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A&M men's track team earns national championship tie with Florida; Aggie women finish second

A&M men's track team earns national championship tie with Florida; Aggie women finish second

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EUGENE, Ore. -- Texas A&M's men dropped the baton but scooped it up in time to grab a piece of the team trophy.

The Aggies earned a share of their fourth national championship in five years at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, surging into the team lead Saturday at Hayward Field where the Florida Gators caught them in the last event.

A&M's women, meanwhile, took second behind Kansas. The Jayhawks won the national championship with 60 points to A&M's 44, while Oregon finished third at 43.

The Aggie men worked hard to get into fifth place on Friday then made it pay off by surging into the team lead thanks to three individual victories Saturday.

But a botched handoff in the men's 1,600-meter relay cost the Aggies the outright championship. Leadoff runner Ricky Babineaux apparently dropped the baton while trying to move it to his passing hand. Babineaux quickly scrambled to pick it up and get it to Aldrich Bailey Jr., which kept A&M from getting disqualified.

"It was a smart move by Ricky," A&M coach Pat Henry told the Eugene Register-Guard.

By finishing the race, the Aggies scored one point -- enough to tie Florida, which won the relay in 3 minutes, 1.34 seconds.

"I just told the guys let's go win the relay," Florida coach Mike Holloway said. "We don't see it as Texas A&M dropping the baton. We see it as we didn't drop it."

A&M and Florida tied for the sports' first split national championship since 1978. They also continued their recent dominance at the NCAA outdoor meet. Florida won its second straight men's team title, and the Gators and Aggies have combined for six national titles over the last five years.

A&M and Florida each had 53 points with Arkansas third at 46.5.

"It always seems to come down the end, and you have to be perfect all the way through," Henry said. "We weren't perfect today, but we had some perfect things happen to get us to here."

Indeed, the Aggies vaulted into the team lead thanks to victories in the javelin, 110 hurdles and 200.

A&M senior Ameer Webb won the men's 200 in a wind-aided 20.10. He was runner-up in the event last year and won it at this year's indoor championships.

A&M junior Wayne Davis II won the 110 hurdle title in a wind-aided 13:14 and senior Sam Humphreys won the javelin at 255-9.

"We're elated for our team," Henry said. "We win the javelin, hurdles and 200 today. Our team was on a roll and doing some things really well.

"It's just tough that we don't look the baton in and something happens on the first exchange of the 4x400. That's the way it is with track and field. You have to everything right, and it certainly has to be right when it comes to that relay."

A&M's women won the 400 relay in 42.88. Kamaria Brown also took second in the 200 in a wind-aided 22.21, and she anchored the Aggie women's 1,600 relay team to second-place finish.

Donique Flemings also scored for A&M's women by taking third in the 110 hurdles (12.85).

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