WACO – Running his first 400m this outdoor season, Texas A&M senior Fred Kerley produced an impressive time of 44.60 seconds for the victory, breaking the meet record amid windy conditions in front of 1,852 fans at the Michael Johnson Invitational on Saturday.
“This was a tough environment today, winds were tough and it was pretty cold,” said Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. “Fred’s run at 44.60 was outstanding. It’s one of the best 400s I’ve seen run in a long time, especially when you consider the conditions he ran under.”
Kerley’s time bettered the meet record of 45.14 set by fellow Aggie Deon Lendore in 2015. Finishing behind Kerley were a pair of Baylor sprinters, Wil London (45.78) and George Caddick (46.13), as well as a pair of Red Raiders, Kyle Collins (46.20) and Steven Champlin (46.32).
“I’m blessed with the time, but there is still room to improve,” noted Kerley. “This 44.60 felt harder than any other 400 I’ve ever ran.”
Kerley is currently second fastest in the world at 400m this season as well as the current U.S. and collegiate leader. His previous best outdoor time was 45.10 from last season. Indoors, though, Kerley ran 44.85 in winning the NCAA Indoor title.
On the Aggie all-time list Kerley is now the No. 2 performer with the No. 3 performance. The only marks ahead of him are the school record of 44.36 and a 44.41, both times recorded by Lendore in winning the 2014 and 2015 SEC titles.
The win by Kerley was one of 14 generated by the Aggies, 10 of which came on the men’s side.
Early in the meet Kerley ran second leg of the 4x100 relay that won in 39.22 ahead of TCU’s 39.35. Will Williams lead off the relay for Texas A&M while Elijah Morrow and Jace Comick handled the final two legs.
A career best throw of 192-5 (58.65) by Jeff Bartlett claimed the discus title by 11-plus feet, which improved his No. 9 position on the Aggie all-time list.
Alison Ondrusek bettered the hammer field by 20-plus feet with a toss that measured 201-4 (61.36). That mark equaled the previous school record set by Brea Garrett in 2014 and is now the fourth best performance on the Aggie list behind the school record of 208-0 established by Ondrusek this season.
The women’s 400m provided a solid field with NCAA Indoor champion Shakima Wimbley of Miami favored. She finished third in 53.46 as Baylor’s Leticia De Souza won in 52.74 with Aggie freshman Jaevin Reed runner-up with a 53.11.
Devin Dixon ran 1:48.27 to claim the 800m over Baylor’s Zacharias Curran (1:48.60) as Texas A&M teammates followed in third and fourth place with JaQwae Ellison (1:50.78) and Gaines Kinsey (1:52.24). In the women’s 800m, Katie Willard led the field for most of the race but finished second with a 2:08.36 behind the 2:07.80 for SMU’s Holly Archer. Brittany Parker (2:11.23) and Miah Nelson (2:12.36) finished fifth and eighth for the Aggies.
Kelsie Warren won the 5,000m race in 16:57.38, which is No. 13 on the Aggie all-time list, to defeat SMU’s Shanoah Souza (17:07.77). Lauryn Barrientos placed sixth in 17:27.50 and was followed by Ashley Driscoll (17:32.86) and Olivia Arriaza (17:34.53) in seventh and eighth place.
Jacob Perry made it an Aggie sweep by winning the men’s 5,000m in 14:34.04 with Eli Canal placing sixth in 14:52.76.
Texas A&M also won both races in the 3,000m steeplechase. Amelia McElhinney led a majority of the women’s race, but was in second place when the field thought the race was complete. When the entrants decided to complete one more lap, McElhinney had the lead and the win in 11:48.89.
Aggie Sam Erickson was the collegiate winner of the men’s steeplechase in 9:45.85, but Raymond Gonzales, a Texas A&M athlete competing unattached, finished in 9:40.02.
Amid a windy morning and afternoon session the Aggies had victories from Will Williams (23-4 ½w) in the long jump, Katie Watson (4:37.35) in the 1,500m, Elijah Morrow (10.45w) in the 100m, Jace Comick (21.61w) in the 200m.
Both 4x400 relays had Texas A&M placing second to Baylor. In the women’s race the Bears ran 3:36.85 as the Aggies clocked 3:40.76 with the foursome of Jarra Owens, Diamond Spaulding, Glorilisha Carter and Kadecia Baird.
The Baylor men posted a 3:04.98 ahead of a 3:05.16 for the Aggies, who ran with a line-up of Ilolo Izu, Robert Grant, Richard Rose and Mylik Kerley. Texas Tech finished third in 3:05.80.
Izu earlier won the 400m hurdles in 52.56 with teammate Infinite Tucker runner-up at 52.97. In the 110m hurdles Tyler Guillory ran 14.45w as runner-up.
A surprising runner-up finish for Chinyere Njoku in the 100m hurdles produced a time of 13.47w (2.2 wind) behind the winning time of 13.01w by Miami’s Ebony Morrison. Lauren Lawless ran 13.96w (3.1) to place ninth overall.
Runner-up efforts also included Briyahna Desrosiers (23.70w) in the 200m and Jon Bishop (3:54.03) in the 1,500. Jacob Wooten and Audie Wyatt tied for second in the pole vault as each cleared 17-3.
Garrett Cragin finished in a four-way tie for third place in the high jump at 6-8. A throw of 147-6 placed Christine Brigman third in the javelin. Austin Cook hit a mark of 204-4 (62.28) to finish fourth in the hammer.
All three Texas A&M vaulters cleared 13-3 ¾ (4.06) in the women’s pole vault as they finished 4-5-6 with Augusta Thomason, Emily Gunderson and Sara Kathryn Stevens. Thomason moved to No. 5 on the Aggie all-time list. Celine Markert improved her position at No. 10 on the school’s all-time list in the shot put with a 47-6 ¼ (14.48) effort that placed sixth.