The Texas A&M track and field team will have its first home indoor meet of the season this weekend, hosting the Ted Nelson Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Track & Field Stadium.
“A lot of this is about where are we right now,” A&M head coach Pat Henry said.
A&M finished second at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships last season, while the Aggie men were 31st at the indoor meet and sixth in the outdoor meet.
“We have a pretty normal group of seniors and freshmen,” Henry said. “I think we have a good freshman group. We have one [junior college] person on the men’s side. We have some veterans and we have some people who have been in the competition at this level and we have some who haven’t been in the competition at this level yet. We want that kind of balance, and we’re pretty well balanced each year. I don’t want to have a big senior class any one year.”
The women have to replace Olympian Athing Mu, who turned professional after one season. Topping the returners is super senior multi-performer Tyra Gittens, who was named to The Bowerman preseason watch list. Other returners include graduate Jaevin Reed (4x400), super seniors Deborah Acquah (jumps) and Syaira Richardson (4x400), senior Jania Martin (4x400), juniors Tierra Robinson-Jones (4x400) and Charokee Young (4x400) and sophomores Lamara Distin (high jump) and Laila Owens (sprints). A&M’s newcomers on the women’s side include freshmen Bailey Goggans (800), Heather Abadie (pole vault) and Kennedy Wade (sprints). Avi’Tal Wilson-Perteete is a transfer from UNLV who was third in the 800 at the 2019 NCAA outdoor meet.
A&M’s men are led by sophomore Brandon Miller (800) who also made The Bowerman preseason watch list. Other returners include sophomores Devon Achane (sprints) and Omajuwa Etiwe (400) and senior Moitalel Mpoke (400, 800). Newcomers include freshmen Bryce Foster (throws) and Sam Whitmarsh (800).
“This meet is about finding a few new people,” Henry said. “We know who our good ones are. Let’s see what some of our young ones are able to do.”
It will be the first of three regular-season meets on campus. A&M also will host the Texas Aggie Invitational on Jan. 22 and the Charlie Thomas Invitational on Feb. 4-5. A&M also will host the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 25-26, while the NCAA Indoor Championships will be March 11-12 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Foster, who started every game at center for the football team as a true freshman, is following in the footsteps of Achane, who as a freshman last year earned a trio of All-America honors after playing football. At Katy Taylor last year, Foster won the Class 6A shot put (71 feet, 1 inch) and was third in the discus (191-1).
“You got to give those guys time to get their feet on the ground and get ready to go,” Henry said of his football players.
Friday’s action will start at noon and end at approximately 6:45 p.m. Saturday’s action will start at noon and end at approximately 5:45 p.m. The Aggies will compete Saturday.
Friday’s field will include Barton County Community College, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Lamar, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, Prairie View A&M, St. Edwards, Southern, Tarleton State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Texas Southern, University of the Southwest, Texas-Rio Grande Valley and Western Texas College.
Abilene Christian, Arizona State, Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas, Northwestern State, Sam Houston State, SMU (women), Stephen F. Austin, Texas-Arlington and Texas-San Antonio will compete Saturday with A&M.