LUBBOCK, Texas – It took some time. Four-and-a-half hours to be exact, but those who stayed inside the ATC late Friday night for the final men’s event of the day were treated with perhaps the most exciting moments of Texas Tech’s season-opening meet.
With a strong crowd still on hand and pressed up against the black railings near the high jump mat, junior high jumper JaCorian Duffield took down the longest-standing indoor school record still on the book. Six clean jumps into the competition, the Schertz, Texas native planted on his first attempt at the record height, and sailed over the bar set at 2.23-meters – or 7-feet 3.75 inches.
He attempted the height almost exactly one year ago inside the same building, but it took until Friday night for the now seasoned junior to stamp his name in Tech history as a school record holder.
“It was good,” Duffield said. “I’ve taken jumps at it a lot. It pretty much sums up my whole career. The preparation, the downfalls but I was finally able to put it all together. It’s a true blessing.”
The performance capped off the first of two days of competition inside the Athletic Training Center as part of the annual Texas Tech Open.
Duffield finished first overall in the men’s high jump with his clearance of 7’-3.75”, which ranks tied for the national lead as of Friday’s latest results. He was followed by sophomore teammate Bradley Adkins who finished runner-up to Duffield with a career-best indoor clearance of 2.20-meters (7’-2.50”) – which ties for second nationally.
“It was great.” assistant coach James Thomas, who oversees the high jumpers, said of the group. “It’s been one of those falls where they have pushed themselves. They know they need to step up to help our program.”
The full afternoon of competition opened with a strong showing in the sprints and hurdles events.
Lady Raider sophomore Le’Tristan Pledger also had a historic performance – sprinting her way through three rounds of the 55-meter hurdles before finishing first overall in the finals. Pledger clocked times of 7.75 in the preliminaries, 7.74 in the semifinals and again a 7.75 to finish first in the final round. Her now season-best of 7.74 seconds ranks tied for No. 3 all-time on the Texas Tech performance list with former Lady Raider All-American Katie Grimes.
Meanwhile, junior thrower Kole Weldon got a strong start to his 2014 campaign with a first place finish in the men’s shot put with a heave of 19.63-meters (64’-5.00”). It marked his second best career toss indoors, while the mark ranked No. 4 nationally as of Friday night.
Weldon’s teammates Jorge Garcia and Kyle Gooch also had strong performances with Garcia finishing third by way of a career-best toss of 17.88-meters (58’-8.00”). Gooch finished fifth with a throw of 16.39-meters (53’-9.25”).
The Lady Raiders swept the top-three spots in the pole vault led by freshman Reece Timmons who cleared 3.80-meters (12’-5.50”). She was followed by sophomore Hayley Cook in second who cleared 2.65-meters (11’-11.75”) and freshman Blake Wood in third clearing 3.50-meters (11’-5.75”).
In the women’s 600-yard run, Lady Raider newcomer Monenae Roye-Speight finished second overall with an impressive time of 1:22.49 – which ranks No. 6 all-time at Tech in the event.
Big 12 800-meter Champion Nick Rivera turned in a career-best performance in the 1,000-meter run finishing second with a time of 2:29.96. He was followed by teammate Kendall McVey in fourth who clocked a career-best 2:31.65.
The Red Raiders and Lady Raiders will resume competition at the Texas Tech Open Saturday with events beginning at 10 a.m. inside the Athletic Training Center.