IRVING, TX – Texas A&M athletes Natosha Rogers and Prezel Hardy, Jr. each claimed top honors as Big 12 Performer of the Year following the pair of double victories each achieved at the conference championships this past weekend. Aggie head coach Pat Henry was selected as men’s Coach of the Year as the conference office announced the postseason honors based on voting by the Big 12 coaches.
Coverage of the Big 12 Outdoor Championships will air at noon this Friday, May 18, on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Houston. A replay will be shown Saturday, May 19, at 4 p.m.
Rogers, a junior from Littleton, Colorado (Dakota Ridge), made her debut in the 10,000 meters on the first day of the Big 12 meet and claimed victory by nine-plus seconds in 34:18.66. That time placed Rogers as the No. 4 performer with the No. 6 performance on the A&M all-time list.
On the third day of the conference meet Rogers cruised to a six-second win in the 5,000 meters with a time of 15:57.17, which broke the stadium record of 15:58.58 set in 2005 by Colorado’s Sara Slattery. It was the first conference win in each of those events by an Aggie since Melissa Gulli’s double in 2004.
“It felt awesome to win both events at such an important meet for the team,” noted Rogers. “I worked really hard this season to contribute to the team and I’m glad it paid off. I’m really trying to be grateful and take it all in. I really appreciate this honor by the conference coaches.”
Rogers placed eighth in the conference 5,000 a year ago, but was runner-up in the 3,000 and 5,000 at the 2012 Big 12 Indoor meet Texas A&M hosted in February. Rogers has also set 10 school records this season in events ranging from the 1,500 to the 5,000.
“I know I would have regretted if I didn’t do both,” Rogers said of the 5k and 10k double. “Having to watch a race I wasn’t racing in would have upset me. Now I plan to attack them both and see how well I do in the national meet.”
Hardy, Jr. enjoyed a double victory as he posted winning times of 10.03w and 20.33 in the 100 and 200 meters, both personal best marks for the sophomore sprinter from Killeen, Texas (Ellison). The 200 time for Hardy bettered the 2005 stadium record of 20.57 set by Texas Tech’s Tyree Gailes.
The previous season Hardy finished third in both races at the Big 12 meet and earned Outstanding Freshman of the Year honors.
“Being the top freshman a year ago and now the Performer of the Year is special,” Hardy said. “It just reminds me to maintain the obligation and duties I have for this team. I’m happy to have done so well this year. Earlier this season I was frustrated, and not where I wanted my times to be. Coach kept reminding me to have patience and trust the training.
“Now I can see that the patience and training is starting to click for me. To run times similar as great Aggie sprinters like Gerald Phiri and others before him lets me know I’m on the right track and can only go on from here.”
In addition to the individual races, Hardy anchored the Aggie 4 x 100 relay to a win with a time of 39.00 seconds to match the triple victory last performed by A&M’s Gerald Phiri in 2008 and 2009. The Aggie sprint relay squad broke the 2005 stadium record of 39.59 held by Nebraska.
The wind-aided 10.03 by Hardy equals the second fastest time ever run by an Aggie sprinter under any conditions. The top wind-assisted time of 9.98 was run by Curtis Dickey in 1978 (Austin) while Hardy matched the windy 10.03 recorded by Phiri at the 2008 Big 12 meet in Boulder, Colorado. In the 200, Hardy’s time of 20.33 is the seventh fastest on the A&M all-time list.
Henry earns a fourth consecutive men’s Coach of the Year honor in the Big 12 over the past two seasons as the Aggies swept the conference indoor and outdoor team titles for a second consecutive year.
The Aggies trailed Texas by 37 points after six finals from the first two days of competition in Manhattan, Kansas. A flurry of 127 points accumulated by Texas A&M amid the 15 finals on the final day helped make up the gap. Seven Aggie victories on the final day placed 70 points on the board as A&M ended up defeating the Longhorns by 19 points, 150 to 131, for the men’s Big 12 team championship.
“Coming into the second and third day Coach Henry tried to keep us updated on the score, but also told us not to worry about how many points others teams had,” noted Hardy. “He told us if we do our job we will come out on top at the end of the meet.
“That was a key to my success this weekend. I was feeling great. I went out and ran my race. To execute my race plan and produce those times was very pleasing. I wanted us to go out with a bang and send a message. I was very proud of all my teammates for contributing to the team championship in our last Big 12 meet.”
Since 2007 the Aggie track and field program has claimed 14 Big 12 championship team trophies – 10 for the women (five indoor, five outdoor) and four for the men (two indoor, two outdoor).
Rogers is the fifth A&M female athlete to earn Big 12 Outdoor Performer of the Year, joining Anjanette Kirkland (1997), Simone Facey (2007), Porscha Lucas (2008) and Jeneba Tarmoh (2011). The five accolades are the most female performer honors by a school in the conference.
Hardy becomes the second Aggie male athlete to earn Big 12 Outdoor Performer of the Year as he joins Bashir Ramzy, who claimed the honor in 2000 and 2001.
Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors were awarded to Michael Stigler of Kansas, who won the 400 hurdles in 49.45, and Missouri thrower Kearsten Peoples, who won the discus (178-5) and placed second in the shot put (57-11). Beverly Kearney of Texas was selected women’s Coach of the Year as the Longhorns won their first conference title since 2006.