WESTWOOD, Calif. – Two school records fueled a productive day of action for the Aggies as they swept the team titles in the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational hosted by UCLA at Drake Stadium on Saturday.
Texas A&M men totaled 217 points to finish ahead of Sacramento State (124), Cal Poly (117), UCLA (111) and San Francsico (16) while the Aggie women generated 247.5 points to defeat UCLA (133), Sacramento State (128), Cal Poly (89.5) and San Francisco (23).
A pair of school record performances highlighted Texas A&M’s day in the sun at UCLA with Alex Riba in the 1,500 and Jazmine Fray in the 800m. The Aggies closed out the meet by breaking a 32-year-old Drake Stadium record in the men’s 4x400 relay.
Riba broke the Aggie school record with a winning time of 3:43.06 to better the 3:43.65 set in 2002 by Tommy Bonn. Meanwhile, Fray broke the school record of 2:01.43 she set on the Drake track a year ago this weekend.
After claiming the indoor mile school record with the school’s first sub-four-minute mile at 3:59.12, Riba improved his previous best of 3:44.14 in the 1,500 to complete his set of school records. Riba splits in his school record victory had him at 43.1 (300m), 1:43.6 (700m), 2:44.1 (1,100m) while closing with a 59.0 final 400m.
Cameron Villareal finished third in the race at 3:45.67, just off his career best of 3:45.43 set in 2015, behind a 3:44.93 by San Francisco’s Jack Rowe.
“After the mile indoors, I was hoping the outdoor record would come eventually,” said Riba. “I knew I was capable breaking the record, it was just a matter of actually getting out there and doing it. Today was more about racing the competition. I was not concerned about time at all. I just ran and raced and that was the result. It’s a stepping stone to what I can do in the future.
“It was fantastic for Cameron, because he hasn’t been there in a while. So for him to be back and getting faster every week is perfect. Cameron is capable of sub 3:43 as well. The sooner he gets there the better it will be for the team.”
Fray covered the first 400m of her race in 60.6, and crossed the 600m mark in 1:30.1 as her lead grew over the field. The time of 2:01.18 is the current U.S. and collegiate leader for the 2018 outdoor season and Fray is currently 12th on the 2018 world outdoor list.
“I really just wanted to execute my race,” noted Fray. “Those were the points I was wanting to hit with my splits. I was excited because I hit very evenly and that’s what I’m always going for. No one wants to hit an uneven pace or an uneven 200m. The pacing was really good.”
Completing a 1-2-3 Aggie sweep in the event, Brittany Parker (2:06.12) and Jean Jenkins (2:08.26) both produced career best times as they moved to No. 5 and No. 9 performers on the Aggie all-time list.
“I love it when we all set PRs from working together,” added Fray. “One person’s vibe of doing really well rubs off on someone else. Then it makes the whole team do really well. It’s exciting to watch and see.”
The Aggie men posted a winning time of 3:02.43 to claim the 4x400 relay and bettered the stadium record of 3:02.74 set by TCU in 1986 during a triangular with Houston and UCLA. Texas A&M’s foursome included Mylik Kerley (45.5), Bryce Deadmon (45.5), Devin Dixon (45.7) and Ilolo Izu (45.7).
Runner-up to the Aggies were a second Texas A&M crew that posted a time of 3:08.75 with the line-up of Colby Zamzow, Richard Rose, Tyler Hart and Efrain Hernandez.
In the women’s 1,500m, freshman Sammy Watson clocked a career best of 4:21.45 to win the event and move to No. 3 on the Aggie all-time list with the No. 5 performance.
Watson shared the lead with Ana Cristina Narvaez as they split 2:20.2 at 800m and 3:32.0 at 1,200m. With 200m remaining, Watson pulled away and held a comfortable lead to the finish as Narvaez ran 4:22.06 in second place. Watson’s previous best at 1,500 was a 4:22.09 during 2016, her junior year in high school.
“I knew today would be good for my 800 ultimately,” said Watson. “Moving up in distance will really help me with the strength in getting through an 800. It was a giant learning experience with me taking the lead earlier in the race. It was nice to know how I can be competitive during a race more than sitting and kicking.
“I’m really proud of Jazmine, and I’m glad we don’t have to race each other as competition to do well in our individual events. So, it’s nice that we’re not always competing against each other every week to get good times and be great.”
Monster jumps were turned in by Will Williams in the long jump and Lajarvia Brown in the triple jump as each won their respective events.
After a second round 25-10 ¾ (7.89), Williams produced a 26-4 ½ (8.04), which is the U.S. and collegiate leading mark during the 2018 outdoor season among wind-legal marks and ranks ninth in the world. Williams added a 26-1 ½ (7.96) in the fourth round and then passed his final two attempts while handling lead-off duties in the 4x100 relay.
The mark by Williams, who broke the school indoor record in winning the NCAA title in March with a 26-10 ½ (8.19), is the No. 4 performer on the Aggie all-time outdoor list and equals the No. 7 performance. Runner-up to Williams was teammate Tahar Triki with a distance of 24-8 ½ (7.53).
“Today was a beautiful day and I felt great,” noted Williams. “I had a feeling something spectacular was going to happen today. It was a great day to jump and you don’t get too many days like this. So, it was a great day to compete.”
Brown used a fifth round leap of 44-6 ¾ (13.58), into a -1.1 wind, to move ahead of teammate Ciynamon Stevenson, who finished second at 42-9 ½ (13.04). Prior to that round Brown’s best was 42-0 ¾ (12.82) from round two, a mark she matched in round six.
Currently second among collegians and second on the U.S. list this outdoor season, Brown is also the No. 4 performer on the Texas A&M all-time list and equal to the No. 5 performance. Stevenson’s effort equals the No. 11 performance on the Aggie all-time list.
Victories by the Aggies in field events included Gabe Oladipo in the men’s shot put (54-10 ¼) and discus (180-2), Emily Gunderson in the women’s pole vault (13-5 ¼), Garrett Cragin in the high jump (7-0 ½), Tyra Gittens in the high jump (5-9 ¾) and long jump (20-3), Maddy Stulce in the javelin (168-3) and Audie Wyatt in the pole vault (18-0 ½).
Texas A&M produced a pair of 1-2 finishes in the 3,000m steeplechase races to start the action on the track. Ashton Hutcherson won the women’s title in 10:46.94, the No. 11 performance on the Aggie all-time list, as Rachel Bernardo set a career best time of 11:10.97, improving her mark as the No. 8 performer on the Aggie all-time list.
In the men’s race a pair of career best efforts were turned in by Zephyr Seagraves, the top collegian at 9:12.78, and Raymond Gonzales, runner-up in 9:14.56. The overall winner of the race was Atjong Tio Purwanto of Indonesia in 9:01.80.
In the 4x100 relays that followed the Texas A&M women ran a season best of 43.26 to defeat an USA all-star crew that finished second in 43.81 with UCLA third at 44.56. The Aggies ran with Amber Ivy, Diamond Spaulding, Brenessa Thompson and Julia Madubuike. The all-star squad included Aggie alum Aaliyah Brown, Allyson Felix, Destinee Brown and Kendall Baisden.
Madubuile later won the 400m in 52.72, the No. 10 performer on the Aggie all-time list, over a 53.48 by Glorilisha Carter and a 53.83 by Jarra Owens. Spaulding claimed the 200m in 22.92, also the No. 10 performer at Texas A&M, while Thompson won the 100m in 11.37 over Aggie alum Jeneba Tarmoh (11.45) with Ivy in third at 11.46.
In the men’s 4x100 the Aggie men were second overall and the top collegian squad with a 39.78 from a crew of Williams, Jace Comick, Seth Page and Deadmon. Comick later finished as the top collegian in the 100 at 10.45.
Jaevin Reed returned to action with a relay carry on the women’s 4x400 relay as the Aggies won in 3:38.78. The line-up started with Owens and Virginia Kerley with Reed on third leg, followed by Carter.
Aggies producing wins on the track included Gabrielle McDonald in the 100m hurdles (13.47), Tyler Guillory in the 110m hurdles (14.25), Richard Rose in the 400 (46.81), Devin Dixon in the 800m (1:47.00), Lauren Lawless in the 400m hurdles (59.64), and Tyler Hart in the 400m hurdles (51.36).