COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M produced a pair of silver medal performances from Audie Wyatt in the pole vault and Will Williams in the long jump on the opening day of the NCAA Indoor Championships at Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
In front of a crowd of 3,598 fans, the Aggie men scored 16 points from the two events and Texas A&M is currently in second place behind the 17 points for Oregon. That production puts the Aggies in strong contention for a top three team finish.
As action continues on Saturday, with the Lindon Victor continuing the heptathlon at noon, and field events beginning at 2 p.m., the running finals take stage from 4 to 6:45 p.m. The evening will be capped with the men’s 4x400 relay where Texas A&M currently holds the collegiate record.
Wyatt cleared 18-2 ½ (5.55) as he bettered his indoor school record of 18-1 he had set in winning the SEC Indoor in 2016. South Dakota’s Chris Nilsen, a freshman, won the event with a clearance of 18-8 ½ (5.70) earning the first NCAA Division I title for his school.
“It means quite a bit, but it doesn’t satisfy my hunger,” said Wyatt. “I’m very ready to jump really high outdoors and I was really hoping to do that today, but I will take my second place. It just brings me closer to my goal of winning outdoor NCAAs.”
A total of four vaulters cleared 18 feet in the competition as Akron’s Matthew Ludwig and Tim Ernhardt of Michigan State both made it over 18-0 ½ (5.50) in placing third and fourth.
Wyatt made first attempt clearances at 17-6 ½ (5.35), 17-10 ½ (5.45), 18-0 ½ (5.50), and even cleared his school record attempt on his first try. After two misses at 18-4 ½ (5.60), Wyatt passed to 18-6 ½ (5.65) and missed on his remaining attempt.
“I’m just really excited, it’s like bittersweet and I was really hoping to win for the home crowd,” said Wyatt. “I came close, but finished second. I’m happy since it’s the best I have done all year.”
Williams set a career best indoors with a leap of 25-10 ¾ (7.89) in the long jump, which is equal to No. 3 performer and the No. 5 performer on the Aggie all-time list. SEC foe KeAndre Bates of Florida won the long jump with an effort of 26-4 ½ (8.04) while Steffin McCarter of Texas placed third at 25-8 ¼ (7.83).
Williams opened with a foul, then reached a mark of 25-8 (7.82) in the second round and improved to 25-9 ½ (7.86) to match his previous PR in the third stanza. Williams improved his hold on second place in the final round with his 25-10 ¾ effort.
Through the first day of the heptathlon, Lindon Victor is currently in second place at 3,508 points. He trails the leader, Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth (3,594), by 86 points. Following those two are SEC champ Devon Williams of Georgia in third place with 3,435 points.
Victor set a NCAA Indoor meet record in the shot put with a 54-3 ¾ (16.55) performance for 885 points, which moved him into fourth from eighth place at that stage of the event. It bettered the previous mark of 53-0 ¼ (16.16) which was set by Maurice Smith (Aub) in 2005.
In the 60m, Victor ran 6.99 for 886 points and had a mark of 23-8 ¾ (7.23) in the long jump for 869 points. Closing out the first day with the high jump, Victor cleared 6-9 ½ (2.07) for 868 points.
Fred Kerley and Mylik Kerley finished first and third in the first heat of the men’s 400m prelim and ended up with two of the three fastest times in qualifying for the final. Fred, starting in lane 3, ran 45.11 seconds to win the heat as Mylik set a career best of 45.68 in third. Florida’s Kunle Fasasi was second fastest in the race and overall with a 45.57.
This marks the fourth time since 1996 that Texas A&M has advanced two runners to the men’s 400 finals.
The Texas A&M women advanced two runners in prelim races as collegiate record holder Jazmine Fray moved on in the 800m and Diamond Spaulding was the final qualifier in the 200m.
Earning an automatic qualifying into the final, Fray led her heat of the 800m through 600m (1:33.58) with Hanna Green of Virginia Tech (1:33.67) a stride behind. Green finished in 2:04.06 as she covered the final 200m in 30.39 while Fray ran 2:04.40 went 30.82 over the last lap. Fray’s time is the third fastest performance on the Aggie all-time list.
Spaulding ran a career best of 22.94 in finishing third in her heat while Danyel White placed fourth in a career best of 23.00. Spaulding was eighth overall and reached the final while White was ninth and just missed the final field.
The 22.94 for Spaulding ranks her equal fifth on the Texas A&M all-time list with Simone Facey while the 23.00 for White ranks her eighth.