Four More Advance to NCAA Championship Meet
Isaiah Gill qualified for nationals Friday in the 400-meter hurdles.
May 25, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Tech went on to qualify four more athletes for the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships on a rainy Friday evening at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.
After several rounds of thunderstorms put a six-hour halt to competition, the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders continued a strong showing at the regional meet as each Christen Rivers, Isaiah Gill, Cierra White and Kole Weldon earned berths to the national championship in Eugene.
The No. 16 Red Raiders and No. 20 Lady Raiders have now qualified a total of eight athletes for the NCAA Outdoor Championships scheduled for June 5-8.
Rivers was the first Texas Tech athlete to earn a berth to the national meet after finishing with a career-best 53.35 in the 400-meter dash. Rivers finished fifth in her heat, but qualified with the third-fastest time from non-automatic qualifiers.
"I'm just happy I made it," Rivers said. "I was just focused on executing what my coaches had told me to do."
Her performance was followed by a familiar dominant showing out of White, the Big 12 100-meter Champion. The Philadelphia native coasted to a first place finish in her heat and punched her automatic berth to the national meet. It marks White's second straight trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships after qualifying in the 200-meter dash last year as a freshman.
"This feels even better than last year," White said. "Last year I just barely qualified, but this year I made it with a great time and I'm more confident in myself."
White went on to qualify for the quarterfinals of the women's 200-meter dash finishing first in her heat with a time of 23.24.
Both White and Rivers will compete Saturday on the Lady Raider relay squads.
Meanwhile, Gill continued Texas Tech's strong tradition of hurdlers by qualifying in the 400-meter hurdles and turning in a season-best time while at it. Gill crossed the finish line in 50.35 seconds to earn his first career berth to the national meet in an individual event.
"I just came out here and tried to have a fast time," Gill said. "It was a rocky race, but I was still able to get a fast time."
In the throws, Weldon qualified for nationals in his second event finishing second in the men's shot put with a toss of 19.17-meters (62'-10.75"). Weldon recorded the throw on his third attempt, and the performance comes after qualifying in the discus throw on Thursday.
"It's a good feeling going back to nationals," Weldon said. "The shot put is a little more expected after indoors and getting a silver medal. It's good to go back, and now I just need to keep improving and get ready for nationals."
Texas Tech got off to a fast start on the still damp Mike A. Myers track with both senior Katie Grimes and freshman Le'Tristan Pledger advancing out of the first round of the women's 100-meter hurdles - the first running event of the evening after the weather delay.
Grimes cruised to an easy victory in her heat pulling away early and crossing the finish line in 13.64 seconds. Pledger meanwhile finished second in her heat to also automatically qualify for the quarterfinals.
Grimes and Pledger both will compete in the quarterfinals of the 100-meter hurdles Saturday evening looking to finish in the top-12 overall and qualify for the NCAA Championships. Pledger already secured a ticket to Eugene after qualifying in the women's long jump on Thursday evening.
Action resumes Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium with the final afternoon of competition.
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