LUBBOCK, Texas –Texas Tech track and field put together another strong showing Friday as they hosted the Red Raider Invitational.
After the meet, when Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Wes Kittley asked members of his team to raise their hand if they recorded a personal best, he saw 21 hands – up from 17 last weekend.
"I love seeing them get the confidence, and that's why I ask that question," said Kittley. "You're just getting started in the first two meets of the year, but we're seeing some great performances. There are a lot of opportunities for kids to gain confidence, and that's what it's all about."
After running a personal best 6.65 to win last weekend's 60m, Andrew Hudson came back Friday and PR'd in the 200m. At 20.41, the mark took over as the top time in the world as of the conclusion of the meet. He then anchored the 4x400 started by Divine Oduduru, Vincent Crisp and Tyreek Mathis to guide them to a 3:04.93 – the second-fastest time in program history.
Sara Limp also put together another successful weekend after besting her personal record in the 60m last weekend. This week, the senior went for 23.60 to PR in the 200m while finishing second. Later on in the 4x400, she again found herself leading a comeback in the second leg that would set D'Jenne Egharevba and Damajahnee Birch up for the win. This time, they won comfortably with a five-second difference between Tech and LSU. Friday marked the second weekend Limp has used the second leg to give Tech a lead they would not relinquish.
"I love chasing people, and so I love second leg because when I get that baton I know I'll be chasing someone," Limp said.
Odaine Lewis and Charles Brown further solidified themselves as the top jumps duo in the nation – and possibly the world – after Friday's meet. Already holding down the top-two spots in the NCAA in the long jump, Lewis (53'-11.25) and Brown (52'-4.75") locked down the first and second national spots in the triple jump, respectively.
"I was really pleased with those two," said Kittley. "That will easily get Odaine in the national meet, and Charles has a lot more opportunity to jump much further. It's really early, but I'm very proud of where they are at this point in the season."
Chinne Okoronkwo continued to show her athleticism after jumping into the program all-time pole vault top-10 last weekend. This weekend, the Wisconsin transfer triple jumped 43'-3.25" (13.19m) to secure a national rank of second. She finished the meet with with a lead of three full feet on the rest of the Big 12's female triple jumpers.
Duke Kicinski put together a solid two-event day which culminated with a comeback win in the shot put. The senior went into his last throw trailing Houston senior Felipe Valencia by over a foot, but pulled through with a 59'-6.75" (18.15m) on his last attempt to pick up the win. Earlier in the day, he PR'd in the weight throw with a 64'-8.75" (19.73m) to rank fifth in program history. The mark was good for second place on the day.
"Duke had a really good day today with his personal best in the weight throw," Kittley said. "When you do both throws in the same day, it's tough. He had a really good day for being out here all day."
On the women's side of throws, Seasons Usual turned in a personal record in the weight throw for a second straight weekend. She recorded a 60'-4.75" (18.41m), which was good for third.
Kittley believes Usual's success in throws is cause for excitement at how well-rounded the team is becoming.
"I'm feeling good about how solid we're becoming all-round," he said. "Sprints, hurdles, jumps, distance, middle distance and throws. We've just got to keep going."
With another large showing of fans at the Sports Performance Center on Friday, Kittley made it a point to speak on the atmosphere provided by the home crowd.
"It's just incredible what our home crowd can do," he said. "That crowd just lifts you, and our kids thrive on it."
The Red Raiders will be right back at it in Lubbock again next weekend for three days of competition with the Texas Tech Classic. The first day, Thursday, will feature combined events, while the next two will include the traditional track and field events.