(Texas Tech Press Release: Britton Drown)
LUBBOCK, Texas – Kennedy Kithuka finally had the opportunity to bring his show home to West Texas Friday at the Big 12 Track and Field Championships - and what a performance it was.
The already decorated senior leapt out to a commanding lead in the men’s 10,000-meter nightcap and never looked back en route to breaking the Big 12 Championship meet record with a time of 28 minutes 48.04 seconds.
“It was a good race,” he said. “I was working very hard to get this championship and get 10 points. We hope for more tomorrow and Sunday.”
Kithuka, who lapped the field 3,600-meters into the race, broke the previous Big 12 meet record by four seconds while also setting a new Fuller Track facility record in the process. With the dominant performance he becomes Texas Tech’s second Big 12 10,000-meter Champion in program history joining Kevin Chelimo from 2007. Kithuka has now won three Big 12 individual track and field titles and two Big 12 cross country championships in his Red Raider career.
“It was just overwhelming for everybody watching him,” Texas Tech head coach Wes Kittley said. “It was a very good start for us. I hope our athletes fed off of it and that it continues into tomorrow.”
The No. 6 Red Raiders picked up 18 points on the opening day of competition, and enter Saturday third in the team standings. The Lady Raiders, following a sixth place finish by sophomore Hannah Carson, closed the day with six points.
Kole Weldon picked up eight points for the Red Raiders earlier in Friday’s action with a runner-up performance in the men’s hammer throw. Weldon let loose a best throw of 59.24-meters (194’-4”) on his second attempt of the afternoon, securing his second-straight All-Conference honor in the event. He is scheduled to compete in the shot put Saturday and the discus on Sunday.
Weldon was the only athlete in the Big 12 to earn All-Conference honors in all three events last year.
Earlier on the track, junior Lady Raider Shanice Stewart turned in career-best performance in each of the first four events of the women’s heptathlon tallying 3,522 points on the day. She enters Saturday in second behind reigning NCAA Champion Lindsay Vollmer of Kansas.
Stewart won the shot put with a career-best throw of 13.54-meters (44’-5.25”), finished second in the 100-meter hurdles (13.70), third in the high jump (5’-7.00”), and fifth in the 200-meter dash (25.04).
Meanwhile freshman high jumper Cameron Knight competed in the men’s decathlon, and wrapped up Friday’s events in eighth place with 2,985 points.
Sophomore Hannah Carson went on to get the Lady Raiders their first points of the meet finishing third in the women’s javelin with a throw of 53.28-meters (174’-10”). Each of the top three finishers in the javelin broke the Fuller Track and Field Complex record, while Oklahoma’s Elizabeth Herrs won the event with a Big 12 Championships record heave of 57.73-meters (189’-5”).
Freshman Lady Raider Jocelyn Caro finished ninth in the women’s 10,000-meters where she crossed the finish line in 36:35.31.
The Big 12 Championships continue Saturday with events beginning at 10 a.m. with the continuation of the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon. The preliminaries of the running events begin at 6 p.m.