MANHATTAN, Kansas – Entering their last Big 12 Championship meet with national rankings of No. 2 for the men and No. 8 for the women, Texas A&M seeks to claim another set of team titles to go along with the pair they captured last spring in Norman and earlier this season when the Aggies hosted the Big 12 Indoor meet.
“I think this being the last Big 12 Championship for Texas A&M has more significance when this meet is over, more than it does now,” said Aggie head coach Pat Henry. “Right now it’s just about us trying to do the things we do. The goal this weekend, in order to win this kind of championship, is to have a whole lot of people do very well. Our team is ready.”
Kansas State serves as host of the Big 12 Outdoor meet at the R.V. Christian Track Complex in Manhattan, Kansas from Friday, May 11, to Sunday, May 13. The broadcast of the conference meet will be available on the Fox Sports Networks. In Texas the first viewing will air on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Houston on Friday, May 18, at noon with a repeat telecast on Saturday, May 19, at 4 p.m.
Of the five men’s Big 12 schools ranked in the top 25, Texas A&M is the highest ranked at No. 2. They are followed by No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 10 Texas, No. 20 Oklahoma and No. 23 Kansas.
The Aggie women are the fourth highest ranked team among eight women’s Big 12 schools in the top 25. Texas currently is No. 3, Kansas is No. 5, while Texas Tech in No. 6. Behind No. 8 Texas A&M are No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 20 Iowa State, No. 23 Baylor and No. 25 Kansas State.
“This league has continued to get better over the years,” noted Henry. “That is a testament to the schools in the Big 12. They all work hard and try to be successful.”
Action starts at 11 a.m. on Friday with the women’s javelin while the heptathlon and decathlon at noon. Other Friday finals will include the men’s javelin, men’s and women’s hammer, as well as the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters. The multi-events conclude on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m., along with finals in the long jump, shot put and women’s pole vault. Prelims in running events on Saturday start at 3 p.m.
Sunday’s finals in the field events begin at 1 p.m. while the track finals start at 3 p.m. Tickets are available through the Kansas State ticket office, 800-221-CATS or online at www.kstatesports.com. All-session tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youths and senior citizens. Live results will be available through www.deltatiming.com with updates also provided on twitter via @aggietrk.
The A&M women are five-time defending champions of the Big 12 Outdoor title and have claimed 10 of the past 11 team titles when including the indoor conference meets dating back to the 2007 season. Winning team scores for the Aggie women at the Big 12 Outdoor meet over the past five years include: 146 (2011), 157 (2010), 126.5 (2009), 157 (2008), and 140 (2007).
In winning their first conference outdoor meet since 2001 last season, the A&M men set a conference record for points with a tally of 175 to better the previous best of 172 set by Nebraska in 2004. The Aggies winning margin of 71.5 points also was a Big 12 best, topping the 65.5 the Cornhuskers won by in 2004.
“We always concentrate on our seniors being leaders at this kind of competition,” stated Henry. “I hope our seniors are ready to lead this team going into the Big 12 Championships. If the seniors perform at the level they are capable then this group has a very good chance of being successful this weekend.”
Over the 15-year span of the Big 12 Outdoor Championships the Aggies have won 70 individual titles, 35 each among the men and women, while the A&M women hold a slight edge with eight relay titles to seven for the Aggie men.
Returning champions for Texas A&M includes Sam Humphreys, two-time defending champion in the javelin, Michael Preble in the 800 as well as all four relay events. Meanwhile, Laura Asimakis is a former champion in the women’s javelin having won the 2009 title.
The Aggies had seven individual Big 12 champions during the indoor season in 2012. That group included Ashley Collier (60m), Kamaria Brown (200m) and Asimakis (pole vault) for the A&M women. For the Aggie men it included Prezel Hardy, Jr. (60m), Ameer Webb (200m), Deon Lendore (400m) and Preble (600y). Texas A&M also swept the men’s 4 x 400 and distance medley relays.
When the Aggies swept the four relay events at the 2011 Big 12 Outdoor Championships it marked the first time one school achieved that feat. Texas A&M recorded winning times of 42.90 and 3:31.28 for the women’s relays along with 39.04 and 3:02.38 for the men’s relays.
The Aggie women have won the 4 x 100 at the conference meet for five consecutive years, setting the Big 12 record of 42.88 in 2008. Meanwhile, the A&M men have claimed the 4 x 100 three of the past four years, setting the Big 12 record of 38.85 in 2008. In the 4 x 400 relay the Aggies have won the men’s and women’s titles the past two years.
This season in the 4 x 100 relay the A&M women have the second fastest collegiate time with a 43.21 that placed them second to LSU (42.99 CL) at the Texas Relays. During the Penn Relays, the Aggies secured a fourth consecutive title with a winning time of 43.87 over LSU (44.01) and Central Florida (44.26).
For the A&M men a season best of 38.84, which ranks third collegiately, in the sprint relay placed second to Auburn’s collegiate-leading 38.30 during the Texas Relays. The Aggies have won four meets this season and were the top collegiate team at the LSU Alumni Gold. During the Penn Relays a time of 39.66 placed A&M fourth.
In the men’s 4 x 400 the Aggies season best of 3:03.16, set in March at USC, has been among the top five collegiate marks this season and the Big 12 leader. Recently a 3:05.01 placed A&M third at the Penn Relays.
The Aggie women enjoyed a breakthrough performance in the 4 x 400 with a 3:33.52 victory at the Penn Relays over Oregon (3:34.08) and Texas Tech (3:35.37). They head into the Big 12 meet with the fourth best time behind Texas (3:29.79), Kansas (3:31.87) and Tech (3:32.36).
Humphreys bid for a third Big 12 javelin title would make him the first in conference history to win the event in three consecutive years. Scott Russell of Kansas was a three-time javelin winner over a five-year period, winning in 1998, 2000 and 2002. Humphreys has won Big 12 titles as a freshman (243-9 / 74.31) and sophomore (238-3 / 72.63). The meet record in the event is 251-5 (76.63) set by Scott Warren of Nebraska in 1999.
A throw of 256-6 (78.19) opened Humphreys season at Arizona State’s Baldy Castillo Invitational in mid March. It was the U.S. and collegiate leader until April 11 when a 266-9 (81.31) from defending NCAA champion Tim Glover of Illinois State surpassed Humphreys mark.
Preble has been the collegiate leader in the 800 since he posted a 1:46.43 school record to win the USC Trojan Invitational on March 23. An ankle injury during the 4 x 400 of that same meet has hampered Preble in recent races.
Indoors, Preble placed second in the NCAA 800 in March and was third a year ago. A&M’s depth in the event includes Joey Roberts (1:47.52), Oscar Ramirez (1:48.21) and James Bonn (1:49.26). That foursome teamed up to post a 7:15.99 winning time in the 4 x 800 at the Texas Relays, where they bettered a 27-year-old meet record, and placed third at the Penn Relays with a 7:21.59 effort.
Asimakis won the 2009 javelin title and this past indoor season claimed the Big 12 pole vault title after returning to action from an arm injury in 2010. She will contest both events at the Big 12 Outdoor. In the conference, Asimakis currently ranks third in javelin with a season best of 170-4 (51.93), and is fourth in the pole vault with a season best of 13-7.25 (4.15).
Sprinting quality and depth in various events has served the Aggies very well in recent championship seasons. That remains the case again this year with the talents of Hardy, Webb, Lendore, Michael Bryan, Ricky Babineaux, and Carlyle Roudette for the men along with the group of Brown, Collier, Dominique Duncan, Olivia Ekponé, Kanika Beckles, Ibukun Mayungbe, Chandrell Stephens and LaKeidra Stewart for the women.
Hardy finished third in both the Big 12 100 and 200 meters last season. During this year’s Big 12 Indoor meet Hardy and Webb shared high point honors. At last year’s conference outdoor meet Duncan placed fourth in the 100 and 200 with Collier finishing fifth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 as Mayungbe claimed third in the 400. Brown claimed the women’s high point honors during the indoor Big 12.
Donique’ Flemings gives the A&M women a double threat in the 100 and 400 hurdles. Flemings leads the conference in the 100 hurdles with a windy 12.88 and wind-legal 13.00. In the 400 hurdles Flemings ranks fifth with her career best time of 57.76.
Flemings rolled off five consecutive victories in the 100 hurdles before finishing second to LSU’s Jasmin Stowers in Baton Rouge. Flemings came into the season with a 13.33 PR from 2010 and has lowered her time to 13.27, 13.17 (twice) and 13.00. She also won the Texas Relays with a wind-aided 12.88.
Wayne Davis II, who returns from a fourth-place effort at last year’s conference meet, has a season best of 13.71 from the Penn Relays where he placed fourth in an elite field of hurdlers.
Giving the Aggie scoring potential in the distance races is Natosha Rogers, who has set 10 school records this season, six indoor and four outdoors. Rogers placed second in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters during the Big 12 Indoor meet and will contest the 10,000 for the first time this weekend while also running in the 5,000. Kevin Burnett, who placed sixth in the Big 12 5,000 last year, will contest the same 5k and 10k double for the Aggie men.
For the A&M men Henry Lelei offers potential big points in the 3,000 steeplechase and 5,000 meters. Lelei broke the Aggie school record in the steeplechase with an 8:45.80 victory at Oregon and came close to breaking the 5,000 school record held by Arturo Barrios (13:46.37) with a 13:50.03 winning effort at USC.
Joining Lelei in the steeplechase are Stephen Curry and Isaac Spencer. Curry scored in last year’s Big 12 meet with a fifth-place finish and has improved his time by 12 seconds this season over the PR he set at the conference meet a year ago. Recently he placed third at the Penn Relays with a career best time of 8:55.87. Spencer has set three consecutive career best times, topped off by a 9:02.20 that won the college division at the Penn Relays.
The heptathlon offers the Aggies some scoring potential with the trio of Jena Hemann, Annie Kunz and Chelsea Utley. Hemann scored 5,300 points for eighth place at the Texas Relays and recently improved her javelin 15 feet with a 151-11 toss at LSU. Kunz totaled 5,174 points for 12th place at the Texas Relays after scoring 3,316 points on the first day.
In addition to the seven events in the heptathlon, the A&M multi-event athletes will also contest individual events during the conference meet. Hemann is entered in the high jump, long jump and javelin. Kunz is also in the 100 hurdles and triple jump while Utley will high jump.
Last season in the conference javelin the Aggie women finished 2-3-6-8 for 18 points. Bonnie Richardson led the group with a career best of 163-1 for the runner-up position. Asimakis, who has a season best of 170-4, and Richardson will lead a group of six throwers this weekend that includes Hemann, Lauren Berg, Kelly Czumble, and Aly Daily.
Daily, who joins Asimakis in the unique javelin and pole vault double, placed sixth in the pole vault a year ago and finished third at Big 12 indoors this season.
Casey Strong, the A&M record holder in the hammer with a 198-9 mark, returns from a fourth place finish at Big 12s last season. Another returning scoring in the men’s javelin is Jon Gomez, who placed fifth.
Newcomers with the potential to score in the throwing events include Dalton Rowan in the men’s discus and Brea Garrett in the women’s shot put. Garrett is joined by Jennifer Edwards and Taylor Rosser, who were close to contributing points last season.
A young group will also be competing in the jump events for the Aggies. While Tyler Lee and Cameron Alexander return from fourth and sixth place finishes in the high jump, a trio of freshman will battle for points in the long jump and triple jump with Olabanji Asekun, Babatunde Amosu and Jonathan Turner.