Henry Lelei breaks A&M record, Aggies sweep Invitational team titles
COLLEGE STATION - Aggie senior Henry Lelei lowered his own school record in winning the 3,000 meters at Saturday's Texas A&M Invitational before a crowd of 1,878 fans inside Gilliam Stadium and eclipsed the meet record as well with a time of 7 minutes, 55.80 seconds.
Amid 17 victories during the meet the nationally ranked Aggies swept the team titles in their final home meet of the season. Up next for Texas A&M is the SEC Indoor Championships, held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, from Feb. 22-24.
The No. 3 A&M men scored 207.5 points to top the field of Texas State (83), TCU (62), UTEP (58), Houston (47), Rice (43.5) and Cal State Northridge (34). The No. 6 Aggie women rang up 198 points for a victory over TCU (93.5), Texas State (93.5), Rice (42.5), Cal State Northridge (42), UTEP (38.5) and Houston (33).
Lelei improved upon his school record of 8:01.01 as well as the meet record of 8:08.17 set by Barnabus Kirui of Mississippi in 2010. Runner-up to Lelei was teammate Stephen Curry in 8:20.99 while Isaac Spencer placed fourth in 8:23.02. Lelei is currently fifth on the 2013 collegiate list with the top time in the SEC.
Other A&M teammates - C.J. Brown, Colin Slattery and MacLean O'Donnell - helped establish an early pace for Lelei, who had splits of 2:41.14 (1000) and 5:16.98 (2000) on the way to his record performance. Earlier in the meet Brown posted a 4:08.70 for third in the mile.
"My plan was to run somewhere near 7:55 to be among the top 16 on the NCAA Indoor list," noted Lelei. "I don't know what to say about the effort from my teammates. I had three guys in Colin, CJ and MacLean doing their jobs well early in the race. When they stepped off the track, it was down to me to do the rest. I didn't want to let them down, so I had to push it hard the rest of the way.
"I tried to stay relaxed over the last couple of laps as the crowd got louder. It's not easy to run by yourself, but what was running through my mind was these three guys have done their work so I need to do my best. Normally it's better to have two or three guys in the race pushing the pace all the way through."
Texas A&M's LaQue Moen-Davis moved to No. 3 on the Aggie all-time list in the triple jump as she took over the SEC lead with a 43-7.25 (13.29) effort. Moen-Davis, currently ranked third on the collegiate list and first in the SEC, also ran 8.53 for fifth place in the 60 hurdles.
Moen-Davis led an A&M first through fifth finish in the triple jump. Jennifer Madu, who later won the 60 meters in 7.41, hit a mark of 41-0.5 for second place. Melissa Mays placed third with a 40-2.25 while Haley Gooch registered a 40-0.5 for fourth. Jordan Wilson came within half of inch of reaching 40 feet as her 39-11.5 claimed fifth place.
"Getting better was my main goal today," said Moen-Davis. "There were a couple of things I needed to work on. The main point today was to fix one thing at a time. Getting on the board really helped a lot, because that rarely happens for me. Now we can move on to the next thing I need to do to get better. It's exciting being out here and contributing to the team."
Also climbing to new heights on the Aggie all-time list is Chase Wolfle, who won the pole vault with a career best clearance of 17-5 (5.31). Wolfle, who is now No. 6 on the A&M all-time list, defeated Rice's Chris Pillow (17-1). Dustin Phillips placed fifth in picking up points for the Aggies with a clearance of 16-9.25 (5.11).
"This whole week I've been working off the top of the pole and it's finally starting to play into better performances," noted Wolfle. "After hours of doing the same little drills over and over, now it's rolling over onto the runway. With track and field you're never perfect on anything. You can always get better and improve. I'm excited since it was a PR, but I know I can improve more."
Hector Hernandez won another 800m race and led a 1-2-3 sweep by A&M. Hernandez ran 1:50.54, No. 7 all-time, with James Bonn (1:51.33) and Josh Hernandez (1:52.49) finishing second and third.
In the women's 200 a first through fifth sweep was led by Kamaria Brown, who was second to Madu in the 60 with a 7.43. In the 200 Brown earned a 23.57 win over Ashley Collier's 23.73. They were followed by Kanika Beckles (23.79), Madu (23.96) and Olivia Ekpone (24.01).
Ameer Webb claimed the men's 200 in 21.00 as career best times were clocked by Michael Bryan (21.06) in second place and Jermaine Davis (21.36) in fifth place. An even closer finish in the 60 meters had the Aggies placing 2-3-4 with Webb (6.72) getting the decision over Bryan (6.72) behind a winning 6.71 from TCU's Charles Silmon while Davis placed fourth in 6.81.
Field event victory sweeps were turned in by Brea Garrett (61-2) and Casey Strong (63-4.75) in the weight throw along with Devion Harris (6-7.5) and Jena Hemann (5-8.5) in the high jump. This marked the sixth consecutive victory for Strong in the weight throw this indoor season.
The Aggies also won a pair of 400 titles with Bralon Taplin and Janeil Bellille. Taplin clocked 46.85 ahead of a career best of 47.17 by Carlyle Roudette. Bellille ran 54.65 for the women's 400 win.
To close out the meet A&M won both 4 x 400 relays. The women ran 3:36.82 to defeat Houston (3:41.74) and Texas State (3:44.41) with a foursome of Bellille (54.3), Ibukun Mayungbe (53.2), Ekpone (54.5) and Beckles (54.8).
The men ran 3:07.77 to pull away from TCU (3:11.21) and Houston (3:15.73) in their section. The Aggie men ran with Ricky Babineaux (47.9), Bralon Taplin (46.9), Deon Lendore (45.9) and Carlyle Roudette (47.1).
Other victories were recorded by Wayne Davis II (7.86) in the 60 hurdles and Aliese Hyde (2:10.82) in the 800 with Ashley Chamberlain supplying a career best 2:14.78 for fourth place. Runner-up efforts for A&M included Donique' Flemings (8.32) in the 60 hurdles, Dave Brown (50-5.25) in the triple jump and Chelsea Utley (5-7) in the high jump.
Personal best times were set by Hillary Montgomery (4:58.71) and Grace Fletcher (5:03.89) as they finished third and fourth in the women's mile. In the 3,000 the A&M tandem of Gabby Salazar (9:54.44) and Tara Upshaw (9:58.48) had a third and fifth place finish.