June 25, 2011

EUGENE, Oregon - A fourth-place finish for Jessica Beard highlighted the third day of action for the Aggies at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field, which had an attendance count of 10,812.

With her effort Beard makes the relay pool for the United States 4 x 400 that will compete at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, from August 27 to September 4.

"I said I wanted to make the team and I missed it by one spot for the 400," noted Beard. "At least I'm still part of the relay pool. Hopefully, next year I'll be in the top three so I can make the Olympic team in the 400."

Three sprinters with ties to Texas A&M advanced to the semifinals of the 200, while a pair of Aggie frosh raced in the 200 finals of the USA Junior Championships.

Prezel Hardy, Jr. set a career best of 20.65 as runner-up in the Junior 200, just a tick behind the winning time of 20.64 from Sean McLean. Hardy had a great start in lane five that pushed him to the lead coming off the turn. McLean closed the gap late and managed to claim the victory on the lean at the finish.

"I didn't have the performance I would have liked in the 100 when I placed fifth," Hardy noted. "My only focus today was my last race of the weekend, so I had to give it all I had. I set a personal best and I'm very happy.

"I can always tell when I have a great start. I was determined to do better than the prelims, when I got left in the blocks."

Hardy lowered his previous best of 20.74 and his 20.65 ranks fifth on the 2011 world junior list. He tops the world junior 100 list with a 10.13 from this season.

By placing among the top two finishers, Hardy earns a position on the United States team that will compete at the Pan Am Juniors from July 22-24 in Miramar, Florida.

"To be able to represent my country is a great feeling," said Hardy, who won the World Youth 100 title in 2009. "It's been an outstanding year for me. I've set personal best times in the 60, 100 and 200.

"I've also had great experiences, being part of a national championship team and part of a historic NCAA triple-double. I'm proud to have run with such a talented group."

In the junior women's 200 Ashley Collier placed fourth with a 23.54. Her fourth-place effort in the 100 final on Friday will place her in the 4 x 100 relay pool for the Pan Am Juniors.

"I had fun, it was a good experience," Collier said. "It's always exciting to have an opportunity to represent the United States against other countries. It's been a long season, but it's worth it. Next year I think my body and mind will be used to it."

Porscha Lucas (22.85w) and Jeneba Tarmoh (2294) moved on to Sunday's semifinals.

Beard, running from lane 2, posted a time of 51.06, her best outdoor time of the 2011 season. Allyson Felix won the race in 50.40 with Francena McCorory (50.49) and Debbie Dunn (50.70) taking second and third.

"Once I made up the stagger on Natasha Hastings in lane three, I was trying to see where the other girls were," said Beard. "They were way up there, and I said yesterday that a 50-point was going to make the team.

"I'm happy with my time, it is my season best outdoors. I was kind of pouting about my lane, but sometimes we don't always get the lane we want."

Finishing behind Beard were Natasha Hastings (51.14), DeeDee Trotter (51.17), Keshia Baker (52.21) and Mary Wineberg (52.26).

Felix, the defending world champion in the 200, is still debating if she will attempt a 200-400 double at the IAAF World Championships this summer in Daegu, South Korea. If Felix opts to only contest the 200 at the World Championships, Beard would be added to the U.S. 400 field.

The 400 title for Felix add to her collection of 100 and 200 titles she has claimed at the USA Championships, making her the first female to achieve titles in those three sprint events.

Also earning a trip to South Korea is former volunteer assistant coach Aries Merritt, who still trains in College Station. He posted a 13.12 in the 110 hurdles to place second to the 13.04 from winner David Oliver. Aries matched his season best time.

Other Aggie competitors on the third day of the meet included Emalie Humphreys in the javelin and Melvin Echard in the long jump. Echard reached a distance of 25-2.75 (7.69) to finish 13th while Humphreys had a best of 141-8 (43.20) to place 15th.

JAMAICAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Aggie senior Julian Reid placed second in the long jump at the National Senior Championships held in Kingston, Jamaica, with a career best leap of 26-6.25 (8.08). Tarik Batchelor, who competes for Arkansas, won the event with a windy 26-9.75 (8.17).

Clora Williams, Texas A&M's 2006 NCAA champion in the 400, placed third in the 800 final with a time of 2:04.20.