April 11, 2014
LUBBOCK - The Texas Tech track and field program is set to hit the road Saturday as the No. 10 Red Raiders and No. 19 Lady Raiders compete at the inaugural Wes Kittley Invitational at Elmer Gray Stadium in Abilene.
Action begins at the meet, named in honor of Texas Tech head coach Wes Kittley, at 11 a.m. with running events scheduled to follow at 3 p.m.
Kittley, now in his 15th season at the helm of the Tech program, won 29 NCAA Championships at Abilene Christian during a historic 15-year tenure from 1984-1999.
"I'm really humbled by the opportunity to go back," Kittley said. "It will be fun to see a bunch of old friends and a lot of former athletes. It's really neat, and I'm really taken back by it."
With a successful showing at Tech's home opener last week, Tech enters the Wes Kittley Invitational with 13 athletes boasting Top-10 marks on the NCAA West Qualifying List.
Two record performances highlighted the action last week at the Texas Tech Open as sophomore Hannah Carson and junior Kole Weldon each turned in historic performances. Carson broke her own facility record in the javelin with a toss of 50.39-meters (165'-4"), while Weldon broke the school record in the hammer throw with a heave of 60.92-meters (199'-10").
Meanwhile, the No. 10 Red Raiders enter the meet with two of the top-3 men's high jumpers in the country in junior JaCorian Duffield and sophomore Bradley Adkins.
Adkins and Duffield went 1-2 at the Texas Tech Open where they both cleared 2.21-meters (7'-3.00"). The performance marked a new outdoor collegiate-best for Adkins, and propelled him to No. 3 nationally and No. 2 in the NCAA West.
Duffield and Adkins are No. 2 and No. 3 on the national outdoor performance list respectively and tied for fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
The Wes Kittley Invitational marks Texas Tech's first trip at Abilene Christian since the 2009 season.
Texas Tech is led by 2013 Big 12 100-meter Champion Cierra White who enters the Wes Kittley Invitational ranked in the Top-5 among the West Region in both the 100-meters and the 200-meters. Her season-best time of 23.04 in the 200-meters currently leads the Big 12. White finished fifth in the finals of the 100-meters at the Texas Relays where she clocked a season-best time of 11.30. Meanwhile, newcomer Trevor Mackey enters the weekend No. 28 in the NCAA West in the 200-meter dash with a season-best of 21.23. Joseph Richards III is scheduled to run the 400-meter dash, he enters the weekend No. 26 in the NCAA West with a season-best of 47.43, clocked last week at the Texas Tech Open.
Texas Tech is led in the hurdles by sophomore and 2013 national qualifier Le'Tristan Pledger. Pledger enters the Wes Kittley Invitational fresh off a season-best performance at the Texas Tech Open last week where she clocked a 13.08 to win the 100-meter hurdles. After conversion for wind, Pledger enters the week No. 4 in the NCAA West and No. 3 in the Big 12. During the 2014 indoor season, Pledger broke school records in both the 55-meter hurdles and the 60-meter hurdles. Her time of 13.08 last week ranked No. 6 in school history among wind aided performances. Joining Pledger at the Wes Kittley Invitational will be senior Dwayne Extol who also boasts a Top-10 time in the NCAA West as he clocked a season-best of 51.73 in the 400-meter hurdles at the Texas Tech Open. The time ranks No. 9 in the NCAA West and No. 2 in the Big 12.
Texas Tech will send a handful of distance runners to the Wes Kittley Invitational including Red Raider senior Kennedy Kithuka and Lady Raider senior Sharlene Nickle. Nickle enters the meet fresh off a career-best performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Stanford Invitational. Nickle finished sixth at the highly competitive meet crossing the finish line in 10:18.92. The time jumped her to No. 9 in the NCAA West and No. 4 in the Big 12. Kithuka is scheduled to run in the 1,500m at the Wes Kittley Invitational. The Kenya native finished runner-up at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships after winning titles in the 5,000-meters at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships. Meanwhile, teammate Evans Tuitoek, who won the 1,500-meters at the Texas Relays in March, is scheduled to compete in the event this weekend.
Texas Tech triple jumpers had a breakout performance last week at the Texas Tech Open as three Lady Raiders broke the 40-foot barrier, each for the first time in their collegiate careers. The trio - which went 1-2-3 at the meet - was led by sophomore Gionna Jackson who won the competition with a best leap of 12.58-meters (41'-3.25"), which puts her at No. 11 in the NCAA West and No. 4 in the Big 12 entering this week. Jackson was followed by freshmen Viershanie Latham and Paetyn Revell. Latham went 12.33-meters (40'-5.50") while Revell went 12.25-meters (40'-2.25"). The trio each earned top-30 spots among the NCAA West with the performance, and will compete in the triple jump this weekend at the Wes Kittley Invitational. Meanwhile, Jerome Wilson is scheduled to compete in both the long jump and triple jump for the Red Raiders. Wilson enters with a season-best of 7.32 (24'-2.25") in the long jump, an event he finished third in at the 2013 NJCAA Indoor Championships.
Once again, Texas Tech put on a show in the high jump as Bradley Adkins and JaCorian Duffield went 1-2 at the Texas Tech Open both clearing 2.21-meters (7'-3"). The clearance marked a new career-best for Adkins, who leaps to No. 2 in the NCAA West. Texas Tech now boasts two of the top-3 high jumpers in the nation as Duffield and Adkins appear at 2-3 on the national performance list respectively. The pair tied for fifth overall at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships becoming the first duo from the same program to finish in the top-5 at the NCAA Indoor Championships since 1999. Duffield finished runner-up at the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Championships, and broke a 30-year-old school record with a clearance of 2.23-meters (7'-3.75") at the Texas Relays. The jump also matched his indoor career-best. For the Lady Raiders, junior Michaela Palu enters the Wes Kittley Invitational with a season-best jump of 1.77-meters (5'-9.75") - which ranks No. 14 in the NCAA West and No. 5 in the Big 12 . Red Raider senior Kyal Meyers is also scheduled to compete in the pole vault. He finished third at the Texas Relays with a season-best jump of 5.35-meters (17'-6.50"). He finished runner-up at the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Championships, and has gone 17'-9" in his career.
Lady Raider sophomore Hannah Carson continued her stellar 2014 campaign last week with another historic performance in the javelin. Carson won the competition and broke her own Terry and Linda Fuller Track and Field Complex facility record with a toss of 50.39-meters (165'-4.00"). Carson has broke a school or facility record in each of her three meets this season. At the Texas Relays in March, Carson let loose a heave of 54.03-meters (177'-3.00") to break her own school record. The season-best mark ranks No. 4 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12. Meanwhile, junior Red Raider Kole Weldon also had a record-breaking performance as he broke the Texas Tech record in the hammer throw with a toss of 60.92-meters (199'-10"). Weldon now owns the school record in the indoor and outdoor shot put as well as the hammer throw. He's ranked in the top-20 of the NCAA West in both the shot put and discus, and was the only Big 12 athlete to score points at the conference meet in each the shot put, discus and hammer throw in 2013.
The Lady Raider 4x400 relay team enters the Wes Kittley Invitational with a season-best performance at the Texas Relays where they crossed the finish line in 3:32.86 - marking the No. 10 time in school history. The performance ranks No. 2 in the Big 12. The squad was comprised of Montenae Roye-Speight, Christen Rivers, Amoy Blake and Cierra White - three of the four legs from a squad that advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year.