EUGENE - Before last year, Texas A&M had never won an NCAA team title. Now, the Aggies can boast back-to-back championships for both their men and women.
The men wrapped up the NCAA outdoor track and field championships Saturday with a crucial victory in the 1,600-meter relay and held off Florida to repeat, while the women were boosted by a 1-2 finish in the 200 meters.
"This is big for our program," coach Pat Henry said. "It shows consistency in what we're doing and that's the most important thing. If we had been second today or third today, I'd still have been pleased because it shows a level of consistency."
Texas A&M had never won a team title before last year's championships in Fayetteville, Ark. They were the first school since 1990 to win both outdoor championships.
"It definitely means a lot," said senior sprinter Porscha Lucas, who won the 200-meter dash. "I'm so proud of my girls."
The Aggie men finished with 55 points, followed by Florida with 54 and the host Oregon Ducks with 45. The Gators came close to unseating the defending champions in the meet's final field event, the long jump, but Christian Taylor fell to fourth and the Gators came up short on points.
Texas A&M's all-junior team of Tran Howell, Bryan Miller, Demetrius Pinder and Tabarie Henry bested runner-up Mississippi State and third-place Florida in the 1,600 with a time of 3 minutes, 0.89 seconds. Again the Gators fell just short.
The women finished with 72 total points, followed by Oregon with 57 and Florida with 40.
The first two days of the meet were marred by heavy downpours and chilly temperatures. The sun finally broke on Friday, but on Saturday morning the fog lingered for all but the final events.
The home crowd of 12,812 at historic Hayward Field was treated to a rare 1-2-3 finish in the 1,500 meters. Andrew Wheating pulled out in front in the final 10 meters followed by Oregon teammates A.J. Acosta and Matthew Centrowitz.
Wheating, who won the 800 meters on Friday, finished in 3:47.94.
"It was a riot, an absolute riot," he said of the finish.
Wheating, who has the Olympic rings tattooed on his back to commemorate making the U.S. team in Beijing, said the slow pace to start the race helped.
"If it was 3 or 4 meters longer, I would have gone from first to fifth," he said.
The last runner to double in the 800 and 1,500 was Oregon's Joaquim Cruz in 1984.
The Texas A&M women opened the day with a victory in the 400 relay. The men did not fare as well in the event with a dropped baton and Florida won in 39.04 seconds with running back Jeff Demps on the final leg. Demps won the 100-meter title on Friday.
Oregon's women won the 1,600 relay in 3:28.54.