AUSTIN – The 85th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, held this Wednesday through Saturday, offer another opportunity for Texas A&M to showcase its talents to large track and field crowd at the Mike A Myers Stadium.
During an unprecedented run of six national championships over the past three years, with the Aggies becoming the first program to win men’s and women’s NCAA Outdoor titles in three consecutive years, Texas A&M has also garnered three successive outstanding team honors at the Texas Relays.
Last year’s accomplishments included a total of 12 victories for A&M at the Texas Relays, including six wins in relay events. This season the Aggies are entered in a dozen relay events along with other individual events, including the men’s javelin where Sam Humphreys attempts to win a third consecutive Relays title.
Texas A&M became the first program in the history of the meet to win more than four relays in one year. The previous best of four relays victories by one school included the Aggies in 2010 along with LSU (1995 & 2004) and Texas (1988).
Action begins Wednesday with the heptathlon and decathlon. A pair of Aggies, Jena Hemann and Annie Kunz, make their debut in the seven-event heptathlon after scoring at the Big 12 Indoor meet in the five-event pentathlon.
Thursday’s action includes distance races along with the 4 x 800 relay and 400 hurdles (Gregory Coleman). Field events involving A&M includes the men’s hammer (Casey Strong) and the B divisions of the men’s (Jon Gomez) and women’s (Lauren Berg) javelin.
Distance events involving the Aggies include the 1,500 (Kevin Burnett – A, Jake Roberts - B), steeplechase (Dylan Williams), and 5,000 meters (Itzel Cetina, Hillary Montgomery, Isaac Spencer).
The Aggie men will seek to defend its 4 x 800 title after they won at the Texas Relays for the first time since 1945 last year. In the men’s 4 x 1500 on Friday evening A&M will battle to earn its first victory in the event since 1948.
This past weekend the Aggie foursome that will run in the men’s 4 x 800 had a stellar day at the USC Trojan Invitational, setting a trio of career best times as A&M finished 1-3-5-7 in the event.
Michael Preble, who was part of three winning relays at the Texas Relays a year ago, set the school record of 1:46.43 in winning the race and earned an Olympic Trials ‘A’ qualifier in the process. Joey Roberts, who held the outdoor school record with a 1:46.98, finished third in 1:47.52 while Oscar Ramirez clocked a 1:48.12 personal best and James Bonn produced his best time of 1:49.26.
Four runners under 1:49.50 on the same team is noteworthy. Add the fact that all four are products of the Texas high school system may make them unique. Preble attended Jersey Village in Houston, Roberts went to Marshall in San Antonio, Ramirez attended CC Winn in Eagle Pass while Bonn is from Lockhart.
The foursome wanted to make an attempt on the indoor 4 x 800 American record at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York City earlier this season. However, the need for an automatic NCAA qualifier in the distance medley relay took precedence for the team’s efforts that weekend.
So this week, at the Texas Relays, is the first chance for this foursome to team together to see what time they can produce in the 4 x 800. Last season the Aggies broke the school record twice. First they won the Texas Relays title in 7:19.57, just missing the meet record of 7:19.24, and then lowered the A&M record to 7:14.02 for third place at the Penn Relays.
Recent performances would indicate a possible time in the range of 7:11.0 for the Aggies that would place them among the top three times ever run by a collegiate team.
The collegiate record of 7:08.96 was set by Arizona State in 1984 on its home track in Tempe. Eight of the next nine performances on the collegiate list have all been set at the Penn Relays, with the lone exception being one mark from the Drake Relays. Texas A&M currently is the ninth fastest school ever with the 7:14.02 they recorded in 2011.
Friday and Saturday at the Texas Relays are both full days of activity starting early in the morning. In addition to the current Aggies competing there are a crew of post-collegiate athletes with ties to Texas A&M running on invitational relays.
The group of recent A&M athletes competing this weekend includes Richard Adu-Bobie (100), De’Lon Isom (110H), Porscha Lucas (100) and Andrea Sutherland (400H) in individual events.
Lucas and Gabby Mayo will team up with Muna Lee and LaShaunte’a Moore on a 4 x 100 relay called Sprint Station. In the 4 x 400 Jessica Beard pairs up with Francena McCorory, Tiffany Townsend and Alexandria Anderson on a squad called Sprinting Speed. Also running on a 4 x 100 relay are Adu-Bobie (Canada) and Tyrone Edgar (Speed United). Competing in a 4 x 400 is Tabarie Henry (Central Texas).
Live results of the Texas Relays are available at the following link: www.texassports.com/livestats/tex-relays/
Admission to the Texas Relays is free of charge on Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets for Friday and Saturday are available through the Longhorn ticket office at 800-982-2386 or visit Texasboxoffice.com. An all-session pass is available for $30 (reserved) and $20 (general admission). Single day tickets are priced at $15 (reserved lower east stadium) and $10 (general admission).