Tech Starts Fast Friday at Big 12 Indoors

Kole Weldon finished runner-up Friday in the weight throw at the Big 12 Championships.

Feb. 28, 2014

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AMES, Iowa -  In one smooth, cylindrical fashion, junior Kole Weldon launched a record-breaking toss early Friday afternoon at the Lied Recreation Center, striking a perfect spark for the Texas Tech track and field team on the opening day of competition at the Big 12 Indoor Championships.

The heave came on his final attempt of the weight throw, as Weldon broke his own school record with a mark of 65-feet 5 inches, and with it secured Tech's first eight points of the indoor conference championship. 

"That's my whole goal in the weight," Weldon, who will compete Saturday in the shot put, said. "To represent my team and get eight points in an event that isn't my strongest is just amazing. I'm happy and excited for our team. This is going to help our team."

The No. 22 Red Raiders went on to secure three top-3 finishes across three field events while also qualifying seven athletes for Saturday's finals. Senior Kyal Meyers scored seven points after tying for second in the pole vault, while teammate Shujaa Benson took home a third place finish in the long jump.

The No. 12 Lady Raiders, meanwhile, also pushed seven of their own athletes onto Saturday's finals and picked up 25.50 points with strong performances in the pentathlon and field events. The Tech men enter Saturday third in the team standings with 26 points, while the Lady Raiders sit in fifth.

"I feel we had a good day," Texas Tech head coach Wes Kittley said. "We had no big mistakes and I was thrilled with the school record by Kole in the weight throw - and we qualified a lot of athletes for the finals tomorrow."

Shanice Stewart opened Friday's action with a strong performance in the women's pentathlon. Stewart, who entered the meet No. 12 nationally, finished fourth overall in the five-event competition with 3,836 points. It marked Tech's fourth All-Big 12 performer in the pentathlon since 2011.

Stewart clocked a new career-best time of 8.41 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles, the first event of the morning, before winning the shot put with a career-best throw of 13.21-meters (43-feet 4.25") and finishing second in the long jump going 5.78-meters (18'-11.75").

Later on the track she punched her ticket to the finals of the 60-meter hurdles and finished fourth in the finals of the long jump to pick up another five points for the Lady Raiders. In all, Stewart totaled  10 team points for Tech.

The long jump proved lucrative for the Lady Raiders as they totaled 15 points in the event finishing 3-4-5. The trio was led by sophomore Gionna Jackson who went an indoor collegiate-best 6.06m (19'-10.75") to finish third and pick up six points. She was followed by Stewart in fourth (19'-8") and sophomore Le'Tristan Pledger in fifth (19'-6.25").

Pledger also qualified for the finals of the women's 60-meter hurdles earlier Friday on the track where she finished  first overall in the preliminaries with a time of 8.10 seconds - which tied for the second fastest in school history. Pledger owns the school record of 8.07 seconds set earlier this year.

The Lady Raiders picked up 4.5 points in the women's pole vault, led by a fifth-place finish from sophomore Haley Cook. Cook cleared 3.80-meters (12'-5.50") on her second attempt to secure her first All-Big 12 honor in the event. She was followed by freshman teammate Blake Wood who tied for eighth and picked up a half point clearing 3.65-meters (11'-11.75"). 

The Red Raiders picked up five points late Friday on the track when newcomer Evans Tuitoek finished eighth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:25.69 - the best by a Red Raider in the event this season. The men's distance medley relay team, consisting of Nick Rivera, Dwayne Extol, Kendall McVey and Ezekiel Kissorio, clocked a season-best of 9:53.44 to finish fifth and pick up four points.

Earlier on the track, Kissorio finished first overall in the mile run where he cruised across the finish line with a time of 4:11.02. The finals of the event are scheduled for Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

In the sprints, newcomer Trevor Mackey qualified for the finals of the 60-meter dash after finishing eighth in the preliminaries with an indoor collegiate-best time of 6.82 seconds. Meanwhile, teammate Joseph Richards III, who finished sixth in the 400-meter dash in 2013, qualified for the finals once again in the event after finishing second overall in Friday's preliminaries.

Junior Cierra White finished second overall in the preliminaries of the women's 60-meter dash with a time of 7.38 seconds - the fastest-ever by a Lady Raider at the Big 12 Championships. She also punched a ticket to the finals of the 200-meters after finishing fourth in 23.65 seconds.

White finished fifth in both events last year at the Big 12 Championships.

Teammate Christen Rivers will represent the Lady Raiders Saturday in the finals of the 400-meters after crossing the finish line fourth in 53.76 seconds - she finished eighth in the event last year.

Newcomer Montenae Roye-Speight also qualified for Saturday's finals, finishing sixth in the 600-yard run in 1:22.28 - the fastest time by a Lady Raider in the event since 2001.

Rivera, the 2013 Big 12 indoor and outdoor 800-meter champion, qualified Friday for the finals of the 1,000-meter run after finishing fifth in the preliminaries with a new indoor collegiate-best time of 2:26.98.

The men's heptathlon resumes tomorrow beginning at 11 a.m. Field events begin at noon with the first runnning event scheduled for 1:30. 





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