deborah acquah

Texas A&M’s Deborah Acquah competes in the long jump at the Reveille Invitational on Dec. 7, 2019, at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.

The second big weekend of the indoor track season has attracted a large field for Texas A&M’s third annual Ted Nelson Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.

“This is our first full-fledged meet, and we see this as the first step on the ladder towards the end of the year and the national championships,” A&M head track and field coach Pat Henry said in a press release. “We have 17 teams on Friday and seven on Saturday. It’s a very good meet for us to open the season and see where we are at and what we need to continue to work on.”

The A&M women are ranked fifth nationally behind Southern California, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas. The Aggie men are ranked sixth behind Florida State, LSU, USC, Texas and Indiana.

The A&M women are led by the nation’s top-ranked 4x400-meter relay team of Jania Martin, Amber Ivy, Charokee Young, Tierra Robinson-Jones, whose best time is 3 minutes, 36.53 seconds.

A&M has 12 individual performances in the nation’s top 25 led by high jumper Tyra Gittens (second nationally at 5 feet, 11.5 inches); long jumper Deborah Acquah (ninth, 20-1.75); Kaylah Robinson in the 60 hurdles (17th, 8.32); and Rachel Hall in the 200 (18th, 24.35).

The A&M men’s 4x400 relay team of Colby Zamzow, Bryce Deadmon, Infinite Tucker and Devin Dixon are ranked third in the country (3:09.08). The men’s lone individual entry in the top 20 is Lance Broome in the 200 (14th, 21.48).

Friday’s field will include Barton County, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, North Texas, Northwestern State, Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Texas Southern, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Texas-Tyler and Western Texas.

The field Saturday will include Abilene Christian, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio and Kentucky — Kentucky’s women are ranked 10th nationally.

The meet is named in honor the former athlete and longtime coach at A&M, who was inducted into the school’s Hall of Honor in 1999.

Nelson competed for A&M from 1963-65, setting 13 school records and a pair of Southwest Conference records. He was a member of the ’63 mile relay team that ran a school-record 3 minutes, 10.7 seconds, then the next season set A&M’s 440-yard mark in 46.6. Nelson also played split end on the 1965 A&M football team.

After graduating, Nelson served as a graduate assistant to head track coach Charlie Thomas in 1966 and as an assistant coach from 1967-89. He served as the assistant head coach in 1989-90 before replacing the retiring Thomas as the head coach from 1990-2004, twice being named the Big 12 Conference coach of the year.

NOTES — Friday’s action will start at 5 p.m. and Saturday’s at 2 p.m. ... Team scores will be separated by each day’s primary field of teams but will include points from crossover events. The men’s and women’s distance medley relays and the 5,000 will be held Friday but include teams from Saturday’s meet. The men’s and women’s 4x400 finals will be held Saturday but include teams from Friday’s meet.

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