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The Battalion

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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Will Williams earns long jump gold on Day one of NCAA Indoor Championships

Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Sophomore Devin Dixon finishes strong to claim his victory in the Men’s 800 meter race by almost two seconds.

Day one of competition at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships saw Texas A&M senior Will Williams crowned the long jump champion with his final leap of the competition. 
“The whole field was full of tough competitors, and as y’all know I’ve been coming runner-up or third to those guys for the past few years,” Williams said. “This year I just wanted it to be different.”
Williams cruised through the trials, carried by his opening jump of 26-2.25 (7.98). The senior held the lead through the fourth round, until Grant Holloway of Florida surpassed him with a leap of 26-8.25 (8.13) in the fifth. 
“The first thing that came to mind is, ‘this guys is talented’,” Williams said. “You will never come across another athlete like Grant Holloway.”
Texas Tech’s Charles Brown then jumped 26-7.75 (8.12) in the sixth and final round to leave Williams looking up at his two opponents when he took position for his final attempt.
The crowd erupted as Williams glided down the runway and leapt to a distance of 26-10.5 (8.19) to jump past both Holloway and Brown and be crowned the long jump champion. The distance set a new school and facility record by six inches.
“I just stayed composed and executed my run,” Williams explained. “The crowd really carried me down that runway, and once I hit the board I knew it was something big because I struggled hitting the board the whole competition.”
“The crowd was very phenomenal out there,” he added. “Most home meets we have, we don’t get his kind of crowd…I felt like they were by the side of me running down the runway. Once I heard their reaction, my feelings and emotions reacted as well.”
With the win, Williams swept both the SEC and NCAA indoor titles this season and has now scored NCAA points in three consecutive years. 
“There aren’t too many words that can describe it,” Williams said. “As you can see I was very emotional out there after the jump. It’s really a crazy feeling, I can’t really explain it.”
Williams is now looking to continue his success into the upcoming outdoor season.
“I know there is going to be a target on my back, so I just want to use this a fuel for the outdoors,” he said.
“Outdoors I just really want to be a leader for this team and hopefully guide us to an outdoor national championship,” he added later. 
The Texas A&M men’s team stands in second place behind Virginia Tech after day one, tallying 15.5 points with only five of the 17 events scored. Although the women’s team only has one point in the early stages of competition, they will have several opportunities to score tomorrow. 
Tyra Gittens was the lone point scorer for the women, managing an eighth place finish in the pentathlon with a total score of 4,197. She improved her career best score and Trinidad and Tobago national record of 4,121 that she set at the SEC Championship.
“Hurdles was definitely the highlight of my day,” Gittens said. “It was fun because I told my coach, ‘watch this, I’m about to hit 8.43’. I came out there and completely skipped all the fours. My personal best before was an 8.51.”
Gittens ran a career-best 8.35 in the 60m hurdles to earn 1,050 points and put her in fifth after the first event. She then went on to finish fifth in high jump with a leap of 5-10 (1.78), before reaching a career-best distance of 42-1.5 (12.84) in the shot put and place her third overall with two events to go. 
She held her third place standing with a leap of 19-8 (5.99) in the long jump, however, the final event saw her drop five spots with a time of 2:35.05 in the 800m.
“Today was amazing,” Gittens added. “My family came all the way up here to support me, and I had so much fun. I wish I would have ended better with my 800m, but that’s just something I need to work on.”
Other point scorers included senior Audie Wyatt and junior Jacob Wooten in the pole vault, who tied for fifth and solo-seventh, respectively. Wyatt cleared his indoor personal best of 18-2.5 (5.55) that earned him second place at nationals last season, but finished three positions lower this time around.
“Today was a great competition with great competitors, and I can’t believe 5.50m got eighth place,” Wyatt said. “I think this is a great year for the pole vault, and it’s only up from here for me. I was definitely feeling really good today. My run was on, I was on big poles and I was doing everything that I was supposed to do…I tied my indoor PR, but I definitely feel like that wasn’t enough for me.” 
Wooten, who won six of the seven meets he competed in this season and set a new school record of 18-4.5, had an uncharacteristic performance today. After clearing 18-.5 (5.50), he failed to pass 18-2.5 (5.55) three times. 
Despite the disappointing end to the indoor season, Wyatt is confident he and Wooten will have a successful outdoor campaign. 
“I’m so hungry right now,” he added. “I really want to go to outdoors. I know I can jump high and I’m starting to feel my rhythm…I think it’s great to have two Aggies on the podium. I guarantee you we are going to have two Aggies on the podium outdoors, and it won’t be seventh and fifth.”
In the men’s 400m, senior Mylik Kerley ran a personal best time of 45.64 to finish first in his heat and earn the second overall qualifying spot into the final. Fellow senior Robert Grant finished second in his heat with a time of 46.46, but finished 12th overall, missing out on a spot in tomorrow’s finals. 
SEC Champion Devin Dixon had an uncharacteristic performance in the 800m, running a 1:48.72 to finish seventh in his heat an 13th overall and came nowhere close to a place in the finals.
However, the women’s 800m saw two Aggies make it to Saturday evening’s final. Freshman Sammy Watson was not fazed by her first time on the big stage, clocking a time of 2:03.55 to win her heat and finish first overall. Collegiate record holder Jazmine Fray finished second in her heat with a time of 2:04.71 and finished sixth overall.
Sophomore 200m runner Danyel White also advanced to the final, clocking a season-best 23.07 to finish second in her heat and seventh overall. 
Champions will be crowned in both the men’s and women’s championships tomorrow night, and crucial points will be up for grabs for the Aggies.  
Along with today’s runners who advanced to the finals, sophomore’s Lajarvia Brown and Ciynamon Stevenson will be competing in the women’s triple jump, while senior Alison Ondrusek will be looking to become only the third Aggie woman to score points in the weight throw. 
The Aggies will also have talented 4×400 relay squads on track. The men’s squad, who won the SEC title on this same track just two weeks ago, will feature Ilolo Izu, Grant, Dixon and Kerley, with Bryce Deadmon as the alternate. The women’s team will be looking to improve on last year’s third-place finish with a lineup of White, Glorilisha Carter, Julia Madubuike and Fray, with Jarra Owens as the alternate.
Saturday’s action gets underway with the men’s heptathlon at noon and closes with the highly anticipated 4×400 relays just after 6:30 p.m.

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