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Tech Opens Outdoor Season in San Antonio


Texas Tech opens the 2014 outdoor season Friday in San Antonio.
March 20, 2014

SAN ANTONIO, Texas  - The Texas Tech track and field program is set to open the 2014 outdoor season this weekend as the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders compete at the UTSA Invitational. The two-day meet begins Friday and continues through Saturday, and will serve as the official opening of the Park West Athletics Complex on the UTSA campus.

The UTSA Invitational will be the first home outdoor meet at UTSA since the 1995 season. Texas Tech will join programs from Houston, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and host school UTSA in the scored meet.

Friday's events are scheduled to begin at noon with the start of the men's decathlon along with the women's javelin and men's hammer throw. The women's heptathlon is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

The meet will continue Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. with the continuation of the decathlon and heptathlon. Events on the track will begin at 11:55 a.m., while field events will follow beginning at noon.

The Red Raiders open the 2014 outdoor season on the heels of the program's fourth-straight top-25 finish at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Red Raiders finished third last year at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships with 117.5 points - the highest point total for the squad at the outdoor conference meet since winning the Big 12 in 2005.

The Red Raiders return 13 All-Big 12 performers from 2013 along with two legs from the All-Big 12 4x100 relay, and two legs from the All-Big 12 4x400 relay. Among those returners are 2014 NCAA Indoor All-Americans JaCorian Duffield and Bradley Adkins, who tied for fifth in the men's high jump.

Also making his return for the Red Raiders is two-time NCAA National Champion Kennedy Kithuka. The Kenya native brought home Tech's first men's national title in the 5,000-meter run at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships.

The Lady Raiders, who finished sixth at the 2013 Big 12 Championships, return 11 All-Big 12 performers, along with two legs from each the All-Big 12 4x100 and 4x400 relay squads.

SPRINTS
Junior Cierra White opens her junior outdoor campaign for the Lady Raiders this weekend. The Philadelphia native enters the season as the reigning Big12 Champion in the 100-meter dash - Tech's first by a Lady Raider since 2001. White holds the school record in both the 100-meters (11.09) and the 200-meters (22.89). She's the only Lady Raider in school history to record a time under 23-seconds in the 200-meter dash in legal wind (< 2.0). Tech will also look to benefit from the return of All-Big 12 sprinter and relay leg Joseph Richards III. He finished sixth in the 400-meter dash at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships last year and enters the outdoor season with a collegiate best time of 46.60 in the event.

HURDLES
The Red Raiders return a crop of talented hurdlers for the 2014 outdoor season including 2013 All-Big 12 performers Dwayne Extol, Tramaine Maloney and Le'Tristan Pledger. Pledger enters her sophomore outdoor campaign after qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter hurdles. She also set school records in both the 55-meter and 60-meter hurdles during the stellar season. Pledger qualified for the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 100-meter hurdles and enters the season with a collegiate-best wind-legal time of 13.29 seconds - good for No. 8 all-time at Texas Tech.  Maloney earned All-Big 12 honors in both the 110-meter hurdles (3rd) and the 400-meter hurdles (7th). Maloney qualified for the regional meet in the 110-meter hurdles last year while Extol qualified in the 400-meter hurdles.

DISTANCE
2013 NCAA Indoor 5,000-meter Campion and NCAA Cross Country Runner-Up Kennedy Kithuka returns to the track for his senior campaign this weekend. Kithuka, during his senior indoor campaign in 2013, set school records in each the mile, 3,000-meter run, 5,000-meter run and as a member of the Red Raider distance medley relay team. Kithuka is entered to run the 800-meters this weekend. The Red Raiders also return the services of Big 12 800-meter Champion Nick Rivera. Rivera became the first Big 12 athlete to sweep the indoor and outdoor conference championships in the event since 2008. Returning for the Lady Raiders will be reigning All-Big 12 athlete Sharlene Nickle who finished fourth at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in the steeplechase.

HORIZONTAL JUMPS
The Lady Raiders return the services of 2014 NCAA Indoor qualifier Le'Tristan Pledger for the start of the outdoor season. Pledger, who was also a national qualifier in the 60-meter hurdles, was a double qualifier in both the long jump and 100-meter hurdles for the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships. She enters the 2014 outdoor season with an outdoor collegiate best leap of 6.37-meters (20'-10.75") which ranks third in school history. She finished fourth at the Big 12 Conference meet. Also returning for Tech will be Shujaa Benson who finished the 2013 season strong, placing fourth at the conference meet in the long jump. He boasts a career-best of leap 7.58-meters (24'-10.50") - he went on to qualify for the regional meet. The Lady Raiders will also look to benefit from All-Big 12 performer Gionna Jackson who finished sixth at the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Championships and recently earned All-Big 12 honors in both the long jump at triple jump at the Big 12 Indoor Championships.

VERTICAL JUMPS
Texas Tech is fresh off a historic performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the men's high jump. Junior JaCorian Duffield and sophomore Bradley Adkins tied for fifth in the competition at the national meet - marking the first time in 15 years that a duo from the same program finished in the top-5 at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The pair finished 2-3 at the Big 12 Indoor Championships and also broke a 30-year-old school record in the event as they each cleared 2.23-meters 7'-3.75". The pair finished 2-3 at the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Championships before qualifying for the NCAA meet in Eugene. Duffield is the first two-time All-American high jumper in program history while Adkins' earned is his first career All-America honor during the indoor season. Senior Kyal Meyers returns for the Red Raiders in the pole vault - he finished runner-up at the 2014 Big 12 Indoor Championships and also finished runner up at the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Championships - he boasts a career-best outdoor clearance of 5.41-meters (17'-9"). All-Big 12 performer Michaela Palu, who finished seventh at the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Championships also returns for the Lady Raiders in the high jump.

THROWS
The Red Raiders return the services of junior All-American Kole Weldon along with a talented crop of Tech throwers for the 2014 outdoor season. Weldon finished runner-up last year at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in the shot put before going on to finish third at the NCAA Championships. Weldon threw a season-best 19.43-meters (63'-9") in 2013 - good for No. 2 all-time at Texas Tech. He was the only Big 12 athlete to score at the conference meet in each the shot put, discus and hammer. The Lady Raiders will welcome back Hannah Carson - the school record holder and 2013 national qualifier in the javelin throw. Also returning will be All-Big 12 thrower Natalie Thompson in the javelin, and All-Big 12 thrower Jorge Garcia in the men's shot put.

COMBINED EVENTS
Natalie Thompson along with two Lady Raider newcomers will represent Tech in the women's heptathlon which begins Friday at noon. Thompson, who finished ninth at the Big 12 Indoor Championships in the pentathlon, enters the meet with a collegiate-best of 4,740 points in the heptathlon, which she scored at the Angelo State Relays as a freshman. Thompson also finished with All-Big 12 honors in the javelin last year.

RELAYS
The Lady Raiders return both Amoy Blake and Christen Rivers from the national qualifying 4x400 relay. The squad went on to finish 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The same squad finished fourth at the Big 12 Championships. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders return both Joseph Richards III and Dwayne Extol from a 4x100 relay that finished third at the Big 12 Championships in Waco.


 

 

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