AUSTIN, TX -- Texas A&M defended its 4 x 800 title at the 85th Texas Relays in record fashion, breaking a 27-year-old meet record in the process with a winning time of 7:15.99 on Thursday evening at Myers Stadium. They eclipsed the mark of 7:16.21 set by Jackson State in 1985.
The Aggies achieved the accomplishment with a set of four runners who were all Texas preps. The crew included James Bonn (1:49.5) of Lockhart, Joey Roberts (1:47.2) of San Antonio Marshall, Oscar Ramirez (1:50.0) of CC Winn in Eagle Pass and Michael Preble (1:49.3) of Jersey Village in Houston.
“These guys are great, we practice every day together and know what each of us can do,” said Michael Preble, who set the A&M 800m record last weekend in Los Angeles with a 1:46.43 victory. “You know they are going to give you everything they can.
“We were just trying to win and break the record. We wanted to see what kind of time we could run after all of us ran so well in the 800 last week at USC. We wanted to put a good time on the track. We were able to get the record, so it was good.”
Bonn took the lead on the opening leg of the race by the first 200 meters and increased A&M’s advantage to 20 meters by the time he handed the baton to Roberts.
“I saw Baylor take it out and I thought I have to give my team every inch possible, so I took over the lead,” Bonn noted. “When I finished the first lap I knew I had to put more of a gap on everybody else.
“I knew my leg would be crucial. If I could get us the lead for my guys we were going to seal the victory.”
Each following leg for the Aggies added 10 more meters to the lead over the field of 16 teams. Baylor placed second in 7:22.99 while Kent State finished third in 7:26.36.
“There are so many combinations this team can put out,” said Roberts. “Just to have this opportunity, each week is an opportunity for us. I’m glad we finally got to run this event this season. We’ve all been excited for it since we all train together as well. Now we’ve made a statement and shown who is the top dog.”
Ramirez added: “This is the event we run, so when we can combine our talents for a relay it’s fun to see what we can do. Seeing how we’ve progressed this season and during our career at Texas A&M has been amazing. This event is made for us. It’s a blessing to be here with these guys.”
When the Aggies won this event in 2011, with a 7:19.57 clocking, it was the first time for an A&M squad to do so since 1945 at the Texas Relays. In breaking the 1985 meet record of 7:16.21 set by Jackson State the Aggies collected its fourth win in this event, with the first title being won in 1943.
A&M set the school record with their 2011 Texas Relays win, but then lowered it to 7:14.02 in placing third at the Penn Relays.
“That was the tough thing about this race,” stated Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “They ran hard last weekend in setting PRs in the race at USC. To be able to come back six days later after flying across the country is the most difficult thing.
“I’m surprised and very pleased with this effort today. That doesn’t happen very often. You don’t bounce back from PRs and everybody still runs pretty good the next week. I think that shows a lot of character in this group of young men.”
In the women’s 4 x 800 the Aggies placed seventh with a time of 9:01.80. They ran the foursome of Hillary Hagan (2:19.0), Tiffany Singleton (2:15.9), Jillian Anderson (2:12.8), and Aliese Hyde (2:14.1).
Lauren Berg finished second in the women’s B division of the javelin for the second consecutive year, throwing the spear a career best of 148-5 (45.24). Kent State’s Sara Oczypok won the event with a mark of 152-8 (46.53). Berg hit her mark in the sixth round.
Texas A&M has won the B division of the women’s javelin three of the past four years with the combination of Bonnie Richardson (2011) and Hillary Pustka (2008, 2010).
Casey Strong tossed the hammer 194-11 (59.42) to place sixth. For the A&M school record holder it was his fourth best effort all-time. Strong’s previous best this season was a 189-2 from the opening outdoor weekend two weeks ago. Last year Strong placed 16th at the Texas Relays with a mark of 180-3.
Jena Hemann totaled a score of 5,300 points in the heptathlon to place eighth in the field of 21 finishers. Annie Kunz tallied 5,174 points to finish 12th. Hemann is the No. 5 performer on the Aggie all-time list while Kunz joins the list at No. 8.
Starting the second day of the heptathlon with the long jump, Hemann produced a leap of 18-9 for 762 points to move from 13th place to 10th. A javelin toss of 136-5 added 698 points and bumped Hemann into sixth. Finishing the day with a time of 2:27.90 (719) in the 800 moved her down to eighth.
Kunz long jumped 17-8.75 for 671 points, but dropped from third to seventh in the standings. Then a mark of 88-7 in the javelin netted 420 points and moved Kunz to 10th overall. Wrapping up the seven events with a 2:24.19 (767) in the 800 placed Kunz 12th in the final standings.