LOS ANGELES, CA -- Texas A&M’s second week of action during the outdoor track and field season offers an impressive field of talented teams at the USC Trojan Invitational. Invited teams competing at Loker Stadium / Cromwell Field this Friday and Saturday include BYU, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Washington State and host USC.
A group of Aggie throwers will head to Arlington for the Bobby Lane Invitational hosted by UT-Arlington on Saturday. The A&M group will be competing in the men’s hammer and discus as well as the women’s javelin, shot put and discus.
“We’ve taken one step outdoors and this is our second step,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “It’s a very good and competitive meet, so it will bring the best out in people this weekend. It’ll be a fun competition to see what our people can get done.
“This will be a well-balanced meet and we will have some throwers competing in Arlington, which was a better scenario for them this weekend. The USC meet will test some people at certain things that we will try to do the following week in Austin when we compete at the Texas Relays. Every meet counts towards going up a ladder.”
Outdoor preseason national rankings, based upon returning athletes, have the A&M men at No. 6 and the Aggie women No. 7. The men’s top five includes Florida, Florida State, LSU, Texas Tech and Arkansas. In the women’s top five are Oregon, LSU, USC, Clemson and Arkansas.
At the USC Trojan Invitational, distance runners will be featured on Friday evening with a pair of distance races in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, starting at 8:30 p.m. (CT). On Saturday action begins at noon (CT) with field events as well as the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Running Friday evening in the men’s 5,000 is a trio of Aggies that includes Henry Lelei, Kevin Burnett and MacLean O’Donnell.
After earning All-America honors in cross country with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, Lelei set indoor school records in the mile (4:01.49) and 3,000 meters (8:01.01). He also earned All-America honors indoors as the anchor leg of the distance medley relay that placed seventh at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Lelei has run a best of 14:13.75 in the 5,000 meters, while the A&M record in the outdoor 5,000 is 13:46.37 set by Arturo Barrios in 1985. Burnett, who holds the indoor school record of 13:56.47, has a career outdoor best of 13:57.91 that he set at the 2011 NCAA West preliminary rounds in Eugene. MacLean O’Donnell set the collegiate leading mark in the 1,500 for the early outdoor season with his winning time of 3:46.49 at Arizona State last weekend.
Lelei will also run the 1,500 for the Aggies on Saturday where he will be joined by Will Barry and Colin Slattery. The A&M record in this event is 3:43.65 set by Tommy Bonn in 2002 at the Cardinal Invitational hosted by Stanford. The field will include USC’s Blake Shaw and Oregon’s Boru Guyota.
In the women’s 1500 the tandem of Natosha Rogers and Sophie Blake will represent the Aggies in a field that includes Oregon’s Anne Kesselring and Becca Friday, Washington’s Christine Babcock and USC’s Erica Capellino.
Rogers set six school records in her first six races this indoor season, ranging from the mile to the 5,000 and including an anchor leg on the distance medley relay. She placed seventh in the 5,000 to earn All-America honors in the NCAA Indoor Championships.
After opening up with a 2,000-meter steeplechase the Aggie trio of C.J. Brown, Stephen Curry and Isaac Spencer will move up to the normal distance of 3,000-meters as they face a field of five runners from BYU.
A featured race in the middle distance area will have A&M’s 2012 NCAA Indoor silver medalist Michael Preble and Aggie school record holder Joey Roberts in the 800 with Oregon’s Elijah Greer, the bronze medalist at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor meet.
In the sprints Ameer Webb, the NCAA Indoor 200m champion, returns to his native California where he was the 2011 California junior college double sprint champion in the 100 and 200 while competing for Cerritos College. Webb was born in Carson and went to high school in Tustin in the Southern California area.
Webb will run in the 200 at USC looking to improve on his career outdoor best of 20.67 seconds after he posted a 20.39 clocking in the NCAA Indoor semifinal before claiming the final in 20.57. Last week in Tempe, Arizona, Webb ran a windy 10.05 to win the 100 over teammate Prezel Hardy, Jr., who clocked a 10.15. With a wind reading of 4.9 on the race, neither time is allowed to qualify for the NCAA preliminary rounds.
In the hurdles Donique’ Flemings brings her recent career best time of 13.27 into the meet as she squares off against USC’s Dalilah Muhammad, who opened with a 13.52 at the Ben Brown Invitational last week. Flemings is also scheduled to run the 400 hurdles this weekend, where she will race again against Muhammad, who opened with a 58.89 in the longer hurdle race last weekend.
The men’s 110 hurdles will feature young international talent in A&M’s duo of Wayne Davis II and Kenneth Minkah along with Oregon’s Johnathan Cabral.
Davis, the world junior record holder at 13.08 over prep hurdles, set a career best of 13.54 during the semifinal of the NCAA Championships last season, where he placed sixth in the final. Cabral won a pair of California state titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles last season while Minkah claimed the Texas state title as a junior in the 110 hurdles.
In the 4 x 100 relays the Aggie women bring in the world leading time of 43.56 while the A&M men sport the U.S. leading time of 39.41. Meanwhile, in the 4 x 400 relays the Aggie men sport the outdoor world leading time of 3:05.14 while the A&M women have the second fastest collegiate time of 3:38.06.
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