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    Saturday SEC Track & Field Report

    Third-Ranked Texas A&M Women Hold Off No. 2 Oregon

    EUGENE – A pair of school records highlighted a cold, wet experience for the Aggies at the Oregon Pepsi Team Invitational in Hayward Field on Saturday as they collected a total of 16 wins. The No. 3 A&M women handed the No. 2 Ducks a rare defeat, 201 to 181, while the No. 1 A&M men fell short of No. 4 Oregon, 194.5 to 180.5, in front of 5,367 fans.
     
    In defeating Oregon for the women’s title it marks the first loss by the Ducks since 2008, when Minnesota topped Oregon by one point. 
     
    Washington finished third with 146 while Washington State placed fourth with 138 points in the women’s competition. Behind Oregon and A&M in the men’s competition, Washington State scored 165.5 points while Washington put together 129.5 to place third and fourth.
     
    Shelbi Vaughan broke her own school record in the discus with an impressive toss of 193 feet, 4 inches (58.93), which won the event by over 40 feet. Vaughan improved upon her A&M record of 188-8.
     
    Henry Lelei improved his school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase on the way to setting a world-leading time for 2013 with his 8:32.91 victory. He broke the meet record of 8:40.91 set in 1996 by Oregon’s Daniel Das Neves. 
     
    Lelei lowered his previous A&M record of 8:38.90 from last season while lowering the previous world-leading time for 2013 of 8:33.74 set by Youcef Abdi of Australia in Melbourne earlier on April 6.



    Gamecocks Post Seven Top 10s on Final Day of Florida Relays

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – South Carolina track and field wrapped up competition in the 69th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays at Percy Beard Track, turning in seven top-10 finishes, including three top-five showings on Saturday. Senior Breanna Radford accounted for two of those top-10s, while two relay teams on the women’s side posted top-five times. 
     
    The women amassed a bulk of the Gamecocks’ best finishes, beginning with Radford in sixth place in the hammer throw. The senior began her morning with a throw of 170-10 (52.06m) then closed her meet with the shot put, in which she finished fifth with a throw of 54-04.00 (16.56m). It was the best of the season for South Carolina and the third-best score in the East.
     
    South Carolina’s top 4x100m women’s relay entry claimed fifth in the event as Kierre Beckles, Erika Rucker, Vashti Bandy and Alexis Murphy combined for a season-best time of 45.07, to rank among the top 10 in the East.
     
    In the 4x200m relay, both the Gamecock entries on the women’s side finished in the top 10. Bandy, Rucker, Christal Green and Murphy took fifth with a time of 1:34.73, while the team of Amber Allen, Ahtyana Johnson, Tyler Brockington and Tamera Harris ran it in 1:36.27 for ninth.
     
    The men added a pair of top 10s in the relays. Chris Maxwell, Eric Winfrey, Dondre Echols and Chris Royster took seventh in 4x200m with a time of 1:24.25. The Gamecocks’ top entry in the 4x800m relay took 10th in a time of 7:43.15.
     
    Next weekend, the Gamecocks travel to Athens, Ga., for their first scored meet of the outdoor season at the Spec Town Relays. 



    Relay Leads Way for Lady Vols in Florida

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Tennessee track & field team, one of the nation’s top women’s relay teams in recent NCAA history, returned to form on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, Fla. Competing at the 69th annual Pepsi Florida Relays, the Lady Vols won both the 4x800-meter and distance medley relay races to highlight the final day of the meet.
     
    “As a team for the entire meet, I thought we performed well,” said Director of Track & Field/Cross Country J.J. Clark. “This meet was great in the preparation for meets such as the SEC Championship and NCAA East Regional down the road. It was good to go to Florida and break records that we previously held, and having a different group in the DMR do well was also very exciting.
     
    “We had a lot of good performances today and yesterday as well with Kyle Quinn winning the javelin and a bunch of PRs in the middle distance events, which could all lead to SEC points,” Clark said. “We even left some of our distance men home so it was a good showing overall, and we have some more to go.”
     
    The Lady Vol squad of juniors Brittney Jackson and Kianna Ruff and seniors Kelsey Kane and Nijgia Snapp broke the Florida Relays and Percy Beard Track records with a readout of 8 minutes, 28.81 seconds in the 4x800mR. The mark, which ranks as the seventh-fastest in program history, bested the records set by four former Lady Vols. In 2009, Tennessee’s Rolanda Bell, Sarah Bowman, Phoebe Wright and Chanelle Price turned in a time of 8:28.99 at the meet
     
    Jackson got the Lady Vols off to a good start in the 4x800mR, placing the quartet in second place at the first handoff. Ruff took off on her first lap, dictating the pace before giving a slight edge to the hometown Gators. Kane, usually a distance specialist, came up huge and was able to keep on the Gators in the third leg. Roughly a second behind Florida at the exchange, Snapp quickly caught up to UF’s Cory McGee and stalked her for a lap and a half. On the backstretch, McGee opened up a lead, but it was Snapp’s closing ability that gave the squad the meet and track records by .18 seconds.
     
    “We went out here, we gave it our best shot, and we came out with a win,” said Snapp. “It was a nice race, and I had a good time.”
     
    Shortly after, a youthful Lady Vol group made up of freshman Alexis Panisse, sophomores Julia Petree and Amirah Johnson and junior Ty-Vonna Johnson added a victory in the distance medley relay. UT, which has won four indoor NCAA DMR titles since 2004, led from wire to wire and crossed the line in 11:51.88, finishing over 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Indiana. 
     
    “After seeing the victory of our 4x800 girls and how our 4x400 boys stuck in the race, we got so excited for them and how they ran, and we wanted to do the same thing,” said Ty-Vonna Johnson. “We came out here and basically just took their victory and made it into our own. We saw how happy they were and how determined they were to get their victories, so coming out here and doing the same thing is what motivated us.”
     
    The Big Orange pole vaulters highlighted the action for the Vols on Saturday. Freshman Jake Blankenship, who finished fourth at last week’s Texas Relays, led the way as the runner-up. Once again going head-to-head with Ole Miss’ Sam Kendrick – the winner of the 2013 Texas Relays – Blankenship ended up with a height of 17-feet, 8.5-inches (5.40m). His teammates Tyler Porter and Chase Brannon followed closely. Porter came up just shy of his lifetime best, finishing third with a mark of 17-4.5 (5.30m), while Brannon tied for fourth place (16-8.75/5.10m).
     
    The Vols also got top-five finishes from Tavis Bailey in the discus (4th, 177-8/54.16m), and both the 4x800m (4th, 7:30.40) and distance medley relays (5th, 10:01.71).
     
    The Orange and White hosts the 47th annual Sea Ray Relays at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium from April 11-13. The second annual "Sea Ray Showcase," which features the men's and women's 200m, 1500m, 800m, 400m, 100m, DMR and the 4x100m relays will take place from 12:30 p.m. ET to 1:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 13.



    Alabama Men Sit in Second, Women in Third at Crimson Tide Event

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –Alabama athletes won seven individual events and one relay while setting one school record and posting several performances that rank among UA's all-time top 10 lists on Saturday at the Crimson Tide Invitational at the Sam Bailey Track Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
     
    The Tide men placed second in the team standings with 117 points while the Alabama women were fourth with 80 in final standings. Nebraska men (149) & Penn St. women (115.5) win team titles.
     
    "We had a solid day overall," said UA head coach Dan Waters. "We had some good individual performances and I was pleased with how we competed and produced today."
     
    Freshman thrower Elias Hakansson broke the school record in the men's hammer throw for the second time in the 2013 season with a throw of 211 feet, 3 inches (64.39 meters) on the way to a victory in the event. Hakansson outdistanced Missouri's Brian Duncan (201-3/61.34m) and Missouri's Jacob Bullinger (197-3/60.12m) while Alabama's Charodd Richardson was fourth at 187-1 (57.03m). Charond Richardson of Alabama was seventh with a throw of 174-2 (53.09m).
     
    Hakansson's record throw came on his second attempt of the competition. He compiled legal throws on all five attempts before passing on a sixth throw. All five of Hakansson's throws on Saturday exceeded 200 feet/62 meters and four of the five attempts were better than 210-0 (64.01m), the distance of Hakansson's previous school record set on March 22 at the John Mitchell Alabama Relays in Tuscaloosa.
     
    "He had a consistent series but we were hoping for even better distance, but you can never complain about a school record," said UA assistant coach Doug Reynolds, the Tide's throws coach.
     
    In the women's 800 meters, Yanique Malcolm produced the third-best 800 performance in Alabama history as she won the race in 2:05.32. That exceptional outing bettered runner-up Alena Brooks of Minnesota (2:05.82) and Marta Klebe of Penn State (2:07.32).
     
    Pole vaulter Alexis Paine continued her dominance in the women's pole vault with a clearance of 13-5 3/4 (4.10m) to win the event. That mark ranks third on the all-time UA list for the women's pole vault and she owns the three best marks in UA history after breaking her school record last week at Georgia Tech.
     
    Paine's win continued the Tide women's assault on the all-time UA pole vault list. Autumn Conn's fourth-place finish in 12-2 1/2 ranks seventh on the all-time UA list while Reed Hancock and Anna Rawles both cleared 11-2 1/2 to join the list at 10th in UA history.
     
    Alabama took a victory in the men's 4x100-meter relay with the fourth-best time in Crimson Tide history. The quartet of Alex Sanders, Diondre Batson, Akeem Haynes, Dushane Farrier rounded the track in 39.17 seconds to defeat Nebraska (40.80) and Penn State (41.04).
     
    Sprinter Diondre Batson won the men's 200 in 20.61, a time that ranks seventh on the all-time UA outdoor list. He beat veteran adidas sprinter Mookie Salaam (20.82), Mississippi State's Tavaris Tate (21.08) and Penn State's Aaron Nadolsky (21.45). Tide freshman James Harrington was fifth in 21.52.
     
    Crimson Tide freshman Robbie Farnham-Rose continued an impressive start to his outdoor season with a victory in the men's 1,500 meters. Farnham-Rose, of Great Britain, finished in 3:47.55 well ahead of Matt Airola, who was running unattached and finished in 3:49.19. Nebraska's Trevor Vidlak was third in 3:49.37 with Penn State's Casimir Loxsom fourth in 3:49.67. Alabama's Austin Duckworth was seventh (3:57.52), Alabama's Gil Walton was eighth (3:58.3) and the Crimson Tide's Justin Ahalt was 12th in 4:09.53.
     
    Alabama sprinters took the first two spots in the men's 100 with Akeem Haynes winning the race in 10.46 seconds while Alex Sanders was second in 10.58. Sarah Thomas was second in the women's 100 for Alabama in a time of 12.02, just .04 behind event winner Mara Weekes of Nebraska (11.98).
     
    Krystle Schade won the women's high jump, her first victory of the outdoor season, clearing 5 feet, 10 3/4 inches (1.80m). to defeat Nebraska's Killanna Scanlan (5-7/1.70m) and Marusa Cernjul (5-7/1.70m).
     
    Justin Fondren matched the winning height in the men's high jump, clearing 7 feet, 1/4 of an inch (2.14m) but finished second to Penn State's Sean Reilly on misses.



    Bulldogs Wrap Up Action at Florida Relays

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The Bulldog track and field teams posted a series of strong finishes to highlight the final day of competition at the Pepsi Florida Relays in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday.
     
    “The men and women competed very well today,” said Bulldog assistant coach Jon Stuart.  “We ran some different relays that we are not used to and ended up qualifying several athletes for the East Regionals.  It’s great to have a high-quality multi-day meet to prepare for the SEC Championships.”
     
    Georgia captured a victory in the distance medley relay after completing their laps in 9:57.66.  Sophomore Charles Grethen, junior Eric Mills, senior Daniel Grass and freshman Kisean Smith clocked a time of 9:57.66 to cruise to a victory in the event.
     
    Other highlights for the Bulldogs came from Georgia’s throwers.  Sophomore Nick Vena, who was making his outdoor debut for UGA, recorded an effort of 61 feet, 6 ¼ inches to take fourth in the shot put.  This is the seventh-best throw in Bulldog history.
     
    Also in the shot put, junior Caleb Whitener took seventh while reaching 60 feet with a top throw of 60-1.
     
    Junior Elizabeth Tepe also posted her second-best performance of her Lady Bulldog career to take third in the hammer throw.  Tepe lifted her fourth attempt 194-1 to be the top SEC finisher.
     
    The Bulldogs return home for the Spec Towns National Team Invitational starting on Thursday in Athens.
     
    Full results and recaps from the Florida Relays will be found at georgiadogs.com.



    Gators Break School Record on Final Day of Florida Relays

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida women’s 4x400-meter relay closed the 69th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays in stunning fashion, breaking the Florida school record in 3:27.43 to claim the collegiate-leading time for the second week in a row.
     
    “The 4x400 is kind of the signature event for us and we always like to close the meet with it,” Florida head coach Mike Holloway said. “It’s the last thing anyone sees of us so we want to go out with a great effort. The women went out and broke a school record that people thought was unbreakable and I’m incredibly proud of them.”
     
    The relay team of Robin Reynolds (Miami, Fla.), Lanie Whittaker (Miami, Fla.), Destinee Gause (Reynoldsburg, Ohio) and Ebony Eutsey (Miami, Fla.) etched their names in Gator history, finishing as the top collegians in the event behind professional team One Goal Athletics in 3:24.58.
     
    “It feels great. Our team is young here,” Eutsey said. “We have two freshmen on this team, so for freshmen to be able to step up and take that record is a good thing. It means a lot to all of us. It’s just great.”
     
    Holloway was the head coach at Buchholz High School when the previous Florida record (3:27.53) was set in 1992. Holloway noted that even then, no one thought the record could be broken. He looks to Eutsey and Whittaker as leaders on this year’s Gator squad.
     
    “We’ve talked about that a lot,” Holloway said. “The thing that Ebony has done for us is that she and Lanie Whittaker have said ‘Hey in the past we’ve kind of had a leg here or a leg there that wasn’t quite ready, but we’ve got four legs, let’s engage in it every time.’ That’s really important to them. What they’ve done is they’ve said ‘Let’s see how fast we can go this year.’ The goal at the beginning of the year was to break the school record. But I guess we reevaluate our goals now.”
     
    The men’s 4x400-meter relay also turned in a runner-up finish, crossing the line as the top collegians in the race at 3:04.39. The Gators still hold the top time in the NCAA from their race in Austin last weekend at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays (3:02.65).
     
    Florida’s sprint medley relay captured the Pepsi Florida Relays title in 3:43.62, the second-fastest time in program history. Gause, Eutsey, Whittaker and McGee claimed the crown easily Saturday, winning by nearly three seconds over UCF.
     
    Both of the women’s and the men’s 4x800-meter relays improved on their previous Florida Relays times by over 20 seconds, registering second-place finishes of 8:30.15 and 7:22.41, respectively.
     
    The Pepsi Florida Relays was UF’s first outdoor home meet and nears the midpoint of the outdoor season. With the Gators just over a month away from the conference meet, Holloway likes where his team is headed.
     
    “I think (these performances show) that they trust the program, they trust our strength trainer, Matt DeLancey, they trust everyone involved in the program,” Holloway said. “Coming off of indoor nationals, we started lifting heavy, working hard, and they’re sore. But they come here and perform at a high level and now they get excited about what’s going to happen. I think what it shows is that we are going to be okay and we’re going to do really well here in five to six weeks.”
     
    The Gators travel up the road to Tallahassee for the Seminole Invitational, Friday-Saturday, April 12-13.



    Kendricks' Pole Vault Win Boosts Ole Miss

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore Sam Kendricks won yet another big pole vault competition to highlight the Ole Miss performance at the 69th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays this weekend.
     
    The 11th-ranked Ole Miss men’s team and the Rebel women’s team lined up against several of the nation’s elite teams and a few of the top American professionals at the prestigious meet, held at the James G. Pressly Stadium on the campus of the University of Florida.
     
    A week after posting the world’s best pole vault of the year in Texas, Kendricks was victorious on Saturday in Gainesville with a winning vault of 18-0.5. It wasn’t quite the performance he had in Texas with a school-record clearance of 19-0.75 that was the best by an NCAA athlete since 1998, but it was another quality performance by the only vaulter in Ole Miss history who has ever cleared 18 feet.
     
    Freshman Onyi Afoaku also had a good day for the Rebel men on Saturday. He registered a season-best 54-6.5 in the shot put to place fourth. It moved him up to the No. 3 spot in the school record books and was the best by a Rebel since 2009. He also placed fifth in the discus invite with a throw of 173-1.
     
    On Friday, senior Isiah Young placed sixth in the 100 meters with a season-best time of 10.28, which ranks him ninth in the NCAA. The 2012 Olympian from Junction City, Kan., also competed in his signature event, the 200 meters, for the first time this season, clocking a 20.81 for eighth place. That time ranks him 11th nationally.
     
    The Rebel women had a pair of quality relay races on Saturday.
     
    The 4x100 meter relay squad of Shari Russell, Jasmine Williams, Destiny Lundy and Asia Cooper finished eighth with a time of 45.27, which is the 35th-best time in the NCAA this year.
     
    The 4x200 relay squad of Russell, Cooper, Lundy and Kiannah Alexander ran a 1:37.28, which ranks them eighth-best in school history.
     
    Senior Marci Morman leaped a season-best 41-8.5 in the triple jump to place fourth. That mark moves her up to 18th in the NCAA this year.
     
    Senior Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen’s season-best time of 59.76 in the 400-meter hurdles on Friday ranks her 31st in the nation.
     
    Up next for the Rebels is the first of two straight home meets with this coming Saturday’s Ole Miss Invitational, part of Grove Bowl Week in Oxford.



    Mississippi State Wraps Up from Tuscaloosa

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Under clear and sunny skies at Sam Bailey Stadium, the Mississippi State track and field team picked up several individual victories at the Crimson Tide Invitational Saturday.
     
    In team competition, the Nebraska men earned the win with a total of 149.00 points, while the Bulldogs finished fourth with 92.00 points. The Penn State women claimed the overall title with 115.50 points, while the MSU women posted 72.50 points for a sixth-place finish.
     
    Jody-Ann Muir picked up multiple victories, running a 54.00 in the 400-meter dash and team season-best 23.89 in the 200-meter dash.
     
    Sophomore Erica Bougard added a second-place finish in both the long jump (20-2.25) and the 100-meter hurdles (13.80). Fellow sophomore Ebony Brinker also picked up a second-place finish with a 40-1.50 in the triple jump. 
     
    The men picked up three individual victories in Tuscaloosa. Jason Harper bested the field in the triple jump with a 50-2.00 and picked up 10 points for the Bulldogs. Nathan Arnett ran a 14.17 in the 110-meter hurdles to pick up the win, while Daundre Barnaby was victorious in the 400-meter dash with a team season-best 46.32.
     
    Arnett also tacked on a top three showing in the 400-meter hurdles, finishing second with a 51.19. A.J. Ward added a second-place finish in the long jump with a 23-4.00.
     
    “Very proud of our guys and girls for the way they competed today,” coach Steve Dudley said. “Not the best finish for the team overall, but we had a lot of great individual performances that we can build off of for the future.”
     
    The Bulldogs will return to action this Saturday at The Battle On The Bayou in Baton Rouge, La.



    Arkansas Collects Four Wins at Sun Angel

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 11 University of Arkansas women’s track and field team continued its outdoor campaign Saturday night with four wins and five personal-best efforts at the 34th Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Razorbacks collected first-place performances from Sparkle McKnight at 400 meters, Ivanique Kemp in the 100-meter hurdles, Megan Zimlich in the open pole vault and the team’s 4x100-meter relay.

    In the team’s first track win of the day, Kemp finished first in the timed final of the 100-meter hurdles. Running in the fourth and final heat of the event, she posted a season-best time of 13.27 to secure her first title of the outdoor season. Zimlich had a victory of her own, clearing 3.88m/12-8.75 to win the open section of the pole vault. The mark for Zimlich is an outdoor personal best. She had a clearance of 12-9.5 during the indoor season.
     
    Arkansas opened the night session of the meet with a first-place performance in the 4x100-meter relay. The team of Gwendolyn Flowers, Regina George, McKnight and Tamara Myers combined to pass the baton around the track in a time of 44.65. McKnight returned to the track for a win in the premiere section of the 400 meters. Based on times entering the weekend, her winning time of 52.17 is the new NCAA leader.
     
    In addition to the team’s wins Saturday, Arkansas collected a pair of runner-up individual finishes from Kirsten Hesseltine in the high jump and Tamara Myers in the triple jump. For the third time in as many outdoor competitions this season, Hesseltine had a final clearance of 1.75m/5-8.75. In the triple jump, Myers got out to a day’s mark of 12.55m/41-2.25. The 4x400-meter relay team also had a second-place finish, posting a time of 3:37.22 in the final event of the night.
     
    Arkansas’ efforts were also bolstered by six personal-best showings. The Razorbacks’ list of personal-best showings came from Kemp at100 (11.80) and 200 meters (24.44), Caitlin Noonan at 800 meters (2:15.54), Flowers in the 400-meter hurdles (58.74), Danielle Nowell in the pole vault (4.11m/13-5.75) and Myers in the long jump (6.08m/19-8.25).
     
    Next weekend, the Razorbacks are set to have their first full home competition of the outdoor season with the John McDonnell Invitational. The one-day event is scheduled for Saturday, April 13 at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville. Field events will start at 9 a.m. (CT) with running events—all finals—beginning at 5 p.m. The northwest gate will serve as the entrance for fans and spectators.

    For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Arkansas cross country and track and field through the team’s sport-specific RazorbackTF Facebook and Twitter pages.



    UK Wraps Up Bellarmine Invite

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A pair of Wildcats finished second in separate vertical jump events to highlight the Kentucky track and field team’s performance on Saturday at the Bellarmine Invitational.
     
    Joanne Imbert placed second in the high jump with an outdoor season-high clearance of 1.72 meters/ 5’07.75”.
     
    Michelle Canterna finished as the runner-up in the pole vault, with a top clearance of 3.80 meters’05.5”.
     
    Shelby Kennard cleared 3.5 meters/ 11’05.75m, tying her outdoor season-high pole vault, before being unable to get over the bar at 3.65 meters /11’11.75”.
     
    Christina Heilman posted her career-best 110-meter hurdles time as she crossed the finish line in 15.39 to place eighth. Patrice Farquharson finished the same event in 16.74. Heilman posted a career-best long jump mark of 4.88 meters/ 16’00.25”.
     
    Ryan Ratliff cleared the high jump bar at an outdoor-season best 1.95 meters/ 6’05.75” on the first try before going out of the competition at 2 meters/6’06.75”, for eight-place.
     
    The Wildcats host the first collegiate meet on Kentucky’s Lexington campus in more than a decade later in April. 
     
    The Heart of the Bluegrass Classic will be the inaugural meet at the new UK Outdoor Track and Field Complex when it is held April 19-20.