Benson Wins Big 12 Long Jump Title

May 18, 2014

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video camera Pledger Finishes Third in Women's Long Jump

LUBBOCK, Texas - Texas Tech will officially enter Sunday's finals of the Big 12 Track and Field  Championships in command of the men's team standings as the No. 6 Red Raiders turned in a second-straight strong showing on their home track Saturday.

The Red Raiders pushed nine athletes through to Sunday's finals and currently lead the men's race with 48 points after two days of competition. The Lady Raiders, meanwhile, will enter Sunday third overall with 36 points.

"We had a good day and qualified well and that was our goal," Texas Tech head coach Wes Kittley said. "The kids are really fighting hard, and that's what I'm proud of."

The Red Raiders got an impressive kick start Saturday by way of an 18-point performance in the men's long jump where Shujaa Benson won the conference title with a career-best leap of 7.84-meters (25'-8.75"). Teammate Jerome Wilson followed as runner-up with a best jump of 7.82-meters (25'-8.00").

"It's amazing," Benson said. "I'm just happy I could help the team and stack up points with first and second. I knew what we had to do to get the win, and it was just me and my teammate going back-and-forth."

Texas Tech is the first school to go 1-2 in the men's long jump at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships since 2003 (Texas A&M), and has now won the event in back-to-back years as former Red Raider Bryce Lamb won the title last year in Waco.

Texas Tech went on to pick up 10 points in the men's shot put as junior Kole Weldon finished runner-up while teammate Jorge Garcia followed in seventh with a career-best throw of 17.68-meters (58'-0.25").

Freshman high jumper Cameron Knight picked up Tech's first two points of the day finishing seventh in his first career decathlon competition.

On the track, sophomore Le'Tristan Pledger got the Lady Raiders off to a fast start with a school record performance in the preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdlers where she finished third overall in just 12.93 seconds. Pledger, who finished third at the 2013 Big 12 Championships as a freshman, becomes the first Lady Raider to break the 13-second barrier in legal wind. She's the second Lady Raider in school history to record a time under 13 seconds under any conditions, joining former All-American Katie Grimes who did so three times in her career.

Junior Lady Raider Shanice Stewart wrapped up competition in the women's heptathlon finishing runner up in the competition with a career-best 5,674 points. The performance was just 100 points off the school record, and second-most all-time at Texas Tech. She went on to finish sixth in the long jump to pick up an additional three points for the Lady Raiders, and qualified for the finals of the 100-meter hurdles.

Natalie Thompson finished 10th in the heptathlon with 5,032 points - her second consecutive 5,000+ point performance of the season - while Andi Morgan finished 11th with 4,188 points.

Reigning NCAA Champion Lindsay Vollmer won the competition with 5,786 points - the most by an athlete at the Big 12 Championships in three years.

The Lady Raiders picked up 12 points in the women's pole vault, led by sophomore Haley Cook and freshman Reece Timmons who tied for fourth, both clearing 3.82-meters (12'-6.25") on first attempt. Teammate Blake Wood finished sixth after clearing 3.67-meters (12'-0.50") on first attempt.

The squad scored 10 additional points in the women's long jump where Pledger finished third with a leap of 6.18-meters (20'-3.50"). She was followed by Stewart in sixth and Gionna Jackson in eighth.

Lady Raider sophomore and defending Big 12 Champion Cierra White finished first overall in the women's 100-meter dash where she crossed the finish line in 11.20 seconds - her fastest time of the season in legal wind. Teammate Montenae Roye-Speight went on to qualify in the 400-meter dash after finishing fifth with a time of 52.87.

Red Raider sprinter Trevor Mackey punched his ticket to the finals in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash. He finished third overall in the 200-meters with a time of 20.94 seconds, and sixth in the 100-meters in 10.38. Mackey broke a 24-year-old school record in the 200-meters at the Red Raider Open on May 3 with a time of 20.47 seconds.

Teammate Joseph Richards III went on to finish second overall in the men's 400-meter dash with a time of 46.63 to secure his spot in Sunday's finals.

Meanwhile, a trio of Red Raiders in JW Smith, Dwayne Extol and Tramaine Maloney all punched tickets to Sunday's finals in the 400-meter hurdles. Maloney and Benson also qualified in the 110-meter hurdles.

Reigning Big 12 Champion Nick Rivera will also look to defend a conference title Sunday as he qualified in the 800-meter run.   

Lady Raider Caitlin Waters, who has had a strong senior campaign, finished second overall in the 800-meter preliminaries with time of 2:10.77 - she's clocked a season-best of 2:07.09.

Action Sunday at the Big 12 Championships resumes with field events at 11 a.m. and running finals beginning at 5:30 p.m. on the Fuller Track. Fans can purchase tickets online or at the ticket booth at $10 for adults and $5 for youth and students.







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