LUBBOCK, Texas – The home debut for the Texas Tech track and field teams was nothing short of perfect for head coach Wes Kittley.
On a calm Friday night at the Fuller Track and Field Complex, the second-ranked Tech men's program and the No. 17 women's team defended their home track, topping the likes of Nebraska, Kansas State and Wichita State to claim both team titles in the inaugural Corky/Crofoot Shootout.
"Our kids love running at home," Kittley said. "We don't go to many scored meets. Nebraska is notoriously known for winning dual and quad meets, and Wichita State also loves that. We had a great, fun time and great competition. It's always fun to win."
Both team titles were all but determined prior to the 4x400 meter finale as the women's team won with 218 points, while the men's program racked up 213.5 points of its own. Nebraska took second on both sides with 206.5 points with the men's team and 200 for the women.
The Lady Raiders opened the night with a strong showing in the 4x100 meter relay as the team of Kaylor Harris, Daja Gordon, Tiffani Johnson and Sara Limp edged K-State for first with a 44.21, their best time so far this season.
The Red Raiders followed with a similar strong performance as Darien Tennon, Divine Oduduru, Andrew Hudson and Charles Brown clocked a 39.01 to run away with the event. The time matched their best of the season.
Johnson later clocked a 11.39 time in the 100 meters to win the event and then a 23.38 in the 200 meter to finish second just in front of Gordon, who was a shade behind her at 23.57 seconds. Oduduru, likewise, had an impressive showing in the men's 200 meters as he won the event with a 20.15, the fifth-fastest time in Division-I so far this season.
"We had a lot of good things tonight, and we always do at home," Kittley said. "I just think they just love to run at home. Getting the best weather we've had all year really made a difference."
The Red Raiders entered the final two events with a four-point lead before Joacim Zuniga and Stephen Alvarez finished first and second, respectively, in the men's 5000 meters. Zuniga won the event at 15:09.94, while Alvarez chased shortly behind at 15:10.45, a hair in front of Nebraska's Mark Freyhof in third place.
The top-two finish gave the Red Raiders plenty of room heading into the night's finale in the 4x400 meter relay where the men's team of Jessie McNary, Norman Grimes, Vincent Crisp and Isaac Shepard were in second to Nebraska with a time of 3:12.81.
"I'll tell you what was fun was seeing our 5k guys," Kittley said of Zuniga and Alvarez. "We are four points ahead going into the 5k, and they knew that. I was impressed with the battle and the fight I saw out of them tonight in wanting to win for the team. That really pleased me."
Tech also scored high in several field events, namely the men's pole vault where Brandon Bray (5.37 meters) and Drew McMichael (5.37 meters) claimed the top-two spots. The duo was vaulting for a school record at 5.52 meters (18-1 ¼ feet) when the event concluded with Bray winning based on fewest misses.
The Red Raiders also secured the top three spots in the long jump with Odaine Lewis winning at 7.92 meters. He was followed by Charles Brown at 7.89 meters for second place and Justin Hall at 7.79 meters in third.
On the women's side, Zarriea Willis and Cyre Virgo finished first and second in the high jump after clearing 1.84 meters (6-0 ½ feet) and 1.81 meters (5-11 ¼ feet), respectively. Paetyn Revell, meanwhile, won the triple jump at 13.29 on her first attempt of the event.
"I felt like we made big gains tonight," Kittley said. "We gained quite a bit of confidence with a lot of kids. We will tune up a little bit with some kids next Saturday here again. A lot of the kids we will shut down and get ready for the Big 12s and finals that are coming up soon."
Texas Tech returns to the Fuller Track and Field Complex next weekend to host the Masked Rider Open. The May 5 meet marks Tech's final prep before the Big 12 Outdoor Championships on May 10-13 in Waco.