PHILADELPHIA, PA -- A winning time of 43.87 seconds secured Texas A&M’s victory in the women’s Championship of America 4 x 100 final on a 50-degree day in front of 39,531 fans at Franklin Field. The Aggie win marked the fourth consecutive title, matching the achievement only previously accomplished by LSU from 1995 to 1998.
On Saturday, A&M will be involved in seven Championship of America relay races and one individual event. The Aggie women are running the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 while the men will be contesting the 4 x 100, 4 x 200, 4 x 400, 4 x 800 and 4 x Mile. Wayne Davis II advanced to the final of the men’s 110 hurdles.
The winning A&M sprint relay quartet included LaKeidra Stewart, Olivia Ekponé, Dominique Duncan and Ashley Collier.
“We knew we were going to be underdogs this season since we lost to LSU at Texas Relays,” said Duncan, who has been a member of the last three Aggie winning 4 x 100 relays. “We were focused on achieving what we thought we could do. It’s really exciting to be part of this many winning relays at Penn.”
LSU finished second to A&M with a 44.01 as Central Florida, who posted the leading time in qualifying, placed third with a 44.26 clocking. The rest of the field included Ohio State (44.70), Auburn (44.86), Tennessee (44.98), Texas Tech (45.03) and Houston (45.09).
“It was cold out here today, so to win in these conditions is good,” Collier stated. “I’m proud of everyone’s effort on the relay. I’m so happy to be here and have a victory. I couldn’t tell how close LSU was getting, but I know Kimberlyn can run. I knew I just had to keep going.”
Running in lane seven with UCF stationed in lane six and LSU out in nine, the Aggies built their lead though each of the three baton exchanges. Then Collier withheld the charge from LSU anchor Kimberlyn Duncan, who is the current collegiate leader in the 100 meters with an 11.05 best this season.
“It was a great experience, I just wanted to set it up for my team from the opening leg,” Stewart said. “I knew we were competing against some strong teams and it’s a preview of what may happen at nationals. I just wanted to make sure I did a good job. I’ll never forget this experience, it was tremendous to be part of this.”
Ekpone, who attended the Penn Relays as a high school athletes from Maryland, added: “It’s an awesome feeling being out here, with family and friends here to support me. My teammates from high school are here as well.
“I made sure I got out hard and watched LaKeidra coming in for the exchange. I knew I had to keep accelerating and put the baton in Dominique’s hand at the right time. Hearing the crowd increases the adrenaline rush, I was so excited being out here.”
Davis was an individual qualifier for a Championship of America final in the 110 hurdles. He finished third with a 13.75 clocking in his heat with a pair of NCAA Champions – Andrew Riley of Illinois (13.63) and LSU’s Barrett Nugent (13.67).
In qualifying races for the 4 x 200 relay the Aggie men posted the second fastest time with a 1:23.11. A&M ran with the foursome of Carlyle Roudette, Ameer Webb, Michael Bryan and Prezel Hardy, Jr.
UTech of Jamaica had the top time of 1:22.61. The other six squads advancing to Saturday’s final include Hampton (1:23.88), South Carolina (1:24.08), Oklahoma (1:24.66), Indiana (1:24.73), Savannah State (1:24.75) and North Carolina A&T (1:24.80).
After winning the 4 x 100 title, three legs of the Aggie sprint relay returned to the track for 4 x 200 qualifying. Chandrell Stephens led off the relay that led qualifying with a 1:32.84 and included Ekponé, Collier and Duncan.
LSU had the next best time of 1:33.11 and were followed by Oregon (1:34.27), Illinois (1:34.62), Clemson (1:35.20), Pittsburgh (1:35.28), Hampton (1:36.12) and Kentucky (1:36.37).
The Aggie women take a four-year winning streak into the 4 x 200 finals. Duncan has run on two of those championship teams in 2009 and 2011. Texas A&M set the collegiate record of 1:29.42 in claiming the 2010 Penn Relays victory.
In 4 x 100 men’s qualifying the A&M crew of Ricky Babineaux, Roudette, Bryan and Hardy, Jr. finished second in its heat with a 40.31 to Illinois (39.94). LSU, who did not get the baton exchanged on the first to second leg, was offered a re-run with a couple other schools and recorded the fastest time of 39.72.
Illinois had the second fastest time with Auburn third overall at 40.15. Other teams advancing to the Saturday final includes G.C. Foster (40.30), Hampton (40.31), Texas Tech (40.40) and UTech (40.46).
Later in the evening the Aggie men posted the top qualifying time in the in the 4 x 400 with a 3:07.77 from the foursome of Babineaux (47.8), Joey Roberts (47.0), Michael Preble (47.0) and Deon Lendore (45.9).
Texas A&M will be the top seed in the final relay of the meet on Saturday. The Aggies are also the defending champions in this event, having won last year’s title in 3:01.73.
“This environment is not new to me since I ran here in high school a couple of times,” Lendore said. “It was a bit extra cold this evening, but we ran the best time for the final.”
Oregon finished second to A&M in the opening heat with a 3:09.33 while Pittsburgh was third in 3:10.73. LSU claimed the second heat in 3:08.09, second fastest, over Texas Tech (3:10.06) and North Carolina (3:10.88). Penn State won the third heat in 3:08.60 ahead of Mississippi State (3:10.41) and St. Augustine’s (3:10.98).
In the college division high jump Cameron Alexander tied for fifth place while Tyler Lee tied for 11th as both cleared 6-6.75 (2.00). In the women’s high jump Jena Hemann tied for seventh place as she cleared 5-9.25 (1.76). Jonathan Turner placed 11th in the college long jump (22-8.5).
The Aggie men’s distance medley relay placed 11th in 9:48.91 with the crew of James Bonn (3:03.0), Ashton Young (48.3), Oscar Ramirez (1:51.5) and Henry Lelei (4:06.1).
Texas A&M placed third in their heat of the women’s sprint medley relay, posting a time of 4:02.79 with the foursome of Stewart, Stephens, Kanika Beckles and Tiffany Singleton. Eastern Michigan (3:58.66) and Indiana (4:02.01) finished ahead of the Aggies, who were 18th overall amid a field of 41 teams.
In qualifying races for the women’s 100 Stewart ran a windy 11.76 for fifth in her heat and 12th overall. Donique’ Flemings had a slow start in the 100 hurdles and placed seventh in her heat with a 14.19.
118th Penn Relay Carnival – Texas A&M Results
Women’s 4 x 100 – Championship of America final
1. Texas A&M, 43.87; 2. LSU, 44.01; 3. UCF, 44.26; 4. Ohio State, 44.70; 5. Auburn, 44.86; 6. Tennessee, 44.98; 7. Texas Tech, 45.03; 8. Houston, 45.09.
Men’s Distance Medley Relay – Championship of America final
1. Princeton, 9:42.45; 2. Indiana, 9:42.68; 3. Binghampton, 9:43.08; 4. Oregon, 9:43.11; 5. Columbia, 9:43.21; … 11. Texas A&M 9:48.91.
Men’s 4 x 100 – Qualifying
(Field of 88 teams, top 8 advance to Championship of America on Saturday)
Top 8 times: LSU 39.72; Illinois 39.94; Auburn 40.15; G.C. Foster 40.30; Hampton 40.31; Texas A&M 40.31; Texas Tech 40.40; UTech 40.46.
Men’s 4 x 200 - Qualifying
(Field of 50 teams, top 8 advance to Championship of America on Saturday)
Top 8 times: UTech 1:22.61; Texas A&M 1:23.11; Hampton 1:23.88; South Carolina 1:24.08; Oklahoma 1:24.66; Indiana 1:24.73; Savannah State 1:24.75; North Carolina A&T 1:24.80.
Women’s 4 x 200 – Qualifying
(Field of 53 teams, top 8 advance to Championship of America on Saturday)
Top 8 times: Texas A&M 1:32.84; LSU 1:33.11; Oregon 1:34.27; Illinois 1:34.62; Clemson 1:35.20; Pittsburgh 1:35.28; Hampton 1:36.12; Kentucky 1:36.37.
Men’s 4 x 400 – Qualifying
(Field of 66 teams, top 8 advance to Championship of America on Saturday)
Top 8 times: Texas A&M 3:07.77; LSU 3:08.09; Penn State 3:08.60; Oregon 3:09.33; Oregon 3:09.33; Texas Tech 3:10.06; Pittsburgh 3:10.73; North Carolina 3:10.88.
Men’s 110 Hurdles – Qualifying
(Field of 28 athletes - top 2, plus next three fastest times advance to Championship of America on Saturday)
Finalists: Andrew Riley, Illinois, 13.63; Barrett Nugent, LSU, 13.67; Wayne Davis II, Texas A&M, 13.75; Keith Nkrumah, Norfolk State, 13.77; Jarret Eaton, Sryacuse, 13.87; Devon Hill, Miami, 13.87; Hansle Parchment, West Indies, 13.94; Tre’ Lathan, Oklahoma, 13.96; Aramis Massenburg, Norfolk State, 13.98.