COLUMBIA, Mo. – Four victories by Texas A&M highlighted their third day of action at the SEC Track and Field Championships, hosted by the University of Missouri. Qualifying races produced a crew of 13 Aggies into seven more finals on Sunday’s concluding day.
Texas A&M earned a pair of SEC titles in throwing events as Aggie senior Sam Humphreys claimed his fourth consecutive conference title in the javelin with a facility record mark of 257-1 (78.36) and A&M frosh Shelbi Vaughan captured her first title in the discus with a 185-10 (56.65).
Another Aggie frosh LaQue Moen-Davis won the long jump title with a wind-aided mark of 21-6 (6.55w) while senior Henry Lelei controlled the tempo in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for an 8:38.11 victory.
The four wins by the Aggies made a major contribution to the A&M team scores. Through seven of 21 finals Arkansas leads the men’s team scoring with 57 points, Florida is second with 47 and the Aggies are third with 37. Rounding out the top five are Georgia (31) and Missouri (22).
Arkansas also leads the women’s team score with 50 points through eight of 21 women’s. Georgia is currently second with 49 points followed by LSU (31), Florida (26) and Texas A&M (25).
The SEC Championships conclude on Sunday with a start time of 1 p.m. and will conclude at 6:35 p.m. Coverage of the final day will air on ESPN3.com from 2:50 to 6:45 p.m. CT. The meet action outside of the ESPN3 window on Sunday will air live at MUTigers.com.
Qualifiers from Saturday prelims for the Aggies included Juan Blanco (1500), Wayne Davis II (110 hurdles), Kenneth Minkah (110 hurdles), Donique’ Flemings (100 hurdles), Deon Lendore (400), Ricky Babineaux (400), Carlyle Roudette (400), Ibukun Mayungbe (400), Kamaria Brown (400), Ameer Webb (100), Ashton Purvis (100), Jennifer Madu (100) and India Daniels (100).
Humphreys would have won the javelin competition with any of his six throws as he produced the third best winning distance in the SEC since 1984. His series into a heavy headwind included marks of 247-5 (75.42), 248-4 (75.71), 257-1 (78.36), 251-8 (76.72), 255-10 (77.99), 245-6 (74.82). Humphreys winning mark is the sixth best performance on the Aggie all-time list.
“Coming back to the same field that I won my first conference title, I was determined to win my last conference title here as well,” said Humphreys, who won three Big 12 titles with his first also at Columbia, Missouri in 2010. “I’m so happy that I was able to accomplish that goal. I put my heart and soul into all four years and it feels so good. That was the biggest thing for me right now, winning four conference titles.”
Humphreys bettered the facility record of 249-3 (75.98) set by Scott Russell of Kansas in 2002 and was aiming for the SEC meet record of 261-4 (79.65) set by Georgia’s Chris Hill in 2009. The next best winning SEC mark over the past 28 years was a 257-10 by Leigh Smith of Tennessee in 2004.
“It’s special to come back here and break the facility record,” stated Humphreys. “I wanted the SEC meet record before I left, but it’s too bad the wind was so strong today. We had a steady 20 mile per hour head wind. I would have loved for it to have been 5 to 10 mph that would be perfect for me.”
Sophomore teammate Devin Bogert finished fifth in the event as A&M totaled 14 points. Bogert had a best of 219-4 (66.85) from the fifth round. Finishing 22 feet behind Humphreys as runner-up was Raymond Dykstra of Kentucky with a 235-1 (71.65) while Arkansas’ Jeff Woods placed third with a 226-5 (69.01).
Vaughan started off her discus adventure with a pair of out of sector fouls. Needing a mark in the third round to move on to the final three rounds, Vaughan promptly produced the winning mark of 185-10 (56.65).
“It’s really exciting to win the SEC,” said Vaughan, who is also a member of the Aggie volleyball team. “Back when I first started throwing I had no idea I would be in this situation. But now that I’m here it’s really exciting and a great opportunity. That has been one of my goals, and it has been since I came to A&M. I want to be a four-year conference champion.
“Most of my major meets have been like that with early fouls, even the US Junior Championships last summer. I’m kind of used to it by now, so I have the composure to get my last throw in before finals.”
Moving along to the finals of the discus, Vaughan had a 169-1 (51.54) effort in the fourth stanza and then had another pair of out of sector fouls. Runner-up to Vaughan was a mark of 177-4 (54.05) from Missouri sophomore Kearsten Peoples while third place went Kentucky freshman Becky Famurewa (170-5 / 51.95).
The winning mark for Vaughan is the number four performance on the Aggie all-time list and left her just shy of the facility record 190-1 set last year. Vaughan’s mark was also the fourth best winning mark since LSU’s Danyel Mitchell set the conference meet record of 194-4 in 1994.
Moen-Davis only had a pair of marks measured in the long jump amid four fouls. She took over the lead with a 21-2.75 (6.47) in the second round and then closed out the event with a winning leap of 21-6 (6.55). Both efforts were wind-aided by a 3.3 and 5.3 meter per second wind, respectively.
“Coach VanHootegem had a goal for me to try to get 22 feet today, so that’s what I tried to do today,” noted Moen-Davis, who won the SEC Indoor triple jump and placed 13th in the long jump. “It motivated me to see Sam get a win in the javelin earlier in the day and then Shelbi win the discus. I wanted to do my best so I could do my part towards us winning a SEC championship and contribute to the team.”
Runner-up to Moen-Davis was a 20-11.75 (6.39) from Mississippi State’s Erica Bougard while LSU’s Keri Emanuel placed third with a 20-7 (6.27) effort.
The 21-6 for Moen-Davis is the second best effort ever at Texas A&M, trailing only a windy 22-2.25 (6.76) by Adrien Sawyer in 1997. The Aggie school record is a wind-legal 21-5.25 (6.53) that Sawyer produced to win the 1997 Big 12 title.
“My runs down the runway have been getting better and better,” said Moen-Davis. “Coach VanHootegem didn’t want to change my takeoff mark on the runway. Instead he wanted me to be more consistent in doing what I’m supposed to be doing on each jump. It worked and produced a victory today.”
The final victory on the day belonged to Lelei as he covered the 3,000-meter steeplechase in comfortable looking 8:38.11 that won the race by a couple of seconds over Stanley Kebenei of Arkansas (8:40.23) with Aggie teammate Isaac Spencer in third at 8:53.73.
Lelei, who clocked the fastest SEC winning time since 2007, ran the second fastest time in A&M history as he trailed only his school record of 8:32.94 set in April.
“It’s great to win, especially in the SEC,” said Lelei, who now has four conference titles this academic year through cross country, indoor and outdoor track. “This is my last SEC meet, so I was thinking I have to win this. The temperature was okay, but coach warned us this morning it was going to be very windy.
“That wasn’t on my mind though I knew I had to win despite the wind. There wasn’t a lot of pressure from the Arkansas runner, and I knew he would be the only challenger for me.”
Spencer added: “Before the race coach McRaven told me Henry was going to take it out early and I needed to be smart. He figured Kebenei and Parrish of Florida would go with Henry, but they may not last. The wind was a factor, but I was able to challenge Parrish for third. When I passed Parrish, he didn’t have anything left to answer me with.”