PHILADELPHIA – An impressive Saturday session for Texas A&M in front of 49,103 fans at the 120th Penn Relays included three more victories and a runner-up finish in a school record time. The three-day carnival attracted a crowd total of 108,660 as the Aggies produced two relay Championship of America titles along with three individual titles.
Another Championship of America relay title for the Aggie women came in the 4x200 with a time of 1:30.21, while the A&M men set a school record of 1:20.29 amid a runner-up finish their 4x200 race. Wayne Davis II and Olivia Ekponé successfully defended their individual titles in the 110 hurdles and 100 meters with times of 13.50 and 11.23.
“We had some really high end performances today, but we also had a bad day on some things we did,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “It’s really a great day for us and a really poor day for us at the same time. We’ve got a lot of things we are going to get better at, we can’t make the mental errors we had a couple of times today.
“To run that fast with the 4x200 was special today as was defending titles with Wayne Davis and Olivia Ekponé. It was a great day for them. I’m pleased with the day, but not real happy with the day.”
The Aggie women claimed their sixth 4x200 relay title in the past seven years, clocking a time of 1:30.21 that is the fifth fastest ever at the Penn Relays. The foursome included Ashton Purvis, Shamier Little, Olivia Ekponé and Kamaria Brown. They produced the fourth fastest time on the A&M all-time list.
Finishing behind A&M were Texas (1:30.26), South Carolina (1:33.00), Penn State (1:33.09), and Connecticut (1:33.38).
“Everyone gave their best effort and that led us to a victory,” said Brown. “It’s amazing to come back here, defend our title and win a sixth title in this event as well. It’s good having competition like we had this year with Texas back at the Penn Relays. It pushes everyone to better their time. I wasn’t able to run at Texas Relays against them, so we knew we could give it our all here at Penn.”
Wayne Davis II defended his Penn Relays in the 110 hurdles with a time of 13.50 seconds (0.8 wind) to remain undefeated in his senior campaign. The Syracuse tandem of Donald Pollitt (13.73) and Freddie Crittenden (13.89) placed second and third.
“This is my second time at the relays and my second win,” noted Davis. “I felt really good going into the race, defending the title. I was just more focused than yesterday. I had a few technical issues in the prelims since I was working on something new, and my technique totally screwed me up.
“So I went back to my old way. It’s best to do what makes you run fastest. From the fourth or fifth step I thought I was in the lead. When I went over the first hurdle I thought that if I went over all of them like this I would definitely win.”
Ekponé also had a successful title defense in the women’s 100 meter and teammate Aaliyah Brown finished second. While Ekponé set a career best of 11.23 (0.5 wind), Brown posted an 11.34. Ekponé time is No. 6 on the A&M all-time list while Brown was just shy of her PR of 11.31 set last week at LSU. The Aggie tandem defeated Cierra White of Texas Tech (11.46), who was the top qualifier in the prelims.
“This is like my third home, and my family is at the finish line of the 100, which motivated me,” stated Ekponé. “The competition was stacked. It was Aaliyah's first time so I wanted to show her a good time and make sure she was comfortable.”
A time of 1:20.29 broke the Texas A&M school record and placed the Aggie men second in the 4x200 relay behind a 1:20.07 by UTech of Jamaica with LSU third in 1:21.47. The A&M foursome included Carlyle Roudette, Prezel Hardy, Jr., Shavez Hart and Deon Lendore.
A&M’s time is the seventh fastest time at the Penn Relays and makes the Aggies the fourth fastest U.S. collegiate team ever with the seventh best performance.
“I like to run in front of a big crowd,” noted Hart. “It was a new relay team we put together this weekend. We went out there today and expected to run fast. We wanted to go for the collegiate record, but we got a new school record. A school record at Texas A&M, with all the great athletes they have had, is real big for us.”
Closing out the meet with the Championship of America races in the 4x400, the A&M women placed third with a season best 3:29.96, No. 7 on Aggie all-time list, while a dropped baton hampered the A&M men as they finished fourth with a 3:06.94.
The women’s quartet included Ekponé (53.6), Little (52.7), Ibukun Mayungbe (52.58) and K. Brown (51.08). Texas took an early lead and was never challenged while registering a 3:25.05 meet record with Oregon second at 3:29.82. The Ducks had set the meet record with a 3:26.73 last year.
The crew for the men included Hart (47.0), Hardy (46.5) Roudette (48.62) and Lendore (44.84). The pass from Hardy to Roudette dropped to the track, knocking the Aggies out of contention. Pittsburgh won the race in 3:03.44 with Texas second at 3:05.13 while Oregon placed third in 3:06.31.
The men’s 4x800 relay placed 10th with the foursome of Gaines Kinsey (1:53.57), Josh Hernandez (1:51.82), Cameron Cardwell (1:52.68) and Hector Hernandez (1:49.78). Villanova claimed the title in 7:16.58 with Penn State (7.18.99) and Georgetown (7:19.27) in second and third.