LAWRENCE, Kansas – Texas A&M begins its NCAA Championship journey with the NCAA West Preliminary rounds this weekend as action starts Thursday and concludes Saturday at Rock Chalk Park as the University of Kansas hosts the first and second rounds of the national championship meet.
The Aggie men enter the competition ranked No. 1 in the latest USTFCCCA national team computer rankings while the women moved up to No. 5 from their previous No. 9 position. Texas A&M has a total of 68 entries in the meet, with the men posting 36 entries in 18 events (33 athletes) while the women have 32 entries among 14 events (26 athletes).
“This is a tough meet,” noted Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “This is the meet where you use everything you’ve got, because if you don’t you may not advance. This is a meet that will test us, and it’s about advancing to the next round. I think our resolve as a group is pretty good, so we’ll see how they respond.”
Aggies holding top seeds in the West region include Fred Kerley (400m), Shamier Little (400m hurdles), Robert Grant (400m hurdles), Audie Wyatt and Chase Wolfle (pole vault), and Ioannis Kyriazis (javelin).
With fields of 48 entrants in each individual event and 12 teams in each relay, the NCAA Preliminary rounds will trim those fields to 12 for advancement into the NCAA Championship weekend held in Eugene, Oregon, from June 8-11.
Members of the Texas A&M men’s squad who have a seed among the top 12 heading into the competition include: Elijah Morrow (10th – 200m), Hector Hernandez (2nd – 800m), Donavan Brazier (3rd – 800m), Will Williams (8th – long jump), Latario Collie (2nd – triple jump), Lathone Collie (8th – triple jump), Jeff Bartlett (11th – discus), Sam Hardin (12th – javelin).
This season the Aggie men lead the nation with 11 performers among the national top 10 and eight of those rank among the top three nationally. Florida follows with nine performers among the top 10, but only two rank among the top three. LSU and Oregon each have eight top 10 performers as the Tigers have five ranked among the top three while the Ducks have three.
On the women’s side the Aggie crew with seeds among the top 12 includes: Krystal Sparling (8th – 100m, 12th – 200m), Brenessa Thompson (11th – 100m), Briyahna Desrosiers (8th – 400m), Jazmine Fray (4th – 800m), Shelbi Vaughan (4th – discus), Maggie Malone (2nd – javelin), and Audrey Malone (7th – javelin).
Texas A&M women have seven performers ranked among the top 10 in the nation this season with two ranked among the top three. Kentucky leads the women’s list with 13 top 10 performers, which includes five among the top three. Arkansas follows with 11 among the top 10 and seven ranked among the top three.
In the relays, the Aggie men are seeded second in the 4×400 and third in the 4×100 while the women are seeded second in the 4×100 and fourth in the 4×400.
Two entries for Texas A&M have advanced to Eugene for the heptathlon and decathlon as the top 24 multi-event marks in the nation qualify for the NCAA Championship field. Aggie junior Lindon Victor is the current world and collegiate leader with his decathlon score of 8,446 from the SEC Championships while senior Annie Kunz is ranked sixth among collegians in the heptathlon with her SEC runner-up score of 5,976 points.
There are seven events the Aggies will contest in Lawrence where Texas A&M has three or more entries in a single event area. This includes eight Aggies in the men’s 800m, five in the men’s 400m hurdles, five in the women’s 100m, five in the women’s 200m, five in the women’s javelin, four in the men’s pole vault and three in the men’s triple jump.
Thursday’s schedule, which starts at noon with field events, will include the men’s and women’s hammer, women’s javelin, men’s and women’s long jump, and men’s pole vault. Running events, which begin at 4:30 p.m., will include the first round of the 400m hurdles, 1,500m, 100m, 400m and 800m along with the semifinals of the 10,000m.