COLLEGE STATION – Among the seven teams featured in the , a scored meet being held on Saturday inside Gilliam Indoor Stadium, three have a squad ranked among the top 25 in the preseason version of the USTFCCCA national team computer rankings.
Visiting teams include Arizona State, Georgia, TCU, Texas Tech, UT Arlington and UTSA. Running finals begin at 1:30 p.m. with some field events and prelim races starting at noon. The action will be completed by 4:30 p.m.
“It’s a small, quick meet and we run it fast,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry of the three-hour format. “There are some good teams with some good athletes here Saturday and it will be competitive.”
Georgia is the top ranked program entered this weekend with the Bulldog women ranked No. 3 and the men No. 8. Headlining the Georgia squad is Keturah Orji (Keh-TUR-uh OR-gee), the American record holder in the triple jump who placed fourth in the Rio Olympics, as well as Kendell Williams, a three-time NCAA pentathlon champion and two-time NCAA heptathlon winner.
Also ranked among the top 25 in the early stages of this indoor season are the men’s squads for Texas A&M (No. 11) and Texas Tech (No. 12).
The Aggies enter the meet coming off a pair of team wins in the Texas A&M Team Invitational they hosted last weekend.
“We had a good, balanced performance,” noted Henry. “We were a little sparing in a couple of areas last week. We ran a lot of relays teams, which was important in getting a lot of athletes involved. This week we’ll get a little closer to putting people in their main events.”
Since the venue’s opening for the 2009 season, this is the weekend the Aggies have hosted duals in various stages of a dual, triangular or quadrangular meet over the past eight years. The Aggie men have comprised a 14-0 record on this weekend over that time frame with the women 11-3.
Instead of a dual meet scoring format, the meet will use the standard 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring for the top eight places.
Jazmine Fray, competing in a third different distance this season, races in her shortest venture so far with the 400m. With two victories this indoor campaign, Fray broke the school record in the 1,000m (2:43.15) in December and last weekend she came within a second of the mile school record with a 4:44.87 performance.
Over 400m, Fray ran 55.37 indoors as an Aggie frosh in 2016 and improved to 54.71 during the outdoor season. Last weekend she also split 53.56 as the third leg on Texas A&M’s 4×400 relay that finished second in 3:34.90, currently the fastest time in the SEC and second best collegiately.
After racing in the mile twice this indoor season, Katie Willard competes in the 800m where she holds the Aggie indoor school record with a time of 2:05.79. Will Williams, the NCAA long jump runner-up, will jump for the first time this indoor season.
In the sprints, a pair of Aggie freshmen set world junior leading times for 2017 last weekend when Danyel White (23.46) won the 200m and Jaevin Reed (53.80) claimed the 400m. They will both contest the 200m this weekend.
Mylik Kerley races in the 400m for the first time as an Aggie while his brother, Fred, will contest the 200m for the third time this indoor season after posting wins of 20.85 in December and 20.87 last weekend.
Texas Tech’s Trey Culver, the defending NCAA Indoor champion, headlines the men’s high jump. Aggie Audie Wyatt set the pole vault meet record a year ago prior to breaking the school record with an 18-1 (5.51) clearance as he claimed the SEC Indoor title. Last weekend he was runner-up with a clearance of 17-5 ½ (5.32), which matched the winning height.
In addition to challenging his school record again in the weight throw, Austin Cook faces a stern test with Georgia’s Alex Poursanidis, the 2016 SEC Indoor runner-up, in the field.
Aggie Celine Markert has improved nearly six feet in the shot put from her best indoor effort of 44-11 (13.69) as a freshman in 2016. Markert improved by three feet in December and repeated the feat last weekend when she finished third with a toss of 50-7.5 (15.43).
There will be one Olympic development race this weekend with a women’s 200m that is scheduled to include Shamier Little, a three-time NCAA 400m hurdle champion, along with Phyllis Francis, an Oregon grad who trains in College Station and finished fifth in the 2016 Olympic 400m final. Texas A&M alums in the race also include Kanika Beckles and Jennifer Madu.