COLLEGE STATION, Texas — An opening night like none other, the Texas A&M track and field teams’ performances showed why they were eager to get back on the oval after a 322 day delay. The Aggies set two world leading times and one school record, while claiming multiple event titles Saturday at the Ted Nelson Invitational at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium.
"You could see it in everyone's eyes this last week,” said head coach Pat Henry. “Their level of excitement knowing we had something coming, that it is going to be fun and it's why we do what we do. They all looked forward to Saturday this past week and you can see it, they're ready to go next week too, right now. That's the kind of team we want and this is one of those teams that has a lot of top mature talent and then we got some young talent that will blossom and can be really good.”
Senior Bryce Deadmon and freshman Athing Mu started the 2021 season on the right foot, they each recorded world-leading times in their respective events. Deadmon led the country in the 400m last season and didn’t skip a beat, winning the 400m with a time of 45.68. Deadmon’s time also broke an 11-year old meet record set by Demetrius Pinder at 46.01.
Despite a limited capacity stadium, Mu got all 438 spectators on their feet by winning the 800m with an astonishing time of 2:01.07. Her time is currently a world-leading mark and is the fifth-fastest performance in collegiate indoor history. In the Aggie record books it ranks No. 2 on the all-time indoor list behind Jazmine Fray’s collegiate record time of 2:00.69.
Picking right back up where she left off from the 2020 season, Tyra Gittens was at it turning heads when she set the Aggie school record in the long jump landing at 6.62m/21-8.75 on her first attempt. The mark set the Trinidad and Tobago national indoor record and is currently ranked No. 2 in the world. Gittens now holds school records in the indoor long jump, high jump and pentathlon.
“Long jump and I have always had a weird relationship,” said Gittens. “Anytime I think too hard, try to run fast and force it, that’s when I jump like my second attempt today. I just wanted to execute a good approach and that’s really all that was on my mind. When I went down the runway and I realized I was in the perfect position, I just took advantage of it.”
Deborah Acquah finished runner-up in the long jump with a leap of 6.54m/21-5.5, 1.25 inches off her personal best.
A little more than an hour after winning her first event, Gittens was right back at it competing in high jump. Gittens passed on the first three opening heights and cleared the next four heights on her first attempts before failing to clear 1.86m/6-1.25. The multi-athlete claimed her second event title of the day with a clearance of 1.83m/6-0.
Gittens and Deadmon weren’t the only upperclassmen to make noise. Josh Brown, a distance throwing specialist, showed his versatility and led the Aggies in a sweep of the weight throw with a personal best mark of 19.91m/65-4. K.J. Grimes followed in second at 17.31m/56-9.5 and Pablo Zolezzi placed third with a toss of 16.31m/53-6.25.
“Josh [Brown] is a success story of Coach De La Garza’s,” said Henry. “He is a great kid and has worked hard for four years, he’s going to find more success this season.”
Weight throw wasn’t the only event the Maroon & White swept, the Aggies swept the women’s 200m, 400m and the men’s mile placed Aggies in the top five spots. A&M also finished 1-2 in the women’s 60m, 60m hurdles, 800m and long jump. The men went 1-2 in the long jump and 800m.
Other notable performances include, Connor Schulman winning the men’s 60m hurdle with a time of 7.94. Schulman clocked a personal best time of 7.85 in the prelims, which ranks No. 6 on the Aggie all-time list. Charokee Young put her name on the all-time list in the 400m (53.08) at No. 10 and Dominique Mustin clocked a 2:09.65 800m run which is No. 12 all-time.
Texas A&M returns to the oval on Saturday, Jan. 23 to host the Aggie Invitational at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium.