Like so many track meets in the last few years, the Texas A&M Invitational saw redshirt junior Clayton Chaney pull off another great performance, taking first place in the 60-meter hurdles. Chaney, who has been a jack-of-all-trades athlete for Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88), has made forays into the heptathlon, hurdles and long jump over the years and finished seven-hundredths of a second off of his best time in the 60-meter hurdles on Saturday. Senior Lee Johnson took sixth place in the same event to give the Owls 11 points from that event alone. Sophomore Ben Pressley also ran in the event but did not make the finals, placing 11th in the preliminaries.
Continuing with the sprinting events, junior Sam McGuffie led Rice in the 60-meter dash, placing 13th in the preliminaries, while freshman Chris Sanders and redshirt junior Jack Spinks were 19th and 20th, respectively. Coming in 17th in the 200-meter dash was junior Dylan Bradley, with a personal best time of 22.44 seconds. Bradley also clocked a personal best in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.88 seconds, but senior Collin Shurbet was impressive as well, finishing 12th in the race, while Johnson was 17th.
Senior Dan Sloat set a personal best for the second straight week, dropping his time in the 800-meter run to 1:52.50 and finishing in eighth place. Senior Jordan Hmaidan and junior Mike Troop ran in 15th and 16th place, respectively. The mile race was less eventful, with only junior James Llamas running in the event and taking 17th place. Sophomore John Cavallo starred in the 3,000-meter run, taking second and losing by just three-tenths of a second. Senior Michael Trejo, junior Gabe Cuadra and sophomore Travis Roberts also finished in the top 10 to make it Rice's best event of the meet.
The field events had typical results, with freshman Chris Pillow continuing to improve in the pole vault by posting a personal best vault of 4.81 meters, giving him fourth place overall. The other top finisher for Rice was senior Alex Zinchenko in the shot put, who was eight centimeters short of his best indoor mark. Sophomore Nick Williams did not have a particularly notable performance in the weight throw, finishing 12th overall, well short of his personal best last year. Junior Tyler Wiest maintained his performance in the high jump and will look to improve more in the Conference USA Indoor Championship next weekend. Pressley, McGuffie and freshman J.J. Walker gave great efforts in the long jump with both Pressley and McGuffie coming in the top 10 and Pressley jumping a personal-best distance.
In the relay events, Troop, Pressley, Sloat and freshman Will Firth had a great performance in the distance medley relay; they came in third, eight seconds behind Texas A&M University. Shurbet, Chaney, Johnson and freshman Kyle Denny took eighth place in the 4-x-400 relay with a time of 3:18.79, nearly identical to their time last week.
Overall, Warren was impressed with his team's fifth-place finish out of nine teams, ahead of schools like the University of Alabama, the University of Southern California and Texas Christian University.
"This meet was filled with great results for us, especially considering that the field was filled with some of the nation's top teams," Warren said. "Clayton Chaney's hurdle victory led us, but top finishes by John Cavallo in the 3,000, Alex Zinchenko's shot put, Chris Pillow's pole vault and many others highlighted a great meet."
With the regular indoor season wrapped up, the Owls will not have a meet this weekend before traveling across town to the University of Houston and Yeoman Fieldhouse for the Conference USA Indoor Championship. With a solid foundation in the middle-distance events, long-distance events and shot put, the Owls will hope that events like the vaults and relays can provide an extra boost to push them into the top three teams overall.