Aggies sweep team titles in Ted Nelson Invitational

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COLLEGE STATION – A sweep of team titles by Texas A&M in the Ted Nelson Invitational, in front of 2,044 fans, featured a winning pole vault of 18 feet, 3.75 inches by Jacob Wooten as well as a winning mile of 4:51.57 by Hannah Campbell.

The Aggie men accumulated 164 points to finish well ahead of Baylor (83), UT Arlington (81), UTSA (75) and Texas (68). The A&M women scored 140.5 points to better a field that included Texas (113.5), Baylor (86), Texas State (76.5) and Stephen F. Austin (71.5).

Including the men’s distance medley relay on Friday, the Aggies totaled 10 event wins in the meet with six runner-up performances and nine third-place efforts.

“Winning the meet is important and I like to see our team concerned about the team score,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “They’re happy to win.”

Wooten bettered the pole vault meet record of 17-10 ½ (5.45), set by SFA’s Keith Benford in 2013, with his winning height of 18-3 ¾ (5.58) and had three attempts at 18-5 ½ (5.63) in trying to top his school record of 18-4 ¾ (5.60) set last season. Wooten ended up with the No. 2 performance on the Aggie all-time list.

“Today was mostly about getting some qualifying marks out of the way and being consistent,” said Wooten. “My height today should qualify me for NCAA Indoor, since historically I don’t think it’s ever not made it into the national meet. Now I can focus on trying out some different techniques and experimenting a little more than I would have been able to if I was still chasing a qualifying mark.”

Challenging Wooten in the pole vault was Baylor freshman KC Lightfoot, who came in with a best of 18-3 ¾ set at altitude last season as a senior in high school. Lightfoot placed second with a mark of 18-1 ¾ (5.53). The collegiate leading height prior to Wooten’s performance was 18-1 ¼ (5.52) set on Friday by Deakin Volz of Virginia Tech.

“I was really excited to have KC jumping with me today,” noted Wooten. “I haven’t really had that much competition in a little while. He was clearing on first attempts right along with me until we reached 18-3. It was a good bit of excitement.”

Campbell returned to College Station just last Saturday after a fall semester of studying abroad in France and promptly set a career best with her 4:51.57 mile victory, becoming the No. 7 performer with the No. 10 performance on the A&M all-time list as she improved her previous best of 4:54.89 from last year.

“I’m really glad I had this kind of performance, because I can go throughout the season knowing I’m back to where I should be,” stated Campbell. “There’s no setbacks from being gone abroad. I’m just excited.”

After teammate Sammy Watson led the mile in the early stages through 800m, Campbell challenged the new leader in SFA’s Kelsey Ramirez. Churning out the fastest lap splits over the final 600m with splits of 37.19, 34.82 and 32.83, Campbell passed Ramirez (4:52.48) for the win. Aggie teammates Valarie Bradley (4:58.08) and Kelsie Warren (4:59.97) placed third and fifth, respectively.

“I followed Ramirez for a while since I knew she raced in the 5,000 the previous night as was pretty strong,” noted Campbell. “Towards the end of the race I knew if I showed her I was there then she may get disheartened or tired. My true goal today was to win. When I saw Sammy step off the track then I thought I might be able to win this thing.”

Competing for the first time in an Aggie uniform during the indoor season, Tahar Triki won the long jump at 25-1 ½ (7.65) and by having the better second leap in his series. O’Brien Wasome of Texas matched the effort by Triki. On secondary marks, Triki produced a 25-0 (7.62) compared to Wasome’s 24-1 ¾ (7.36).

The learning curve for Gabriel Oladipo in the men’s weight throw had a sharp uptake with his winning toss of 63-2 ¼ (19.26) to better his previous best of 56-8 ¾ (17.29). Oladipo moved to No. 3 performer on the Aggie all-time list. Teammate Josh Brown placed third with an improvement to 58-7 ¼ (17.87) and moved to No. 8 on the A&M all-time list.

The Aggies swept the 4x400 relays with the women clocking 3:36.37 to better Texas (3:38.36) and Baylor (3:40.90) while the men posted a 3:08.08 to finish ahead of Baylor (3:08.12) and Texas (3:13.33).

A line-up of Tierra Robinson-Jones (54.47), Syaira Richardson (53.56), Julia Madubuike (54.23) and Jarra Owens (54.01) won the women’s 4x400 relay. On the men’s side the foursome included Bryce Deadmon (46.71), Ilolo Izu (46.45), Richard Rose (47.44) and Devin Dixon (47.48).

Madubuike won the open 400 in 54.64 while Rose finished third in the men’s 400 with a 47.42. Brenessa Thompson sped away with the women’s 60 title in 7.47 with Amber Ivy third in 7.55. In the 200, Diamond Spaulding ran 23.68 as runner-up with Thompson third in 23.69.

Jace Comick finished as runner-up in the 60 (6.75) and third in the 200 (21.29). Tyler Guillory ran 8.03 for third in the 60m hurdles and Kennedy Smith placed third in the women’s 60m hurdles with a best of 8.59.

LaJarvia Brown claimed the triple jump with a mark of 42-9 (12.95). Alstian Walker cleared 6-9 ¾ (2.08) for victory in the high jump as teammates Mason Farley and Mason Corbin tied for second at 6-8 (2.03). CJ Stevenson turned in a 49-8 ¼ (15.14) triple jump as runner-up.

In the 800, Jean Jenkins ran 2:10.73 as runner-up in the women’s race while David Torkington posted a 1:54.17 for fourth in the men’s race. Jon Bishop (4:13.42) and Wes McPhail (4:14.43) placed third and fourth in the men’s mile while Raymond Gonzales ran 8:39.51 for fifth in the 3,000.

Ashton Hutcherson led the Aggies in the women’s 3,000 as she placed third in 9:59.51 while Abbey Santoro (10:19.75) and Julia Black (10:20.47) were sixth and seventh.