May 25, 2011

National Championships Central

EUGENE, Oregon - With a crew of 49 athletes qualified for the NCAA Championships, the first day of the NCAA West Preliminary rounds at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field will have Texas A&M involved in 13 events on Thursday's opening day.

Among those events involving Aggies are the javelin, long jump and shot put. On the track A&M will be represented in the 100, 400, 800, 400 hurdles and 10,000 meters.

The three-day meet serves as the qualifying rounds for the NCAA Championship weekend, held June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa. The top 12 in each event will advance from Hayward Field to Drake Stadium.

Results from the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds are available through Flash Results, Live Results. A webcast of the meet will be provided by Oregon at Live Webcast .

Updates on the Aggies will appear on twitter at Aggietrk with recaps available on http://www.aggieathletics.com.

After being greeted by a sun-splashed Tuesday on its arrival day, the Aggies enjoyed a pleasant afternoon practice. The remainder of the week, however, has a forecast of temperatures in the mid-50s with chances of rain each day.

Texas A&M men and women enter the NCAA Championship portion of the season both ranked No. 1 by USTFCCCA as the updated rankings this week reflect only the individuals who are entered in the NCAA East and NCAA West preliminary rounds.

The Aggie men won its second NCAA Outdoor Championship by a single point over Florida at Hayward Field a year ago while the Aggie women dominated with a tally of 72 points to outscore runner-up Oregon by 15 points.

Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry has guided a pair of schools to dual NCAA Outdoor team championships in consecutive years, first at LSU in 1989-90 and now with the Aggies in 2009-10. Another dual national title would have the A&M program in very rare company on the Division I level.

Among the updated USTFCCCA rankings are seven schools from the Big 12 in the men's top 25 and nine Big 12 women's teams. Following the Aggie men are 2. Florida; 3. Florida State; 4. LSU; 5. Texas Tech; 6. Southern California; 7. Arkansas; 8. Texas; 9. Arizona; 10. Nebraska; 11. Stanford; 12. Baylor; 13. Virginia Tech; 14. Oregon; and 15. Kansas.

Ranked behind the A&M women are 2. LSU; 3. Oregon; 4. Clemson; 5. Arizona; 6. Oklahoma; 7. Southern California; 8. Arkansas; 9. Baylor; 10. Arizona State; 11. Texas; 12. Auburn; 13. Nebraksa; 14. Washington State; and 15. Tennessee.

The women's javelin starts action in the NCAA West at 10 a.m. (PT). The Aggies have a crew of five throwers entered in the event, including a trio who has thrown over 160-feet this season and rank 11th, 14th and 15th heading into the meet.

In the throwing events there are three flights of 16 athletes. After the first round of three attempts for each flight, the top 16 marks will have another set of three attempts. Then the top 12 marks advance to the finals in Des Moines.

Emalie Humphreys leads the crew with a 167-11. Bonnie Richardson produced an impressive career best of 163-1 to place second at the Big 12. Laura Asimakis, who threw a PR of 173-0 two years ago, has returned from a 2010 arm injury and has a season best of 161-10.

Also in the javelin for A&M is Aly Daily (148-11) and Lauren Berg (142-2), who are seeded 29th and 43rd.

The first men's event for the Aggies is the long jump where the trio of 26-foot plus jumpers in Melvin Echard (26-6.5w), Julian Reid (26-2.25w) and Tyron Stewart (26-0.75) are seeded 5-7-8.

In the jumping events there are four flights of 12 athletes who each get three attempts. The top 16 marks advance for three more jumps, and then the top 12 marks advance to the finals at Drake University.

The A&M jumpers are in the same flight as three jumpers from Nebraska and a pair from Arkansas along with the defending NCAA Champion in Marquise Goodwin of Texas.

In the women's shot put, which following the same four-flight set-up as the jumps, the Aggies have a pair of entrants in Taylor Rosser (50-7.25) and Jennifer Edwards (49-11.75). Both have made a steady progression to surpass 50 feet this season and are seeded 28th and 34, respectively.

Sam Humphreys (251-9) and Jon Gomez (212-6) contest the men's javelin for A&M. Humphreys, who recently claimed his second Big 12 title and placed fifth at the NCAA final a year ago, is seeded No. 3 and will be the fourth thrower of the third flight. Gomez, seeded 31st, is the 12th thrower in flight two.

In the women's long jump the Aggies have Sasha-Kay Matthias (20-2.5w) and Lisa Steinkamp (19-10.75w), who are seeded 23rd and 30th.

While most track events have two rounds in Eugene, the longer distance races will have one race for advancement at Hayward Field.

Katherine Devlin will run in the 10,000 meters on the opening day of action. With a career best of 33:56.98, Devlin ranks 19th amid the West region. Last year in Austin Devlin placed 13th in the 10,000, missing the 12th and final advancing position by a scant five seconds.

The first round of the running events starts with the 400 hurdles, where Andrea Sutherland had a breakthrough performance as the Big 12 silver medalist with a career best time of 56.53, making her the No. 3 seed in the West.

Sutherland will occupy lane four of the opening heat of six as the top three from each heat plus the next six fastest times move on to the quarterfinals. Big 12 champion Ryann Krais of Kansas State (56.06) also drew lane four in heat four.

However, four other hurdlers with sub 58 seconds times drew lane one in the random placement of the other heats. That group includes Turquoise Thompson of UCLA (55.84), Kori Carter of Stanford (57.10), Baylor's Christina Holland (57.82) and Iowa State's Kianna Elahi (56.73).

First round races in the 100, 400 and 800 will showcase the abundance of talent Texas A&M has on display in those event areas as well as the scoring potential they hold in individual events as well as relays.

Jeneba Tarmoh, a NCAA bronze medalist in 2010, is the top seed with a windy 10.94 from her Texas Relays victory. Gerald Phiri, who placed third in the 2009 NCAA and fourth last year, has the top seed with a 10.06 from his meet-record performance at the Texas Relays.

After repeating her triple win at the conference meet, claiming victory in the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 relays, Tarmoh was named the Big 12 Performer of the Year. She was also the high point scorer for the second consecutive year with 20.5 points.

Joining Tarmoh in the 100-meter field are Aggies Dominique Duncan (11.05w), Ashley Collier (11.22w) and LaKeidra Stewart (11.61).

In the men's 100 with Phiri are Prezel Hardy, Jr. (10.13), Michael Bryan (10.53) and Tran Howell (10.47).

In the 400 the Aggies have the top two seeds in the men's field with Tabarie Henry (44.83) and NCAA Indoor champion Demetrius Pinder (44.87), who led a 1-2-4 finish at the Big 12 with Henry runner-up and Bryan Miller (45.49) in fourth.

Henry will occupy lane seven in the first heat of the 400 with Baylor's Zwede Hewitt in lane eight while USC's Jon Mance is in lane one. Miller starts in lane four in the fourth heat with Baylor's Macrus Boyd stationed in lane one. Pinder, in heat five, is also in lane four as TCU's Mychal Dungey runs in lane one and UTEP's Anderson Mutegi is in lane three.

On the women's side of the 400, Jessica Beard shares the top seed of 51.55 seconds with Diamond Dixon of Kansas, who edged out Beard for the Big 12 title. Beard was attempting to claim her eighth conference title in the 400 after winning four indoor races and three outdoor.

Beard will run in the opening heat of the women's 400 in lane two with another Kansas athlete, Kendra Bradley, in lane three while UCLA's Ashlea McLaughlin is in seven.

A&M's Ibukun Mayunge, the eighth seed at 52.63, set her career best in claiming bronze during the Big 12 final. Mayungbe runs in heat three from lane seven with UTEP's Endurance Abinuwa in lane four and Baylor's Diamond Richardson in five.

The 800 has become a new scoring opportunity for the Aggies with Joey Roberts claiming the Big 12 Indoor title while Michael Preble placed third at the NCAA Indoor and won the Big 12 Outdoor title.

Preble (1:47.71) is seeded fifth, Roberts (1:48.17) ninth and Oscar Ramirez (1:49.27) is 26th. On the women's side Aliese Hyde (2:08.48) and Erica Parker (2:08.62) are seeded 36th and 40th.