Texas A&M’s track and field team showed out this weekend at the Texas Tech Invitational, the team’s first road meet of the 2020-2021 indoor season. Throughout Friday and Saturday, A&M accumulated 14 NCAA top 20 marks and 12 Aggie all-time top 12 marks.
Senior Tyra Gittens led the NCAA in the pentathlon last season and kicked off this season by winning four of the five events in her pentathlon debut on Friday.
Gittens won the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8:33, a personal best, then set a school record in the high jump by clearing 1.91-meters, an NCAA-leading clearance. Gittens’ success continued with shot put and long jump victories, 12.94-meters and 6.58-meters respectively, before concluding the event with the 800-meter, in which she clocked 2:30.86.
Gittens’ pentathlon performance accumulated 4,612 points, making her the third-best performer in collegiate history.
A&M coach Pat Henry praised Gittens for her effort this weekend and her pentathlon performance, specifically.
“What a fantastic day for Tyra and she’s been working really hard. Besides the terrific high jump and great long jump, it was the first time I’ve seen her that aggressive running the 800-meter…” Henry told 12thman.com. “Today she was aggressive and that is a great change for her.”
The maroon and white broke records and scored well in open events, as well. Sophomore Charokee Young and senior Bryce Deadmon took first in the 400-meter with Deadmon’s time of 45.29 making him the fourth best indoor performer in A&M history and setting an NCAA record.
Young’s first-place 400-meter finish with a time of 52.64 was the second fastest time in the NCAA this season and led the way for Aggies Syaira Richardson and Jania Martin following closely behind to clinch second and third place, respectively.
Young and Martin reaped more success on Saturday as they contributed to the Aggies’ 4x400-meter win and Sports Performance Center facility record with a time of 3:31.09. Martin was the lead-off runner, followed by Young, Dominique Mustin and Athing Mu. Mu, a freshman, clocked the fastest time with 50.03, guaranteeing the first-place finish.
“Overall, we had some really good things happen today,” Henry told 12thman.com. “Our women’s 4x400-meter team ran fast, it was a facility record and we finished five seconds ahead of the field so I’m pleased with that effort.”
Martin was also successful in the 200-meter on Saturday as she earned second with a new personal best of 23.65, ranked 20th in the NCAA. A&M sweeped the event with freshman Laila Owens placing first with 23.47 and sophomore Immanuela Aliu coming in third with 23.78.
Additionally, Ailu recorded a 60-meter second place finish followed by junior Rachel Hall in fifth.
A&M sophomore hurdler Connor Schulman recorded a time of 7.80 in the 60-meter hurdles which was enough to earn his fifth victory in the event this season.
“Connor is doing a great job, to run 7.80 today is putting him into elite competition,” Henry told 12thman.com. “Today he had a poor start in the finals and really competed well to get back in the race to win it and he ran the exact same time that he did in prelims, that’s a great thing for a hurdler when you start running consistent.”
Brandon Miller, Allon Clay and Mustin all recorded personal bests in the 800-meter on Friday, a solid start to the freshmen’s first indoor season.
Mustin’s second-place finish is now the 13th best time in the country and seventh best in A&M history. Meanwhile, Miller’s victory marked the sixth fastest time in the NCAA and put him at 10th on A&M’s all-time performer list. Clay finished fourth overall and is listed as the ninth fastest in NCAA history.
As for field events, senior Deborah Acquah took second in the triple jump. Her 13.75-meter jump was just shy of the school record she set last season and is the second-highest in the NCAA.
On Saturday, Acquah earned first in the long jump with a 6.62-meter jump on her first attempt. This jump is the second best in A&M history, only behind her personal best of 6.65-meters.
Zhane Smith also had a great long jump showing as he placed second with a jump of 6.30-meters. Smith ranks sixth on A&M’s all-time list and tenth in the NCAA.
A&M senior Josh Brown also had a great weekend as he recorded 20.56-meter in the weight throw, marking the third consecutive week he improved his personal best.
“Josh [Brown] is throwing consistent,” Henry told 12thman.com. “He’s getting a little bit better at things and you can’t ask for anything more than that. Overall, it was a fun day and he did some things really well.”
The Aggies had an impressive showing this weekend as they faced their first opponents of the indoor season. A&M recorded 14 NCAA top 20 marks and 12 Aggie all-time top 12 marks throughout the two-day meet.
The maroon and white will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 6 as they host the Charlie Thomas Invitational at their home facility. The meet is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at Gilliam Indoor Stadium and a limited number of spectators will be permitted.