AUSTIN – Another eight Texas A&M athletes advanced from the NCAA West preliminary rounds at Myers Stadium to the blue track of Drake Stadium in Des Moines with their performances in the quarterfinals of the sprint events on Friday along with the men’s steeplechase.
With five qualifiers from Thursday’s action the Aggie total is currently 13 athletes heading to the NCAA Championships. Saturday will wrap up action at the NCAA West preliminary with the men’s discus starting at 11 a.m. and the running events beginning at 6 p.m. with the 4 x 100 relays.
Henry Lelei won the final of the three heats in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with the fastest time of 8:48.99, leading the field of 16 by as much as 35 meters during the course of the race. Teammate Stephen Curry finished 12th in the same heat with a time of 9:17.64.
Opening the race with a pair of 74-second laps, Lelei went 72 on the third circuit to break away from the field. His lead increased by 5 to 10 meters on each lap. As Lelei eased back on the final lap his lead was trimmed quite a bit as the race was on for second and third place. Carl Stones of Tulsa finished second in 8:51.03 while Tomas Cotter of Wichita State placed third in 8:52.44.
Deon Lendore finished second in the men’s 400 with a 45.28 while Kanika Beckles was runner-up in her heat of the women’s 400 with a 52.38. Ibukun Mayungbe finished fifth in the same heat with Beckles and advanced on time with a 53.33, which was the last qualifying position.
“I’m a little disappointed because I haven’t been running like myself this season,” said Mayungbe. “To make it to the NCAAs for the first time in an individual event I’m excited. Now I’m ready to improve, because 53 isn’t going to hit anything there. I have another week to get ready and make it work when we get there.”
Lendore faced a challenge from the inside with Oregon’s Mike Berry, who posted the top time of 44.86, as well as the outside with USC’s Bryshon Nellum in third with a 45.51.
“Coming into today I was really trying to get a top spot to move on,” said Lendore, who had the second fastest qualifying time in the field of 27 runners. “It wasn’t about time today, but place was more important. It was a good race with great competition. I’m happy with the time and glad I made it to nationals.
“Having that kind of competition with the runners who were inside and outside of me in adjacent lanes really helped with this race. Knowing they are coming at me from the inside and trying to pull away from me on the outside, I just have to try to run my own race and not think too much about them.”
Beckles had control of her heat on the homestretch, but a late burst by Oregon’s Phyllis Francis won the heat in 52.36.
“I was happy with my lane and confident about my race,” noted Beckles. “I went out there and tried to be in the top three so I could advance to nationals. There were a few good runners in my race, so I knew I had to run well and finish strong.”
In the 100 a trio of Aggies advanced by placing second for automatic spots to the NCAA semifinals. The group included Prezel Hardy, Jr. (10.24), Dominique Duncan (11.28w) and Ashley Collier (11.22w). Michael Bryan, fourth in his heat, advanced to Des Moines on time with a windy 10.29.
“It was nerve-wracking waiting to see if I made it in,” stated Bryan. “My heart was beating fast, and I was praying to God. I’m just glad I made it in. Now I can help out even more by making it to nationals in an individual event. We have more opportunities to score and I’m so grateful.”
Hardy noted: “I knew I had my work cut out for me with today’s heat in the 100. I had a heat full of great competitors. I didn’t push out as well as I wanted to, but I didn’t let that distract me. I kept with it and remained patient through the rest of the race. That allowed me to move up into the second position.”
Duncan recalled the foot issue she had to deal with at this time last year. “It’s a blessing to be healthy this time. I’m glad I was able to qualify by place and not worry about the time.”
Collier added: “I’m just happy I was able to qualify for nationals. There are some things I still need to work on, but I’ll take care of that.”
Ameer Webb ran 100.43w and finished eighth in the same heat with Bryan. LaKeidra Stewart posted an 11.62w for seventh in her heat of the 100.
Just missing a berth to Des Moines by an inch in the triple jump was Babatunde Omosu, who finished 13th with a wind-aided best of 51-1.75 (15.59). The top 12 advanced to the NCAA Championship meet.
Texas A&M was unable to advance its two 800 meter runners as Oscar Ramirez placed sixth in the first heat with a 1:49.97. Then Michael Preble finished eighth in the second heat with a 1:51.51.
In the 400 hurdles Gregory Coleman clocked 51.79 for fifth in his heat to place 18th overall and he was the second fastest freshman in the field.
Texas A&M also enjoyed another successful day advancing 11 athletes from the opening round to the quarterfinals in the 100/110 hurdles and 200 meters. In the 200 alone the Aggies sent eight sprinters through the quarterfinals, four each for the men and women.
Donique’ Flemings led the 100 hurdle field with a time of 12.93w (3.5) as she won the sixth and final heat with ease over Brittany Hyter of Arkansas (13.30) and Demeeka Jones of Houston (13.33). Flemings was the only hurdler to post a sub 13-second time in moving on to the quarterfinals.
It was the fourth race this season Flemings has posted a windy sub 13-second hurdle time. Her top mark this year is 12.87 that won the Big 12 title followed by a 12.88 to capture the Texas Relays crown on this same track. In addition to today’s 12.93 Flemings also has a 12.99 from the Big 12 prelims.
Wayne Davis II and Kenneth Minkah both advanced to the quarterfinals of the 110 hurdles. Davis won his heat in a wind-aided 13.58 (4.6 wind) over Durell Busby of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (13.71) and Iowa’s Ethan Holmes (13.84).
Minkah ran 13.92w (3.0) to place third in the same heat with NCAA champion Andrew Riley of Illinois (13.56) and Trevor Brown of Colorado State (13.86).
With all the times in the hurdles wind-aided Davis posted the third best time behind Oregon’s Johnathan Cabral (13.48) and Riley. Minkah had the 15th best time.
After a disappointing performance in the 100 quarterfinals Ameer Webb blistered a wind-aided 20.20 to win his heat over a 20.84 by Justin Austin of Iowa. A couple of heats earlier Prezel Hardy, Jr. won his heat in a wind-legal 20.55 over a 20.78 from Stanley Azie of Illinois.
Qualifying on time for the A&M men were Carlyle Roudette (20.99) and Michael Bryan (21.10), who each placed fourth in their respective heats.
For the women heat victories were attained by Dominique Duncan (22.88w) and Ashley Collier (23.24w) while Chandrell Stephens (24.11w) and LaKeidra Stewart (23.93w) both moved on with time qualifiers after finishing fourth in their heats.
In field events Laura Asimakis cleared 12-10.25 (3.92) while Aly Daily made it over 12-4.5 (3.77) to tie for 20th and 36th, respectively, in the pole vault. Chelsea Utley placed 22nd in the high jump with a 5-9.25 (1.76) clearance while Jena Hemann tied for 23rd with a 5-7.25 (1.71) make. In the men’s hammer Casey Strong had three fouls.
Advancing to NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa
100: Prezel Hardy, Jr., 10.24; Michael Bryan, 10.29.
400: Deon Lendore, 45.28.
Steeplechase: Henry Lelei, 8:48.99.
Javelin: Sam Humphreys, 255-8 (77.94); Devin Bogert, 236-1 (71.97); Jon Gomez, 224-7 (68.45).
100: Ashley Collier, 11.22; Dominique Duncan, 11.28.
400: Kanika Beckles, 52.38; Ibukun Mayungbe, 53.33.
10,000: Natosha Rogers, 33:47.12.
Javelin: Laura Asimakis, 162-11 (49.67)