COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor defended his SEC Championship decathlon title by breaking his own collegiate record with a score of 8,539 points on Friday at Cregger Track during the second day of the conference meet.
“It’s always a good thing when you win and break a collegiate record,” said Victor. “I still think there is a lot to improve upon in the decathlon. I’m still disappointed in some of my events and really happy in others. It’s typical of the decathlon, though, to up and down. It’s all about having a level head and refocusing every time.”
Later in the evening Aggie sprinter Fred Kerley broke the SEC Championship record in the prelims of the 400m with a time of 44.09, the second fastest time by a collegian ever. Kerley’s impressive run bettered the SEC meet record of 44.29 set in 1999 by LSU’s Derrick Brew.
Kerley also broke the Texas A&M school record of 44.36 set by Deon Lendore in winning the 2014 SEC title. The collegiate record is 44.00 set in 1992 by USC’s Quincy Watts. Currently, that is the only collegiate time faster than Fred’s performance.
“I still have to produce tomorrow, that is the one that will count,” noted Kerley. “The race felt very smooth. Now, I just need to prepare for tomorrow’s final.”
Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry added: “This was a day of big performances. Lindon had a huge performance and Fred at 44.09, you can’t say much more. I think both are capable of doing even more, they’re going to get even better.”
In the process of Victor improving his previous collegiate record and the 2017 world-leading score by 67 points, Victor scored 4,174 on the second day to produce a collegiate best. Victor bettered the previous standard of 4,145 points on the second day of a decathlon set in the 2007 NCAA meet by Arizona’s Jake Arnold.
During his Texas Relays victory in March, when Victor set a collegiate record with 8,472 points, he established the best collegiate first day score with a tally of 4,516 points that bettered the previous mark of 4,500 set by Ashton Eaton at the 2010 NCAA meet.
“It shows my versatility,” noted Victor. “If I have a bad first day, I know I can come back and have a good second day. Now it’s a matter of putting both of them together. It you add together my best two days, then I have a score of 8,690.
“Nationals is going to be a lot harder than this. There are some really good guys in the NCAA and I’m not going to take my competition lightly. I think there are three or four guys who could break this collegiate record. So, it’s going to be really fun competing against these guys.”
Victor was the lone decathlon to surpass 8,000 points in the competition. Georgia’s Karl Saluri placed second with 7,948 points as South Carolina’s Markus Leemet scored 7,720 in third place.
After scoring 4,365 points on day one, Victor opened the second day with a career best in the 110m hurdles, clocking 14.45 (1.8 wind) for 917 points.
In the discus Victor established another collegiate best in the decathlon as he hurled the discus 181 feet, 2 inches (55.22) for 980 points. Victor had set the collegiate best of 179-0 (54.56) during the 2016 SEC decathlon. The second best discus toss in the meet was 143-9 (43.83).
Moving onto the pole vault, Victor needed a third attempt to clear 15-5 (4.70) as he secured 819 points with the effort. After eight of the 10 events, Victor’s score of 7,081 was 74 points ahead of the 7,008 he had during his Texas Relays performance.
Victor bettered the field in his fourth consecutive event on the second day when he claimed the javelin with a throw of 226-3 (68.97) for 874 points. The next best effort was a 193-8 (59.03). Victor’s nine-event score reached 7,955 points, which was 108 points ahead of his Texas Relays effort (7,847) at that stage.
Closing out his decathlon victory with the 1,500m, Victor clocked 4:55.91 for 584 points to secure his second SEC title and another collegiate record.
When Victor set the collegiate record at the Texas Relays he was asked how long he thought his record would last since the previous standard set by Trey Hardee of Texas had lasted 11 years. Victor quipped: “I don’t think my record will last as long as Trey’s did. I think it will only last a few months, until I do my next one.”
Victor proved to be accurate on his prediction as he generated his fourth score over 8,300 points in the past two seasons. In addition to the collegiate record, Victor also improved his national record for Grenada as well as the Texas A&M school record.
On the all-time collegiate list, Victor now has the Nos. 1, 2, 6, and 7 performances. He also moves to No. 3 on the Central American and Caribbean all-time list.
Kerley, meanwhile, is currently No. 2 on the all-time collegiate list, equal No. 11 on the U.S. all-time list and equal No. 17 on the all-time world list. His performance in the prelims, though, is the top collegiate time ever produced in a qualifying round and seventh-best in the world.
“Fred is a special guy,” noted Henry, who coached the previous SEC meet record holder Brew at LSU. “If he has a good day tomorrow, with good competition, I think he might even run a little faster. Fred is on a roll right now and looks really good. He’s healthy and feels good about what he is doing.”
Finals on the second day of the SEC Championships included Garrett Cragin placing fourth in the high jump as he cleared 7-0 ½ (2.15). He nearly cleared 7-2 ¼ (2.19) on a third attempt. The winning height was 7-4 ½ (2.25) by Georgia’s Keenon Laine.
Ashton Hutcherson ran the second fastest time in school history to place eighth in the 3,000m steeplechase final. Her time of 10:31.78 was just shy of the 10:29.53 Aggie record set in 2007 by Sarah Ravenelle.
Shaina Burns completed the heptathlon with 5,336 points to place eighth. Her score was four points better than her best tally as an Aggie and remains No. 8 on the Texas A&M all-time list.
Qualifying went very well for the Aggies as they advanced eight athletes in four more events for Saturday’s finals.
Alex Riba posted the second fastest time in the 1,500m prelims as his 3:46.36 was runner-up to a 3:46.14 by Craig Engels of Mississippi. Mylik Kerley won his heat of the 400m in 45.72 to join his brother Fred in the final.
The Aggie women advanced three in the 400m with Jaevin Reed leading the way with a 52.71 heat victory. Briyahna Desrosiers (52.86) and Kadecia Baird (53.36) also advanced. In the 100m, Brenessa Thompson (11.25) and Aaliyah Brown (11.29) reached the finals.