Texas A&M’s Gittens, Driscoll and Casarez earns wins on day one of the Charlie Thomas Invitational

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M track & field’s Tyra Gittens, Ashley Driscoll and Eric Casarez posted victories and 13 personal bests were set on day one of the Charlie Thomas Invitational, Friday at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium. The Aggie men and women claimed pole position after the first day of competition.

“This is a good way to start this meet, it’s the first multi of the year and the score Tyra [Gittens] had at 1476 is a big score for her right now,” said head coach Pat Henry. “Tyra is a competitor, the better the competition, the better she does. Virginia Preiss had a nice meet this evening too. We are just learning about Virginia, we don’t know an awful lot about her, but we do know Tyra and she looked really good tonight. She did the things we thought she was capable of doing and a little bit better this early. Allyson Andress, not bad for her first multi-event indoors, she did fine.”

Gittens led nearly wire-to-wire in the pentathlon as she racked up 4,276 points, besting her previous career-best of 4,197 points at the NCAA Indoor Championship, moving into second on the NCAA list for this season and second on the A&M all-time performers list. Gittens bettered the field by 471 points as teammate, Virginia Preiss, earned runner-up honors and became the eighth-best performer in A&M history. Preiss collected a personal best of 5’5.75” in the high jump. A&M’s Allyson Andress finished eighth in the pentathlon; the freshman posted collegiate bests in the 60m hurdles (9.21) and high jump (5’8”).

“Ashley Driscoll had a huge personal-best and looked good doing it,” Henry said. “She just gets a little better every time she gets on the track. Kelsie Warren hung tough, just that Ashley just beat her in the last 1200m or so. It was a good race for both of them, that’s faster than Kelsie has ran outdoors, so that is a good sign.”

The A&M women’s distance group saw a quintet of runners post personal bests in the 5000m as senior Ashley Driscoll claimed the title in 16:17.95 to move to fifth on A&M’s performers list and 17th fasted in the NCAA this season. Kelsie Warren, a senior from College Station, claimed second place in 16:29.39 as Abbey Santoro, Julia Black and Grace Plain bested their previous collegiate bests.

“On the men’s side, Eric Casarez looked really good at 14:12 and looked strong doing it at a 5000,” Henry added. “Jon Bishop ran well, just lost a little bit there at the end but still ran 14:21, which is a really good run.”

The Maroon & White trio of Eric Casarez, Jon Bishop and Jackson Jett claimed the top-three spots on the podium in the 5000m. Casarez took home the win in a personal-best 14:12.64 as the freshman posted the fifth fastest time in school history. Jon Bishop placed second and bested his previous personal-best with a time of 14:21.69 to become the seventh best performer at A&M, while Jett (15:05.35) placed third in his debut.

A&M freshman Brittan Burns stands in seventh in his collegiate debut of the heptathlon. The Lakeville, Minn. native posted collegiate bests in all four events Friday as he looks to move up the leaderboard in tomorrow’s final three disciplines.

The A&M men’s distance medley relay cross the finish line in second place (9:57.75) trailing Georgia Tech by just over three seconds. Wes McPhail traversed 1200m in 3:02.04 as he handed off to Tyler Hart who blazed a 46.42 over 400m. Robert Woodworth trekked 800m in 1:55.34 as he handed off to Gavin Hoffpauir who anchored the 1600m segment in 4:13.97.

The A&M women claimed fourth (11:56.22) in the distance medley relay. Rachel Bernardo started things off in the 1200m portion with a time of 3:35.31, before handing off to Margaret Hoffman who ran a 56.98 over 400m. Emily McCollum travelled 800m in 2:15.76 as she handed off to the anchor Laura Fairchild, who ran 5:08.19 over 1600m.

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