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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie track and field prepare for NCAA Indoor Championships

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Photo by Cassie Stricker

A&M’s Falon Wilson, Chinyere Njoku, Gabrielle McDonald and Kennedy Smith placed fourth, third, first and second, respectively, in the 60 meter hurdles.

The Texas A&M Track and Field team will travel to the Birmingham Crossplex to compete in the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships on March 8-9.
The Aggies qualified 16 athletes to compete over 12 events. The No. 4 men’s team, who won the title in 2017, qualified seven athletes for the championships. Meanwhile, the No. 9 women’s team, whose best finish came in 2009 (runner-up), qualified eight.
Both teams are coming off strong performances at the SEC championships two weeks ago, where the men placed fifth and the women placed second.
“Our upper-end people at the SEC championships really did a good job and I’m pleased with us going forward into the NCAA championships,” A&M head coach Pat Henry told 12thman.com. “…We’ve got some people in key places, it’s just a matter of going there and getting it done. That’s always the challenge, doing it on the day when you can score points in the national meet.”
A&M enters the event with three collegiate leaders, sophomore middle distance runner Devin Dixon for the 800 meter, sophomore Tahar Triki in the triple jump and the women’s 4×400 squad. The Aggies will bring seven athletes who have scored points in previous NCAA indoor championships.
Dixon, who will be competing in the men’s 800m and 4×400 relay, had a stellar season, setting a new 800m school record and breaking the American collegiate record set in 1999 with a time of 1:45.27. At the SEC championships, the junior defended his 800m title and anchored the Aggies to their third consecutive 4×400 conference title.
“Devin [Dixon] has continued to mature,” Henry told 12thman.com. “He just continues to get a little bit better all the time … Sometimes there’s just someone who’s better than you. Sometimes you should be better than everyone else. We hope to find that guy whose time it is to be better than everyone else. Devin is one of those guys right now.”
In his first full indoor season, Triki claimed the SEC title by almost three feet with a career best leap of 15.82m. The Algerian broke his country’s national record established in 1992 at the Texas Tech Classic, jumping 16.52m. Triki also set a new school record at Clemson’s Tiger Paw Invite, with a collegiate-leading jump of 17.00.
The women’s 4×400 relay squad ran two world-leading times in 2019, including their time of 3:29.15, that claimed the team’s first ever SEC title. Contributing members included, Syaira Richardson, Tierra Robinson-Jones, Julia Madubuike, Jaevin Reed and Jarra Owens. Richardson, Robinson-Jones and Madubuike also qualified for the 400m.
The men’s 4×400 relay team enters with the second-best time of the season (3:01.56) behind University of Houston. The Aggies have won this event four times since 2010 and finished second last year to LSU.
On track for A&M will be Dixon, Ilolo Izu, Bryce Deadmon and Kyree Johnson. Deadmon, who won bronze at the SEC Championships, will also compete in the 400m.
“One thing we always have to think about is that it’s not only about ourselves, it’s about working together,” Izu told 12thman.com. “I think that gives us confidence, especially building from previous meets. Something we can always look forward to is having our teammates to rely on in the 4×400.”
Carlton Orange, a transfer from Arkansas, will compete alongside Dixon in the 800m. The junior managed a sixth place finish at the 2016 NCAAs while competing for the Razorbacks and is coming off a third place finish at the SEC championships two weeks ago.
“I got to train with Devin [Dixon] all year,” Orange told 12thman.com. “We got to push each other in practice. I know exactly what it’s going to take to win a national championship. I’ve just have to go out and do it.”
In the women’s 800m, collegiate record holder Jazmine Fray will look to improve upon her fourth and fifth place finishes the last two seasons. The senior is coming off her second SEC championship title.
Brenessa Thompson will compete in the 200m. The senior ran a season best time of 23.02 that improved her Guyana national record.
The Aggies will bring one pole vaulter to the event this season, as Jacob Wooten qualified for his third indoor NCAA appearance. The senior qualified with a career best height of 5.72m, and will look to improve upon his seventh place finish in 2018.
Rounding out the men’s team is Nathan Hite, who will compete in the heptathlon. The senior is coming of a career best, 5,680-point performance that earned him a bronze medal at the SEC championships.
Sophomore Deborah Acquah will feature in the women’s long jump, after winning a silver medal at the SEC Championships on her last jump (6.18m). Rounding out the women’s team is junior triple jumper Ciynamon Stevenson, who recorded her season best jump of 13.31m at the SEC championships.
The event will feature some of the best athletes in the world, and Henry said he’s aware that not all teams are created equal.
“There are some teams with a lot of numbers in the meet that have different kinds of opportunities,” Henry told 12thman.com. “On the ladies’ side, Arkansas is the team that has the biggest opportunity when it comes to numbers of athletes entered. On the men’s side there really isn’t a team that is overwhelming with the numbers, so it comes down to great people getting great things done this weekend.”
The indoor championships get underway on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and will continue on Saturday starting at 4 p.m. All events will be televised on ESPN3.

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