Aggies win NCAA titles
Texas A&M became the first school to win the men's and women's NCAA team titles in the same year since 1990 at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The championships concluded on Saturday.
As the anchor runner in the men's 1,600m relay, the Aggies' Justin Oliver held on to second place to give A&M the outright men's team title. "When it got to the 300 mark and I saw I was still second place, I see the finish line, I see the trophy at the finish line waiting on me," Oliver told the Associated Press. "We're the national champions. Texas A&M. No one else. That's all I could say. We did it."
The Aggies tallied 48 points in winning the men's crown. Had the Aggies finished third in the 4x400m relay, there would have been a four-way tie for the title with Florida, Florida State and Oregon, each with 46 points.
The Texas A&M women's team was victorious with a seven-point margin over Oregon. Arizona State was third with 41 points and Florida State was fourth with 40.The Aggies won the men's title without a single individual champion the entire week. On the women's side, Texas A&M's Porscha Lucas won the 200m in 22.81 Saturday, a day after contributing to a relay win.
Aggies Coach Pat Henry is in his fifth year at College Station after winning 27 NCAA team championships while coaching both men and women at LSU. He was the last coach to sweep the men's and women's outdoor titles, at LSU in 1990.
"This one is something we've been working very hard to do," Henry said. "This one is very, very special to me because it's a new one. It's a new championship."
In addition to their runner-up finishes in the team competition, Oregon produced six individual championships: Galen Rupp in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, Rachel Yurkovich in the javelin, Ashton Eaton in the decathlon, Brianne Theisen in the heptathlon and Andrew Wheating in the 800 meters.
For more information on the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships, visit: NCAA.com.
Southern University coach Johnny Thomas dies
Longtime Southern University men's and women's track and cross country coach Johnny Thomas, who amassed 45 SWAC Championships during his career, succumbed from a two-year battle with prostate cancer on Friday, June 12.
Born in 1940 in Baton Rouge, La., and graduated from McKinley Sr. High School in 1959, Thomas, a Southern University alum, received his B.A. in 1963 and received his masters degree in 1973 from SU.
Thomas was his high school's record holder in the 100, 220 and 440 yard dashes, and upon his graduation from McKinley, earned a scholarship in track & field to Southern University.
Thomas started his coaching career in 1978 as a volunteer coach that lasted until 1984. In 1987 he was named head track & field coach at SU. He moved the women's program through the transition from NAIA to AIAW and on to the NCAA in 1982.
Thomas was also the creator of the Track Club for Girls and later the Baton Rouge Express Track Club for ages 7-18. He is also the only African-American to win Louisiana State Singles Championship in Bowling, in addition to publishing an article in Coaches Magazine on hurdling.
Thomas was inducted into the Southern University Sports Hall of Fame and the Southwestern Athletic Conference Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
He is survived by his wife of many years, Lula, along with one son, Johnny Thomas, Jr. of Baton Rouge and his brother, Donald Thomas of Baton Rouge.
McNees revives track & field career
USATF Chief Operating Officer Mike McNees enjoyed a successful and somewhat painful return to track and field competition over the weekend at the 2009 USATF Indiana Association Open & Masters Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Competing in the Masters 50-54 division (as the only in-state entrant), McNees won the men's 200m in his age-group despite pulling a hamstring with 30 yards remaining. He jogged to the finish in 29.53 seconds. Not bad for a guy competing in his first track meet in 21 years.
The principal USATF staff coordinator and advocate to the Masters Community, McNees is thrilled to be competing again. "USATF Masters events give old track and field athletes like me the chance to compete again, and it's a lot of fun," said McNees. "The most important thing is to get out there and enjoy competing and seeing what you can do. I look forward to competing much more in the future."
For more information on USATF Masters Track & Field and Running events, visit: USATF.org.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.
For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.