PHILADELPHIA – A winning time of 43.87 seconds secured A&M’s victory in the women’s Championship of America 4 x 100 final on a 50-degree day in Franklin Field. The Aggie win marked the fourth consecutive title, matching the achievement only previously accomplished by LSU from 1995 to 1998.
The A&M foursome 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 victories. “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.”
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).
In 4 x 100 men’s qualifying the A&M crew of Roudette, Ricky Babineaux, 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 in Saturday’s final includes G.C. Foster (40.30), Hampton (40.31), Texas Tech (40.40) and UTech (40.46).
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).