernandez led the field through 400m at 52.84 with Florida’s Sean Obinwa in second at 52.96. Neither would remain in the lead as the race passed 600m.
Chris Low of Long Beach State claimed the heat victory in 1:48.34 over a 1:48.77 from Washington’s Derrick Daigre while Oregon’s Boru Guyota was third in 1:48.87. Obinwa ended up in fourth at 1:48.98 just a stride ahead of Hernandez.
SEC champion Brandon McBride of Mississippi State was the top qualifier in 1:48.09 over Patrick Rono of Arkansas with a 1:48.20.
The only other final on the first day of the NCAA Championships involving Texas A&M was the women’s hammer. Brea Garrett threw 179-3 (54.65) in the first round and then had a pair of fouls. That placed her 11th in the first flight of throwers and she finished 23rd overall.