WACO – A school record that stood untouched for 30 years came crashing down on Saturday in central Texas.
Jenna Brazeal broke Tarleton’s outdoor 800m record at the Baylor Invitational at 2:12.86.
She surpassed Linda Garcia’s previous program record of 2:13.41, a mark that had been etched atop Tarleton’s outdoor school record book since 1992.
In the process, Brazeal anointed herself as the greatest 800m runner Tarleton has seen. She now owns the program’s indoor and outdoor 800m records.
Brazeal assumed the No. 1 spot on Tarleton’s all-time indoor top-10 list as a freshman in 2020. She then smashed her own school record at the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 19, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, placing fourth in 2:12.65 – officially the fastest time in school history.
The junior’s banner performance came in front of a small nucleus of family and friends. Brazeal arrived in the Cowboy Capital in 2019 from nearby Little River, Texas.
And Tarleton’s previous school record teetered from the get-go.
Brazeal kept pace in a fast heat through the first lap. Baylor’s Aaliyah Miller, who ranks eighth among all NCAA Division I athletes, won the race in 2:06.07. But Brazeal entered the bell lap in fourth place.
She then started a kick that mirrored her push toward All-WAC second team accolades in the Land of Enchantment six weeks prior. Brazeal accelerated with 150 meters to go, then kicked it into high gear to place second overall and firmly cement her legacy as one of the best to ever don purple and white for Tarleton track and field.
Brazeal’s run was the apex of a superb showing for Tarleton in Waco.
Make no mistake, the Texans lived up to their preseason billing as potentially the most talented team in program history.
Tarleton earned six medals – five of which came in field events – against a meat field that featured the No. 2/11 Baylor Bears, Oklahoma State, regional rivals Incarnate Word and University of Texas Arlington and Conference USA adversaries Louisiana Tech and North Texas.
The Texans placed 28 athletes in the top-10 of individual events. In total, 38 athletes notched season and/or lifetime personal records.
A monumental day for the program’s stature within the NCAA South Central Region ended emphatically.
Kevin Baez – the greatest cross country runner in school history – capped Tarleton’s two-day stay at Baylor with Tarleton’s first individual event victory of 2022. He won the 3,000m convincingly in 8:34.76.
But well before Brazeal and Baez blitzed their competition, the makings of a special afternoon began in the field.
Ultimately, an epic showdown on the high jump apron foreshadowed what was to come.
Rylee Hennig placed second after clearing 5′ 7.75″. She initially tied for first and forced a jump-off with Alysaa Miller of the Lady Bears. Hennig and Miller duked it out for multiple attempts before Miller, who ranks 51st nationally, edged Hennig by just one-quarter of an inch.
Hennig, a freshman from Aquilla, Texas, notched her second straight outdoor medal with the result. She now ranks third in the WAC, 11th in the NCAA South Central Region and 54th among all D1 athletes.
Gentrye Muden joined Hennig in reminding casual observers alike as to why Tarleton likely possesses the best one-two punch in the high jump in the WAC. Munden, the reigning WAC Outdoor Champion, cleared 5′ 5.75″ to notch a season personal record and place third.
As Hennig and Munden put on a show adjacent to the infield, Alan Palmer officially began his defense of the WAC long jump crown in emphatic fashion. The senior and Tarleton’s indoor school record holder leapt 24′ 7″ to place second and earn a silver medal.
Ultimately, however, the distinction of being the first athlete to medal at the meet belonged to Elise Smith. The junior, who is also a member of Tarleton’s volleyball team, slung the spear 141′ 0″ to finish second and claim the No. 2 spot on Tarleton’s all-time outdoor top-10 record book. Smith, from Napoleonville, Louisiana, now ranks sixth among her conference peers.
The fifth-and-final medal of the day belonged to Jamariyan Howlett in the high jump. Howlett, a freshman, cleared 6′ 5″ to finish tied for second. His season personal record of 6′ 7.5″is tied for 16th in the South Central Region and 95th nationally.
Howlett led a robust showing for Tarleton in the event. Palmer and sophomore Max Newell tied for fourth at 6′ 3.25. They both achieved season personal records.
Personal records and top-10 finishes continued to flow in the javelin and discus.
All three of Tarleton’s men’s javelin throwers cracked the top-10. Ben Presley placed fifth and moved to sixth on the WAC Outdoor Performance List behind a throw of 172′ 4.” Aneudy Pimental, who threw the implement for just the second time ever, finished eighth and now ranks eighth in the WAC at 165′ 0″. Jacob Bowers rounded out the effort with a 10th-place finish behind a toss of 136′ 5″.
The action then transitioned to the sand pits, where Nakia Dunn and Jaden Hall flashed their respective pairs of All-Conference credentials. Hall finished sixth in the men’s competition with a leap of 47′ 3.5 and enhanced his stranglehold on the No. 2 spot on the WAC Outdoor Performance List. Dunn, on a day where nothing came easy, leapt 39′ 0.25″ and garnered eighth place.
Once Dunn and Hall completed their jumps, the meet transitioned to the track, where Tarleton’s’ women’s 4x100m relay flashed its All-WAC potential.
The Texans quartet of Hanna Dudley, Breonna Campbell, Summer Croxton and Nyla Barlow improved their season personal record by a second-and-a-half to place fifth in 46.13.
The short hurdles were then bountiful for Tarleton. Three athletes who raced attained personal records.
Khloe Turnbull shaved three-tenths of a second off her personal record in the 100m hurdles with a time of 14.59. She has now posted a personal record in the event in three consecutive meets.
Sullivan Sanders finished seventh and notched a lifetime personal record of 14.81. Brady Sisneroz followed suit with a lifetime best of 15.27 seconds.
Sisneroz’s day was not done, however, as he led Tarleton’s collective effort in the 400m hurdles with a lifetime personal record of 54.41 to place fourth and claim the No. 4 spot in the WAC.
The meet then shifted to the 400m, where Tarleton battled a collection of the nation’s biggest names.
In the women’s race, Jordan Anglin was Tarleton’s top overall finisher, as she nabbed 13th place behind a season personal record of 56.76 . Alessa King (57.81), Brenna Lee (58.99) and Macie Evans (59.18) followed suit to give Tarleton its second straight meet with four 400m runners to post sub-60-second times.
Brandon McKissick furthered his trajectory toward another set of All-WAC credentials on the men’s side. He clocked in at 48.26 seconds to finish eighth and reaffirm his status as the No. 3 performer in the WAC.
Tarleton then demonstrated it boasts a trio of contenders for All-WAC credentials in the 100m.
Justin Raines clocked the fifth-fastest time in school history (10.46) and won his heat to move to second in the WAC. Hanna Dudley and Breonna Campbell teamed up to match and surpass their lifetime personal records with times of 11.91 and 11.96. The tandem ranks eighth and 10th in the WAC, respectively.
Kevin Calvani and Angel Gomez teamed up to ensure Brazeal was not the only 800m runner to achieve a milestone. The underclassmen duo both achieved personal records. Calvani finished 10th in 1:56.04 while Gomez, who made his collegiate outdoor debut, crossed the finish line in 1:58.80.
The 200m proved to be the busiest event of the afternoon for Tarleton, as the Texans were represented by 12 athletes.
Barlow clocked the fastest women’s time in 24.46. Anglin (24.67), Croxton (24.84), King (25.89), Trinity Washington (25.66), Evans (26.00) and Lee (26.56) then all notched personal records.
Raines led the way on the men’s side with a time of 21.36 seconds. He continues to rank second in the WAC in the event. McKissick (21.70), Ethan Hood (21.94), Sanders (22.44) and Bailey Smotek (22.91) then followed suit with personal records.
The discus throw took center stage on the infield as running events progressed.
Tarleton notched three top-10 finishes and a trio of personal records in the women’s competition. Elena Reagon finished fourth overall with a season-best throw of 142′ 6″. Bonnie Clifton then heaved the disc 124′ 10″ to register a lifetime personal record and place eighth. Hailey Daniels-White followed with a 10th-place finish at 115′ 0″. Audrey Lillard placed 13th with a lifetime personal best of 113′ 2′”.
The personal record streak continued on the men’s side for Ethan Bratton and Bowers. They each finished with season personal records of 149′ 1″ and 141 7″ to place ninth, and 12th, respectively.
Decathlete Isaac Hutchings cleared 14′ 1.25″ in the pole vault for the second consecutive meet.
Dominick Vastlik notched a season personal record of 4:08.57 in the 1,500m while Sage Lancaster (5:25.28) and Maria Diaz-Fernandez (5:27.57) teamed up to place eighth and ninth in the women’s race.
The meet wrapped up with the 3,000m. Aimee Landers-Wilbur and Vianney Sanchez placed 12th and 13th with times of 11:04.49 and 11:17.71.