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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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Aggies take on Outdoor Championship

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Photo by Cameron Johnson

Senior Kim Dow runs the women’s 800m at E.B. Cushing Stadium on April 30, 2022.

 On the flight to Eugene, Ore., a group of 23 Aggies made their way to the track capital of the country. A journey that began on Friday, Dec. 3 in Fayetteville, Ark., came full circle in the same college town on Saturday, May 28 at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds.

Now, with about two dozen Texas A&M athletes traveling to the home of the Ducks, an area known as “Track Town, USA,” they have a chance to show America that, at least this year, “Track Town” is located in College Station.

With legendary coach Pat Henry at the helm, A&M has won nine combined titles since 2005. Even at age 70, Henry isn’t satisfied with the 36 career titles he’s earned as a coach at the NCAA Division I level.

In 2021, the women’s team finished as national runners-up twice, and the men’s team earned 31st and sixth place finishes in indoor and outdoor, respectively, fueling the teams’ hunger for their first track title in Aggieland since 2017.

At the conclusion of the indoor season, A&M finished in fifth and 10th place across men’s and women’s teams, respectively. The team is certainly looking to improve upon that performance, and it has plenty of firepower to do so.

Taking to Hayward Field, the No. 3-ranked Aggies’ women’s team advanced 10 different athletes and two relay teams to the Pacific-Northwest.

On the field, freshmen Lianna Davidson and Katelyn Fairchild will be throwing the javelin at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time, while fifth-year Ghanaian long-jumper Deborah Acquah will be returning for her third time.

After placing top three in six of her nine javelin competitions, Fairchild, who earned a second-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships, was named SEC Co-Freshman Field Athlete of the Year. She also earned membership on the All-SEC Second Team and was given Freshman All-SEC honors.

Joining them is sophomore Jamaican high jumper Lamara Distin, who finished as the runner-up in Oregon last season. She also was the lone woman from A&M to be named to the All-SEC First Team.

On the track, the Aggies had even more women advance, including graduate hurdler Deshae Wise who qualified in two individual events: the 100 and 400-meter hurdles. Senior Kaylah Robinson also advanced in the 100-meter hurdles with a wind-aided, meet-best finish of 12.57 seconds, +3.5, equaling the fastest time under all conditions ever at the NCAA West Regional.

Among the other individual qualifiers were sophomore Laila Owens in the 200-meter, sophomore Charokee Young and junior Tierra Robinson-Jones in the 400 and senior Avi’Tal Wilson-Perteete in the 800-meter.

The two qualifying relay teams were the Aggies’ 4×100 team of Robinson, Owens and juniors Jania Martin and Rachel Hall and the 4×400 team of Robinson-Jones, Martin, Young and senior Jaevin Reed. Every member of the two relay teams, except Reed, was named to the All-SEC Second Team.

On the No. 13-ranked men’s team, seven individual athletes qualified as well as one relay team.

On Day 1 of the West Regional on Wednesday, May 25, freshman shot putter Bryce Foster, who doubles as the football team’s starting center, advanced to Eugene to further highlight the strong start to the dual-sport athlete’s young, nascent collegiate career.

Joining him on the field, sophomore Carter Bajoit secured the last qualifying spot in high jump for his first career trip to Oregon.

On the track, senior Moitalel Mpoke and junior James Smith II — members of the All-SEC First Team and Second Team, respectively — advanced in the 400-meter hurdles. Freshman All-SEC member Emmanuel Bamidele advanced in the standard 400, and sophomore Brandon Miller, who has spent essentially the whole season on The Bowerman Award’s various watchlists, advanced in the 800.

Another dual-sport athlete, sophomore Devon Achane, who rushed for 900-plus yards in 2021, is capping off his sophomore campaign with a trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 100-meter dash, narrowly qualifying off of a tiebreaker.

As for the men’s relay team, the Aggies’ 4×400 team, consisting of Miller, Bamidele and freshmen Ashton Schwartzman and Cutler Zamzow, advanced as well to the final stage.

The Aggies will be facing the best of the best in Eugene, giving the team an opportunity to shine among the stars. The Outdoor Championships will start on Wednesday, June 8, and will continue through Saturday, June 11. The events can be watched on ESPN networks, including ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

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