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NCAA Championships Await Texas Tech

June 10, 2014


Texas Tech opens competition at the NCAA Outdoor Championships Wednesday in Eugene, Ore.

EUGENE, Ore. - The No. 9 Red Raiders and No. 15 Lady Raiders are set to open competition Wednesday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships on the University of Oregon campus. In all, 12 entrants from the Texas Tech's men's and women's teams will compete throughout the four-day meet featuring the top athletes from across the nation.

"We're very excited for this week," Texas Tech head coach Wes Kittley said. "I'm very confident with the group we qualified, and looking forward to seeing how they perform against some of the best competition in the country."

Kittley - in the midst of one of the strongest seasons in school history - was honored by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Monday as the Mountain Region Men's and Women's Head Coach of the Year. His Red Raiders enter the four-day meet with a streak of four consecutive Top-25 finishes, and are eyeing their third Top-10 finish in program history with a seasoned group of athletes.

The Texas Tech men's team last finished in the Top-10 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2011 at Drake.

Junior thrower Kole Weldon will open competition Wednesday in the shot put followed by senior Big 12 Champion and Bowerman Watch List candidate Kennedy Kithuka in the 10,000-meter run.

Weldon, who finished third in the shot put at the 2013 NCAA Championships, will also compete in the discus throw scheduled for Friday. The Jacksboro, Texas native was named Monday the Mountain Region Field Athlete of the Year after finishing runner-up in three events and earning High Point Scorer honors at the Big 12 Championships in May. He is making his third career appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Kithuka, the Big 12 Men's Athlete of the Year, swept the 5,000m and 10,000m run at both the Big 12 Championships and NCAA West Preliminaries. He'll run in the 5,000m Friday - an event he won at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships. The Thika, Kenya native enters Eugene with the nation's leading time of 13:26.98 in the 5,000m and No. 2 time in the 10,000m (27:41.73).

Junior Cierra White - a reigning All-American in the 100m, and teammate Hannah Carson will open competition for the Lady Raiders Wednesday in the semifinal of the 100m at 5:45 p.m. (PST). She will be integral in the Lady Raiders' team race after qualifying in each the 100m, 200m and as a leg on the 4x400 relay. Tech's women's 4x400 relay team have qualified for the NCAA Championships in five-straight seasons.

Carson will compete in the women's javelin throw with a scheduled start time of 5:15 p.m. (PST).

Live Results from the NCAA Championships will be provided by Flash Results.

ATHLETE-BY-ATHLETE OUTLOOK

Bradley Adkins - HIGH JUMP
Texas Tech sophomore high jumper Bradley Adkins makes his second-straight appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and does so as the 2014 Big 12 Champion in the event. Adkins, who finished fifth at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships, matched an outdoor career-best of 2.21m (7'-3") at the conference meet on his third attempt to take home the Big 12 crown - Tech's first in the event since 2003.

The Idalou, Texas native went on to clear four consecutive bars on first attempt at the NCAA West Preliminaries to qualify for the NCAA Championships - and has gone over 7-feet in six of eight meets this season. Adkins has cleared a season-best 2.21-meters (7'-3") twice this season -at each the Big 12 Championships and the Texas Tech Open. The mark ended the 2014 outdoor season No. 9 in the NCAA.

Adkins finished third at the 2014 Big 12 Indoor Championships clearing 2.23m (7'-3.75"). Texas Tech is one of just two schools (Arkansas) who will be represented by two men's high jumpers at the NCAA Championships.

JaCorian Duffield - HIGH JUMP
JaCorian Duffield makes his third- straight appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the high jump after a strong junior campaign. The Big 12 Runner-Up cleared a season-best and school record of 2.26-meters (7'-5.25") at the Red Raider Open (May 3). The mark ended the season at No. 3 in the NCAA and No. 7 among all U.S. jumpers.

With his fifth place finish (tied with teammate Bradley Adkins) at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, Duffield became the first Red Raider in Texas Tech history to earn multiple All-America honors in the event. He finished seventh at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships where he cleared a then-career-best of 2.20-meters (7'-2.50").

Duffield finished Runner-Up at the 2014 Big 12 Indoor Championships clearing a school record and career indoor best of 2.23m (7'-3.75"). Texas Tech is one of just two schools (Arkansas) who will be represented by two men's high jumpers at the NCAA Championships.


Kennedy Kithuka
Kennedy Kithuka - 5,000M & 10,000M Senior distance runner Kennedy Kithuka enters the NCAA Championships in the midst of a historic 2014 outdoor campaign after qualifying in both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter run. The Thika, Kenya was named Big 12 Performer of the Year after sweeping both races in record fashion at the conference meet in May before going on to win both at the NCAA West Preliminaries. He opened the meet with a Big 12 Championship record of 28:48.04 before winning the 5,000-meter run Sunday with a facility record time of 13:54.46.

Kithuka is unbeaten at 5,000-meters this season while his season-best of 13:26.98 (clocked at the Mt. SAC Relays) leads the NCAA. Meanwhile his 10,000-meter season-best of 27:41.73 (clocked at the Payton Jordan Invite) ranks No. 2 in the NCAA and is No. 16 on the IAAF World Rankings for 2014. Both times are Texas Tech school records.

Kithuka was the 2013 Big 12 Cross Country Champion and went on to finish Runner-Up at the NCAA meet in November. He won the 2013 NCAA Indoor 5,000-meter Championship and the 2012 NCAA Cross Country title. Kithuka is a six-time Big 12 Champion and holds five Texas Tech track and field records.

Kole Weldon - SHOT PUT & DISCUS
Kole Weldon makes his return to the NCAA Championships this week, and does so as a qualifier in both the shot put and the discus throw. Weldon has turned in another stellar season highlighted by a historic showing at the conference meet in May. For the second-straight outdoor campaign, Weldon was the only Big 12 athlete to score in each the shot put, hammer and discus throw - finishing Runner-Up in all three. With the 24 points, he was named the High-Point Scorer of the meet - Tech's first in school history for the men's team.


Kole Weldon
Weldon finished third in the shot put at the 2013 NCAA Championships with a throw of 19.28m (63'-3.25") and 14th in the discus with a throw of 56.63m (185'-9"). With the performance in the shot put, he became Tech's first men's All-American outdoors in the event - he became the first indoor All-American with his Runner-Up showing at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Weldon enters the NCAA Championships with a season-best and school record mark of 19.67m (64'-6.50") from a runner-up performance at the Texas Relays in March. The throw ranks No. 13 nationally entering the meet. Meanwhile, his season-best of 62.05m (203'-7") in the discus ranks No. 10 nationally.

Hannah Carson - JAVELIN
Sophomore Lady Raider thrower Hannah Carson makes her return to the NCAA Championships in the javelin throw. The Texas Tech school record holder in the event will look to improve upon a 15th place finish from the 2013 NCAA Championships as a freshman.

Carson enters Historic Hayward Field in Eugene boasting the nation's No. 10 throw with a season-best mark of 54.03 (177-feet 3 inches), which she recorded at the Texas Relays in March. With a top-8 finish this week, Carson would become the first female All-American in the event in school history. Carson finished third at the Big 12 Championships and also earned All-Big 12 honors in the discus throw - an event she also qualified for the NCAA West Preliminaries in. Carson has won six of her eight competitions this season in the javelin - and has four throws over the 170-feet barrier.

Le'Tristan Pledger - 100H
Sophomore Le'Tristan Pledger makes her second-straight trip to the NCAA Championships on the heels of an impressive campaign in the 100-meter hurdles. The Kansas City native broke the Lady Raider school record in the event with time of 12.93 seconds in the preliminaries of the Big 12 Championships. She went on to finish third in the finals with a season-best time of 12.85 with the assistance of a 2.6 m/s tailwind - marking the fastest time in Texas Tech history under all conditions.


Le'Tristan Pledger
Pledger finished 19th in the preliminaries of the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships. She was a NCAA qualifier in both the 60-meter hurdles and long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this year. She won the invitational section of the Texas Relays with a then-season-best time of 13.15 seconds.

Shanice Stewart - HEPTATHLON
Shanice Stewart makes her first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as a Lady Raider following a strong showing at the Big 12 Championships where she finished runner-up with a season-best 5,574 points. Stewart will look to become Tech's second All-American in the heptathlon in the last three years as former Lady Raider Precious Nwokey finished seventh at the NCAA Championships in 2012.

Stewart's 5,574 points at the Big 12 Championships were just 100 off the school record - set by Nwokey in 2012 - and second most all-time at Tech. The performance ended the regular season No. 5 on the NCAA Division I descending order list. Stewart had a career-showing at the Big 12 Championships with personal-bests in each the shot put, high jump, 100-meter hurdles and 800-meter run.

Cierra White - 100M, 200M & 4X400 RELAY
Lady Raider sprinter Cierra White makes her third-straight appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after qualifying in three separate events - the 100m, 200m and as a leg on the Lady Raider 4x400 relay. White earned All-America honors in the 100m at the 2013 NCAA Championships, finishing sixth in the finals of the event - the performance came after becoming the first Lady Raider to win a Big 12 Championship in the event since 2001. White finished runner-up in both the 100m and 200m while helping also guide the 4x100 relay to a runner-up finish at the Big 12 meet in May.


Cierra White

White qualified for the NCAA meet in three events for the second consecutive season after also earning All-America Second Team honors in the 200m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year. White enters the NCAA meet with a season-best of 11.12 in the 100-meters - she went 11.09 with a 4.8 tailwind at the Red Raider Open (May 3). Meanwhile, she has gone a season-best of 23.00 in the 200-meters while clocking a wind assisted 22.61 (4.3 tailwind) in the finals of the Big 12 Championships.

WOMEN'S 4x400 RELAY
The Lady Raider 4x400 relay will make its fifth-straight appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after qualifying with a seventh place finish at the NCAA West Preliminaries in Fayetteville. The squad consists of Montenae Roye-Speight, Amoy Blake, Christen Rivers and All-American sprinter Cierra White.

The Lady Raiders qualified for the NCAA meet without the services of Rivers, but anticipate her return from injury in Eugene. The squad, which won the Big 12 Indoor Championship in March, finished Runner-Up at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships with a season-best time 3:32.69 - also without Rivers. The time not only marked a season-best, but ranks No. 10 all-time at Texas Tech.

Rivers, White, Blake and Tarver return from the 2013 squad that qualified for the NCAA Championships and clocked a season-best of 3:33.52. Sophomore Tiffany Tarver, the Lady Raiders' alternate, ran in place of Rivers at both the conference and West Preliminary meet.

The Lady Raider 4x400 relay most recently earned All-America First Team honors in 2010 and finished 10th in Eugene last year.

 

 

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