ABILENE, Texas – The Texas Tech track and field program hit the road once again Saturday as the No. 10 Red Raiders and No. 19 Lady Raiders competed at the inaugural Wes Kittley Invitational at Elmer Gray Stadium on the Abilene Christian campus.
Led by 15th-year head coach Wes Kittley, who was honored by his alma mater Friday night at the Hunter Welcome Center on the ACU campus, Texas Tech turned in a handful of impressive performances throughout the full day of action.
Lighting up the track early for the Red Raiders, newcomer Trevor Mackey turned in fast performances in both the 100 and 200-meter races. Mackey clocked the fastest wind-aided 200-meter time in program history crossing the finish line in just 20.47 seconds. Earlier the South Plains transfer finished second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.29 – marking the No. 10 wind-aided performance in school history.
Despite being wind-aided, the performances will be considered for national qualifying as the tailwinds were recorded under the allowable 4.0-meters-per-second standard. Wind readings must be under 2.0 m/s to be considered for school or collegiate records.
Mackey’s performance in the 100-meters marked the fastest by a Red Raider under any conditions since the 2010 season when Markus Henderson clocked a 10.27 seconds with a 3.7 m/s tailwind.
Red Raider senior Kennedy Kithuka secured Tech’s first victory of the afternoon with a career-best effort in the 1,500-meter run. The reigning NCAA Cross Country Runner-Up and 2013 NCAA Indoor 5,000-meter Champion crossed the finish line in 3:45.98 – five seconds ahead of teammate Evans Tuitoek in second.
Tuitoek, previously unbeaten at 1,500-meters , crossed in a career-best time of 3:51.19.
Kithuka’s performance marked the sixth-fastest in school history and best by a Red Raider in the event in four years.
In Saturday’s field events, the Lady Raider horizontal jumpers turned in another strong week of performances led by sophomore Gionna Jackson. One week after securing a career-best mark in the triple jump at the Texas Tech Open, Jackson let loose a career-best effort in the long jump. Jackson went 5.98-meters (19’-7.50”) in legal wind to finish second in the competition. She then improved upon her mark from last week in the triple jump going 12.63-meters (41’-5.25”) with a 3.4 m/s tailwind. The leap marked the fourth-best wind-aided jump in school history.
Jackson now ranks in the Top-15 on the NCAA West qualifying list in the triple jump, and among the top-25 in the long jump.
Meanwhile, Red Raider newcomer Jerome Wilson won the men’s long jump with a mark of 7.71-meters (25’-3.50”) with a strong tailwind of 5.1 m/s. The effort marked the No. 8 wind-assisted jump in school history.
Reigning Big 12 and U.S. Junior Champion Nick Rivera competed in the first 800-meter run of his sophomore campaign Saturday, and went on to clock the best time by a Red Raider in the event this season. Rivera finished third crossing the finish line in 1:50.93.
For the second consecutive week junior Red Raider Shujaa Benson clocked a season-best in the 110-meter hurdles. Running alongside 2014 IAAF World Indoor Champion and former Red Raider Omo Osaghae, Benson crossed the finish line second in 13.85 seconds. The performance improved upon his showing from last week in which Benson clocked a 13.96 at the Fuller Track.
Tech went 1-2-3 in the 400-meter hurdles led by senior Dwayne Extol who finished first overall in 52.33 seconds. He was followed by sophomore Tramaine Maloney who clocked a season-best time of 52.33 and freshman JW Smith in third at 53.15 seconds.
The Red Raider relay teams also turned in a strong showing. The 4x100 squad opened the meet finishing second overall in a season-best 40.00 seconds, while the 4x400 squad closed the meet with a first place finish and season-best time of 3:08.63 – which ranks in the Top-10 of the NCAA West qualifying list.
The Lady Raiders also took home a first place finish in the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:41.09.
In the women’s throws, sophomore Hannah Carson earned first place finishes in both the shot put and discus where she recorded collegiate-best marks in both events.
One week after breaking her own facility record in the javelin, Carson let loose a heave of 14.64-meters (48’-0.50”) in the shot put before closing the meet with a toss of 54.90-meters (180’-1”) in the discus. Her mark in the discus ranks in the Top-8 on the current NCAA West qualifying list and was the best by a Lady Raider since school record holder and NCAA National Champion D’Andra Carter in 2009. She entered the meet with the No. 2 mark in the javelin.
Led by Carson, the Lady Raiders went 1-2-3 in the discus to close out the full day of competition as sophomore J’Cee Pool followed in second with a new career-best mark of 48.89-meters (160’-5”).
Meanwhile, one week after breaking the school record in the hammer throw, junior Red Raider Kole Weldon recorded a new career-best in the discus Saturday. Weldon finished second in the competition with a throw of 60.08-meters (197’-1”). It marked his first career throw over the 60-meter barrier, and the best by a Red Raider in the discus since 2011.
Weldon opened his day with a first place finish in the shot put where he finished with a best throw of 18.70-meters (61’-4.25”).
Texas Tech will compete next week at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.