AUSTIN – Texas A&M’s tandem of freshman Tyra Gittens and senior Shaina Burns produced career best scores to finish second and fourth in the 91st Texas Relays heptathlon on Friday.
Gittens totaled 5,700 points, which ranks her as the fourth performer on the Aggie all-time list with the 10th best performance. Burns remains No. 9 on the Aggie all-time list with her tally of 5,464 points.
Taliyah Brooks of Arkansas won the event with 5,946 points as Florida’s Amanda Froeynes moved into third place with 5,546 points. Brooks and Gittens generated the second and third best collegiate scores this season as Gittens also topped the previous best freshman score of 5,286 so far in 2018.
A previous best of 5,490 by Gittens was set in Ottawa last summer on July 4th as she improved the national junior record for Trinidad & Tobago. Gittens remains No. 2 on the senior all-time list for Trinidad & Tobago, trailing only the national record of 5,962 points set by Marsha Mark-Baird in 2004.
“It’s amazing, and I’m really satisfied with my 800 performance,” said an elated Gittens after jumping around the Myers Stadium infield upon hearing her score announced. “Everybody knows the 800 is the worst, especially for me. Today I really had to put my faith in God and remember that I can do all things through him. While I was running the 800, I kept saying that to myself. Then I finished with a PR.”
On the Texas A&M all-time list, the three Aggies ahead of Gittens include Annie Kunz (6,038), Jena Hemann (6,022) and Daphne Fitzpatrick (5,811).
For Burns, she bettered her previous best of 5,363 from 2014 when she was the runner-up at the US Junior Championships. Last season Burns came within seven points of her PR with a 5,356 score to place eighth at the SEC Championships.
“It was a career best score for me, but overall I wasn’t very happy,” said Burns. “That’s mostly because most of my open events have been going really and I was expecting to put together a score closer to 5,600 or 5,700. But that’s not the way the first multi of the outdoor season usually goes.”
Opening with the long jump on the second day of the heptathlon, Gittens scored 908 points with a leap of 20-3 ¾ (6.19) while Burns jumped 17-9 ½ (5.42) twice in scoring 677. Moving to the javelin, Burns threw 121-3 (36.96) for 609 points as Gittens scored 534 off a toss of 108-4 (33.03).
Brooks increased her lead over the field with a leading long jump of 20-8 (6.30) for 943 points. In the javelin she threw 121-1 (36.91) for 608 points. A time of 2:21.17 for 808 points wrapped up the title for Brooks, who also won a Texas Relays title in 2016 and finished as runner-up in 2017.
Gittens ran 2:30.89 in the 800 for 682 points as she produced her best time in the final event.
“Normally I drop places after the 800, so to remain in second place was so satisfying,” noted Gittens. “That gives me so much confidence in myself, because I really didn’t do my best in the high jump yesterday or in the javelin today. Knowing I had that score while not getting 100 percent in each of my events I’m so excited for the next heptathlon. It’s a great way to start the outdoor season. I’m so happy.”
Burns posted a time of 2:20.26, finishing just ahead of Brooks, but falling shy of her goal to better her 2:20 barrier. The effort kept her ahead of challengers Migle Muraskaite of Lamar (5,306) and Lousiville’s Holly Hankenson (5,220), who ran 2:14.31 and 2:13.16, respectively, in the 800m.
“I’ve been wanting to break 2:20 in the 800 and I keep getting 2:20 point something,” said Burns. “Also, I knew where I was sitting going into the 800 and there were four others within 100 points of me. So, I knew if I wanted to move up as high as I could I would need to beat them by a good margin. Luckily I did and was able to hold that top four position.”
Nathan Hite completed the decathlon with a score of 7,491 points that placed him seventh among the field of 14 who finished the event. Hite moves to No. 6 on the Aggie all-time list with his tally.
A time of 15.22 in the 110 hurdles scored Hite 823 points and he added 728 in the discus with a throw of 141-6 (43.13). A vault of 14-5 ¼ (4.40) picked up 731 points while a javelin toss of 174-3 (53.11) netted 635. Hite completed his day with a 4:51.54 in the 1,500 for 609 points.
Wichita State’s Hunter Veith won the Texas Relays decathlon with 8,046 points over Kennesaw State’s Solomon Simmons (7,946) and Scott Filip of Rice (7,876).
Racing in the B section of the women’s 1500, a pair of Aggies generated career best times. Hannah Campbell placed third in 4:29.09 while Valarie Bradley finished fifth in 4:31.86. Campbell moved to No. 9 on the Aggie all-time list while Bradley is No. 15.
A fifth place performance from Ashton Hutcherson had her running 10:38.92 in the 3,000m steeplechase as she challenged her career best of 10:31.78. Hutcherson’s time is the No. 4 performance on the Aggie all-time list. Winning the race in 10:11.02 was Clemson’s Logan Morris.
Aggie frosh Zephyr Seagraves also finished fifth in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:16.09. It’s currently the second fastest time this outdoor season by a freshman and leads the SEC.
The first field event final for Texas A&M had Carissa van Beek throwing a season best of 192-11 (58.80) to place sixth among a field of 24. Opening with a 185-8 (56.61), van Beek continued to improve over the next three rounds with marks of 190-8 (58.13), 191-2 (58.26) and 192-11. She then had a pair of fouls in rounds five and six.
Northern Arizona’s Brooke Anderssen won the hammer with a 225-2 (68.63), after starting the competition with a pair of fouls. A third round 214-11 (65.51) moved her into the lead.
Austin Cook finished ninth in the men’s hammer with a mark of 197-6 (60.21). Georgia’s Denzel Comenentia won the event with a meet and facility record of 250-3 (76.29) over LSU’s Jake Norris (233-2 | 71.06).
In the men’s 1500 Cameron Villarreal clocked 3:50.23 to place fourth while Taylor Clayton ran 3:59.24 in finishing 10th. Karis Jochen ran 16:47.49 to place eighth in the women’s 5,000m as teammate Ashley Driscoll finished 11th in 17:04.70. In the men’s 5,000m Brandt Preston, who led the field for a few of the middle laps, finished 14th in 14:41.47 while Jacob Perry was 21st in 15:08.95.
Qualifying heats of the 400m hurdles placed two Aggies in the final as Ilolo Izu produced the second best time of 50.95 while Jackson Davis ran a career best 51.11 for the eighth best time. Both won their respective heats.
Infinite Tucker ran 51.51 from lane 2, placing fourth in his heat and placing 14th overall, while Dewitt Thomas clocked 51.87 in placing fourth in his heat and finishing 20th overall.
Lauren Lawless finished third in her prelim heat of the women 400m hurdles with a career best of 59.25, bettering her previous best of 59.34 from the SEC Relays last year. Lawless moves to No. 13 on the Aggie all-time list.