LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech track & field is set to compete at the 2018 Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium in College Station, Texas, both tomorrow and Saturday.
The Red Raiders men are looking to earn their second title this year, going straight from a conference title win to competing at the national championship meet, entering with a No. 1 national ranking. Tech has a total of 12 entries, 11 of which are male. This marks the most qualifying entries in program history.
HOW TO WATCH
ESPN will be providing meet coverage on both days through WatchESPN, with a direct link located HERE. Live results will also be provided by Flash Results.
Five Red Raiders claimed regional Athlete and Coach of the Year awards. Three of these honors were wrangled by coaches, while the other two were student-athletes honored for their high jump performances. Head coach Wes Kittley hailed the Men’s Coach of the Year award, marking back-to-back years that he has earned the honor. Kittley led the men’s team to their first-ever Big 12 Indoor Championship win, notching the most points scored in program history. This year’s national meet has the most Red Raider qualifiers in program history, sitting at a total of 11 male entries. Assistant Calvin Robinson was named the men’s assistant of the year for his coaching efforts in the men’s sprints group. Robinson led two of his athletes to claim Big 12 individual titles, allowing them to both clinch a share of the high point scorer award. At the national meet, Robinson will have a total of five entries. James Thomas was awarded the women’s assistant coach of the year, attributed mainly to his two athletes who have claimed top-10 Texas Tech records in all of their high jump and pentathlon performances this year. One of these athletes is the sole female qualifier for the Red Raiders. Zarriea Willis is heading back to College Station for the national meet for the second year in a row with her Field Athlete of the Year honor in hand. Willis claimed the school and facility record height of 1.89m/6-2.25, ranking her second in the nation. Trey Culver joins Willis, hailing the Men’s Field Athlete of the Year award for the first time ever. Culver won the Big 12 indoor high jump competition to take his first indoor conference crown. He also leapt an impressive 2.33m/7-7.75 bar to claim the No. 4 all-time NCAA record and school record.
RETURNING INDOOR ALL-AMERICANS
Six student-athletes are returning to College Station for the second year in a row, four of which are individual qualifiers and two are relay contributors. Trey Culver looks to take his third indoor high jump national title, which would make an NCAA first-ever back-to-back-to-back national champion. Culver wrangled last year’s title in College Station from a 2.26m/7-5 personal-best leap. This year, Culver will enter with a new No. 1 nationally-ranked best of 2.33m/7-7.75, in hopes to push the bar even higher. Zarriea Willis will also be returning in the women’s high jump, making her second indoor nationals appearance. Willis wrangled first-team honors last year with an eighth-place finishing height of 1.81m/5-11.25. Willis enters the competition with a second-place nationally ranked 1.89m/6-2.25 bar. Charles Brown is the third jumps squad returner, exiting last year’s national meet with three second-team honors in the long jump, triple jump and high jump competitions. This year, Brown is qualified in the long jump (8.03m/26-4.25) and triple jump (16.30m/53-5.75) with No. 2 and No. 9 ranked marks. Andrew Hudson is the fourth individual returner, bringing second team 200m All-America honors back to Lubbock after last year’s competition. This season, Hudson is ranked No. 4 and No. 13 nationally with his 200m and 60m marks of 20.49@ and 6.62. Steven Champlin and C.J. Jones are the two senior legs of the 4x400-meter relay, both taking part in the No. 3 all-time Texas Tech relay run of 3:05.18 to qualify for their last indoor national meet. The two contributed to last year’s sixth-place finishing 3:05.63 relay, sealing the Red Raiders’ 14th-place team finish.
TOPPING THE RANKS
The men’s team notched a first-place national ranking for the fourth-consecutive week in the USTFCCCA computer rankings. This is the longest nation-leading streak held by a Texas Tech program. Of the 11 male entries in the national meet, four athletes will be competing with individual entries for their first time at the indoor meet. Freshman sprinter Divine Oduduru is the leader of those entries with his national and world leading 200m mark of 20.18 (20.25@), accompanied by his 6.58 (6.60@) 60m time. Oduduru has reworked the Texas Tech indoor record book, inking his name on the top-10 all-time list in every single performance this season. Oduduru has also stamped his name in the national records, as the third-fastest 200m time in indoor collegiate history at 20.18. Oduduru went on to sweep the conference title in the 200m and take a second-place finish in the 60m to share the high point scorer award with teammate Andrew Hudson. In the men’s pole vault, Brandon Bray and Drew McMichael will be battling for new personal-best marks. Both enter the national meet with their No. 11 ranked 5.50m/18-0.50 marks from the season. These heights notched No. 2 all-time Texas Tech marks. Vincent Crisp qualified for his first-ever indoor 800m race with a 1:48.01 run, calculated to 1:47.70 at altitude, that ranks ninth heading into the meet.
ON THE DOCKET
Next up, the Red Raiders will open up their outdoor slate in San Antonio, Texas, at the UTSA Invitational on March 16-17.