Tech Closes Strong at Masked Rider Open

The Red Raider 4x400 relay team capped off the Masked Rider Open Saturday with a season-best performance.

Feb. 1, 2014

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LUBBOCK, Texas  - The Texas Tech track and field program put the finishing touches on the annual Masked Rider Open Saturday inside the Athletic Training Center with perhaps the strongest showing of the season.

The Red Raiders and Lady Raiders turned in a handful of impressive performances including a school and facility record mark early Friday in the women's 55-meter hurdles.

"This was a big plus for the kids," Texas Tech head coach Wes Kittley said. "I just saw a lot of good things in the last two days. We worked them really hard...and they were still fighting hard at the end. That's a big plus. I feel like you're maturing a little bit as a team when you can do that."

In all, six facility records fell over the weekend. Two were broken by Kennedy Kithuka, competing unattached, while Tech sophomore Le'Tristan Pledger blew away the field in the semifinals of the women's 55-meter hurdles early Friday afternoon with a school and facility record time of 7.59 seconds.

Kithuka, who broke the stadium record in the 5,000-meter run Friday night, broke his own record in the 3,000-meter run Saturday with a time of 8:03.60. He also competed in the mile run finishing five seconds off the facility record with a time of 4:03.32.

The meet wrapped up Saturday evening with a season-best performance out of the Red Raider 4x400 relay. The squad, comprised of Joseph Richards III, Kyle Collins, Dee Paul and Dwayne Extol, shaved five seconds off the team's previous season-best with a time of 3:10.14.

Richards III also collected a win in the men's 400-meter dash earlier in the day, recording a career-best time of 47.05 in the process.  Collins finished fifth in the race with a season-best time of 48.12 seconds.

Saturday's action opened when Tech All-American Cierra White captured her second win of the season in the women's 200-meter dash, clocking a time of 23.76. She was followed by teammate Amoy Blake in ninth with a 25.20.

White clocked a season-best of 23.53 last week at the Texas A&M Triangular - the time ranked No. 6 nationally entering the weekend.

Tech continued to string together impressive performances including a strong showing from junior Michaela Palu, who matched her season-best in the women's high jump clearing 1.68-meters (5'-6.00"). Palu cleared the bar on her second attempt to finish second in the competition. The effort matched her clearance from last week at the Texas A&M Triangular where she also finished second.

Sophomore Haley Cook went on to clear a career-best of 3.90 (12'-9.50") in the pole vault. Cook won the competition, and moved into the top-5 of the conference in the event with the performance.

In the men's weight throw, Texas Tech junior Kole Weldon continued his productive season tossing a career-best 18.98-meters (62'-3.25") on his final throw of the afternoon. Weldon has improved his season-best in three-consecutive meets .

Tech went 1-2 in the women's 400-meter dash led by Christen Rivers who crossed the line in 54.04 seconds. Montenae Roye-Speight followed in second with a time of 54.81. Rivers has now won two of the three 400-meter dash races she's entered this season. The junior entered the meet No. 13 on the national indoor qualifying list with a season-best of 53.86 seconds.

The Lady Raiders took three of the top-5 spots in the women's triple jump led by Gionna Jackson in third who jumped a career-best 12.08-meters (39'-7.75"). She was followed by teammates Viershanie Latham in fourth and Paetyn Revell in fifth.

Texas Tech will hit the road next week for a highly-competitive meet in Albuquerque as the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders are scheduled to compete at the New Mexico Classic Feb. 7-8. 




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