AUSTIN — Teammates for the better part of a decade, Michael Bryan and Prezel Hardy Jr. have a unique connection on the track, especially when it comes to their handoffs.
Now, in their third year at Texas A&M, the two former Ellison standouts believe they have it down to a science, and it’s the Aggies who are reaping the benefits.
“High school to college, it’s the same thing, we just continue to work on it at practice and it’s (become) perfection,” Hardy said. “It’s what me and Mike do, we’ve perfected it.”
Whether it’s as the opening two legs of the 800-meter relay, helping push A&M into the lead by the end of the first lap, or bringing it home as the anchor legs of the 400 relay, Bryan’s near-flawless handoffs to Hardy helped lead the Aggies to gold in both sprint relays Saturday at the 86th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
“It’s a great boost for the team, everybody really (envies) our handoff because we’ve been working on it for several years and pretty much have perfected it, everybody wants their handoff to be like ours,” Bryan said.
It was especially key in the 400 relay, when Bryan took the third-leg handoff from freshman teammate Aldrich Baily Jr. in second place. By the time Bryan passed the baton to Hardy the Aggies were first, allowing the world-class sprinter to cruise to gold in 38.64 seconds — 0.35 ahead of runner-up Florida.
“I’ve come to expect that from Mike. ... Whether he’s dead-to-the-world tired or if he’s fresh straight out of the bed, I know Mike is going to give his all,” Hardy said. “Because he loves his team, he loves his teammates, he loves the relay and at the end of the day, that’s what it is.”
Along with senior anchor Ameer Webb, the quartet won the 800 relay by 2½ seconds (1:20.78) over Northwestern State.
“It’s kinda weird because that was the first time (this year) we got pushed, but I just gave it to Mike, and if our handoff is clean, he’s going to do his job in the curve,” Bailey said. “Then, it’s the Killeen Ellison duo you already know, ain’t nobody going to mess with that.”
Bryan also earned himself a fourth-place finish in the university men’s 100-meter dash, making up ground over the final 25 meters to come in at 10.34 seconds, two-tenths of a second behind Webb, who won the event to give A&M two of the top four individual finishers in the 100.
“You just feel unstoppable, ... when you’ve got four guys like us, it’s kinda like a walk (in the park),” said Webb, who earned Most Outstanding Performer at the meet while the A&M men were named the Most Outstanding Team.
“All I know is (if) I get these guys into position (to win), everything else will click.”