Gerald Phiri sets year's fastest 100 time
AUSTIN, Texas -- When his teammates dropped a baton to cost Texas A&M a much-wanted relay victory, Gerald Phiri gave them an earful.
Then he picked up his entire team with a record-setting 100 meters to highlight another dominating performance by the Aggies men's and women's teams at the 84th annual Texas Relays.
Phiri, a senior, broke a 35-year-old meet record in the 100, blowing past the field to win in 10.06 seconds on Saturday. Phiri said he was "running angry" and shook off the pain of a slightly torn muscle behind his right knee to squeak past the previous record of 10.07 set by Ed Preston of Arkansas State in 1976.
"When it comes to 25 thousand people watching, I don't care. I'm going to run," said Phiri, selected the meet's most outstanding male athlete. "I've been chasing the record since my freshman year and I never stopped believing I could run that fast."
Phiri won the Texas Relays in 10.17 last season before finishing fourth in the NCAA championships. On Saturday, he beat a mark that had withstood challenges from some of the greatest sprinters in track over the last three decades, such as Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene.
A strong breeze blew all day Saturday and wiped out several good times. It died down just long enough for Phiri's time to be legal for the record.
"When I saw that, I said, 'Let's get money!'" Phiri joked.
A few hours earlier, Phiri had pulled aside a couple of his freshman teammates after a dropped baton on the last exchange cost the Aggies a coveted win in the 800 relay, a race where Phiri said the Aggies were gunning for the NCAA record. The flub dropped them back to fourth as LSU pulled away to the win.
"We just had to regroup," Phiri said. "I had to get them focused and tell them what was at stake."
The scolding certainly helped. About two hours after the drop, the Aggies came back to edge LSU in the 400 relay. Freshman Prezel Hardy Jr., who dropped the baton in the earlier race, was on the receiving end of the final exchange and had no problems. Phiri ran the second leg.
"It's about maturity," Hardy said. "I wanted to redeem myself."
I've been chasing the record since my freshman year and I never stopped believing I could run that fast.” -- Texas A&M's Gerald Phiri
Texas A&M won four men's relays over the four-day meet, the first team to do that since Arkansas in 1985. Texas A&M's Jeneba Tarmoh won the women's 100 with a wind-aided 10.94.
"I was trying to be aggressive and push the whole way," Tarmoh said.
The day wasn't a clean sweep for Texas A&M as the Aggies and LSU traded wins over the entire day.
The LSU women broke Texas A&M's three-year stranglehold on the 800 relay, winning in 1:30.88, as the Aggies finished second. LSU's Barrett Nugent won the men's 110-hurdles in a wind-aided 13.19 seconds.
Texas A&M's Julien Reed, the 2009 triple jump winner, reclaimed his title with a jump of 54 feet, 8¾ inches with LSU's Zedric Thomas finishing second.
Texas junior Angele Cooper defended her title in the women's 400 hurdles, dominating the field in 57.19. Texas Tech's Bryce Brown won the men's 400 hurdles in 50.08, edging teammate Jamele Mason.
Arkansas' Tina Sutej set won the women's pole vault by tying the Texas Relays record of 14-9 first set by UCLA's Chelsea Johnson in 2004.
Kimberly Williams of Florida State won the women's triple jump with a wind-aided leap of 46-9. She also set a Texas Relays record with a wind-legal jump of 46-1¼.
Kansas State's Erik Kynard won the men's high jump at 7-5¾.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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