Aggies’ NCAA Reign Ends; Both track teams finish thirdFeatured Stories, Sports Saturday, June 9th, 2012
Texas A&M finished strong with a pair of third place team finishes to wrap up the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in front of a crowd that numbered 6,436 on Saturday at Drake Stadium.
After winning a set of NCAA team men’s and women’s team national titles over the past three years, the Aggie teams each placed third this season as they scored in 10 of the 12 track finals held on the final day.
The A&M men scored 40 points, 30 of which were scored on the final day, to finish behind Florida (50) and LSU (48). The Aggies finished ahead of Florida State (38), Virginia Tech (33), Auburn (30), Arizona (27), Arkansas (26), Texas & Oregon (22).
“We were in it right down to the end on the men’s side,” stated Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “Actually yesterday I thought if we were able to hit everything really good on the final day, then we had a shot to win.
“But Florida was thinking the same way and so was LSU. Ten points separated three teams and it was a great meet for us.”
The Aggie women totaled 38 points, getting 28 on the final day, behind LSU (76) and Oregon (62). A&M placed ahead of Clemson & Kansas (28), Stanford (25), Oklahoma (24), Washington (23), San Diego State & Tennessee (21), and Texas (20).
“On the ladies side we bounced back pretty well today,” noted Henry. “Natosha Rogers has got to be the athlete of the meet for us. LSU really hit it well on the ladies side and did a really, really good job. Oregon did a great job too.
“We’re happy, but we’re never pleased to get beat. We don’t want to get beat ever. This group stepped up and did everything they could do to be successful.”
Top performances for A&M on a sunny, yet windy final day included a trio of silver medal efforts. The women’s 4 x 100 relay recorded the fastest runner-up time ever in the history of the NCAA Championships with a 42.82. Wayne Davis II in the 110-meter hurdles and Ameer Webb in the 200 meters both battled against big headwinds in claiming silver in their respective races.
The Aggies also had a pair of bronze medal performances in the women’s 200 and 4 x 400 relay.
Dominique Duncan wrapped up a stellar collegiate career as she picked up her seventh and eighth All-American honors as a member of the 4 x 100 relay and finished third in the 200, just 0.03 from silver.
Duncan was a member of all three national championship teams as well as two NCAA champion teams in the 4 x 100 and a pair of NCAA silver medal efforts in the sprint relay.
“In the 4 x 100 we could have done a little better with a couple of handoffs,” said Duncan. “The fact that Ashley Collier was able to close on Kimberlyn Duncan showed we had a chance to win the relay.
“Not winning another team title hurts a bit, but my teammates did the best they could and that’s all I could ask for.”
The other bronze medal performance came from the Aggie women in the 4 x 400 following a disqualification of Kansas.
In the women’s 4 x 100 the Aggies were runner-up for a second consecutive year behind LSU. It was a close race throughout as A&M ran with a quartet of LaKeidra Stewart, Olivia Ekponé, Dominique Duncan and Ashley Collier.
LSU won in 42.75 seconds while the Aggies recorded a season best of 42.82 for second place, posting the fastest time in NCAA history for a runner-up finish. The previous mark was 42.83 set by South Carolina in 2003.
“I just wanted to make sure I popped it off for the team and set it up from there,” said Stewart. “I’ve watched nationals on TV three years in a row, so to finally be here to run on the 4 x 100 and help the team out is amazing. To have the fastest second place time is really humbling.”
Clemson placed third in 43.52 with Oregon fourth in 43.58. The rest of the field included Ohio State (43.88), Houston (44.11), USC (44.24) and Texas Tech 44.76.
“Our hand-offs were a little iffy, but I’m just happy we got the stick around,” noted Collier. “Even though we didn’t win we were second with a great time, which was our fastest all year.”
Texas A&M men finished fourth in the 4 x 100 with a time of 39.08 seconds running the foursome of Ricky Babinueax, Ameer Webb, Michael Bryan and Prezel Hardy, Jr.
LSU claimed the sprint relay title in 38.38, matching the stadium record established by the Aggies last year. Florida State finished second in 38.57 with Auburn third at 38.69. Behind A&M were Baylor (39.37), Arkansas (39.73) and Tennessee (40.21). Illinois did not finish.
Webb, the NCAA Indoor 200 champion, challenged the defending NCAA Outdoor champ in Florida State’s Maurice Mitchell as they faced a 4.2 headwind in the 200. Mitchell won the race in 20.40 with Webb taking second in 20.65 while another Florida State sprinter, Horatio Williams – formerly of LSU, placed third in 20.78.
“I’m very pleased with my performance,” stated Webb. “We really needed points so I was glad I was able to contribute. With more experience under my belt, I know exactly what I’m going to do next year.
“I kind of like having a day like this with the 4 x 100 leading off to warm me up for the 200. It also allows me to get rid of the nervousness and butterflies in my stomach. It was a nice warm-up so I was able to come out hard as I could in the 200.”
Joining Duncan in the women’s 200 final was Ashley Collier. They faced a headwind of 2.3 as defending champ Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU led the field to a 22.86 victory. Auburn’s Kai Selvon and A&M’s Duncan were both credited with a 23.19, with the tie being broken, 23.184 to 23.187, to separate them for silver and bronze.
Collier clocked 23.54 for seventh place ahead of Big 12 champion Paris Daniels of Kansas, who finished in 23.73.
“Talking to my coaches I knew I had to push out strong being in lane two,” said Duncan. “So my main focus was to end it with a bang and push out as hard as I could.”
A tough finish for Henry Lelei in the 3,000-meter steeplechase had him placing fourth in 8:42.07. Lelei appeared to have second place locked up behind winner Donn Cabral of Princeton (8:35.44), but tripped on the final barrier.
Michigan’s Craig Forys and Ohio State’s Cory Leslie were able to pass Lelei for second (8:40.66) and third (8:40.98) place.
A headwind of 3.5 greeted the 110 hurdle field as Andrew Riley of Illinois made history with his 13.53 victory. On Friday evening Riley won the 100 meters and became the first male athlete to complete that double in NCAA history.
Davis improved upon his sixth place finish from a year ago with a solid race that produced a 13.60 second place time over Clemson’s Spencer Adams (13.73) and defending champion Barrett Nugent of LSU (13.80).
“I’m just upset about the wind today,” said Davis. “Regardless of the medal I really wanted the times to show how good we are. I’m happy about the silver, because it’s a big improvement from last year.
“Running a windy 13.26 in the semifinals showed a lot of people my capabilities. It’s a totally different race when the wind is switched around, so I couldn’t quite do what I did last time.”
The women’s 100-meter hurdle field encountered a 3.1 headwind as 2011 NCAA runner-up Christina Manning of Ohio State won the race in 12.89 over a pair of Clemson hurdlers, Brianna Rollins (12.91) and Bridgette Owens (13.10).
Donique’ Flemings ran 13.24 for sixth place behind Jasmin Stowers of LSU (13.20) and ahead of West Virginia’s Chelsea Carrier-Eades (13.31).
Fresh off her victory in the 10,000 meters on Thursday, Natosha Rogers was an early leader in the 5,000 meters in the midday heat of Saturday. Rogers led at the first 1,000-meter split in 3:34.93 and was in second place after splits of 3:20.6 and 3:09.6 at 2k and 3k (10:05.26).
Rogers reclaimed the lead over the lead pack of nine on the next lap after the 3k split and held it through the 4,200 meters. Then the pack began to separate as Rogers found herself in eighth place with one lap remaining.
Over the final 400 meters Rogers managed to pass a couple of runners to finish sixth in 16:20.04. Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino won the race in 16:11.34 with a lean over Washington’s Megan Goethals (16:11.37).
The 4 x 400 relays wrapped up the day and the A&M men placed fifth with a season best of 3:01.68. The foursome included Carlyle Roudette (46.8), Joey Roberts (44.8), Michael Preble (45.59) and Deon Lendore (44.54).
Florida won the race in 3:00.02, fifth fastest ever collegiately, to secure their first NCAA Outdoor team title over USC (3:00.64) and LSU (3:01.21).
In the women’s 4 x 400 Oregon won the relay for the second time in three years, but finished second in the team scoring for the fourth straight year. The Ducks ran the second fastest time in collegiate history to win with a meet record of 3:24.54 over LSU’s 3:24.59, which is the third fastest collegiate time ever.
The A&M women were initially fourth with a season best time of 3:28.58, but Kansas was disqualified for cutting in too soon on the second leg. So the Aggies were bumped up to third place with the foursome of Ibukun Mayungbe (51.5), Kanika Beckles (52.0), Kamaria Brown (52.93) and Olivia Ekponé (52.19).
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