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Season Preview: Texas Tech Track And Field

Red Raiders and Lady Raiders open 2014 with Texas Tech Open Jan. 17-18
LUBBOCK, Texas – The Texas Tech track and field team opens its 2014 indoor season this weekend as the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders host the annual Texas Tech Open inside the Athletic Training Center. The program enters the season under the guidance of 15th-year head coach Wes Kittley.
 
Texas Tech returns seven All-Americans from the 2013 squad including NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Runner-Up in the shot put Kole Weldon along with three legs from the All-America and school record holding women's indoor 4x400 relay.
 
The Red Raiders finished fifth overall at the NCAA Indoor Championships before securing their fourth-straight top-25 finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Texas Tech Open begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday and continues Saturday morning beginning at 10 a.m.
 
SPRINTS
Texas Tech returns the services of reigning Big 12 100-meter Champion and First Team All-American Cierra White for her junior season in 2014. White is fresh off a breakout 2013 campaign in which she became the first Lady Raider to capture a conference title in the 100-meter dash in 12 years. White went on the finish sixth overall at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. to cap off her stellar season. She set school records in each the 100-meter dash (11.09) and outdoor 200-meter dash (22.89). Her mark of 11.09 in the 100-meter dash also broke a 27-year-old Terry and Linda Fuller Track and Field Complex facility record while ending the season at No. 4 on the collegiate list and No. 28 in the IAAF World Rankings.
 
Meanwhile, Tech also returns junior Christen Rivers who advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400-meter dash and clocked the Lady Raiders' fastest time of the season in the event last year.
 
On the men's side, the Red Raiders add five freshman sprinters to a crop led by returners Dwayne Extol and Joseph Richards III. Richards III earned All-Big 12 honors at both the indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships in the 400-meter dash.
 
HURDLES
Texas Tech will look to continue its reputation as one of the top hurdles programs in the country as the 2014 season gets underway. The Red Raiders and Lady Raiders have produced at least one First Team All-American in the hurdles events in each of the last 13 years. In 2014, the Red Raiders return sophomore Tramaine Maloney, who as a freshman earned All-Big 12 honors in both the 60-meter hurdles and the 110-meter hurdles before advancing to the NCAA West Preliminaries. Tech will look to replace graduated senior and school record holder Katie Grimes on the women's side. Grimes earned All-America First Team honors in the 60-meter hurdles during her senior season, and was a national qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles.
 
DISTANCE
Two-time NCAA Champion Kennedy Kithuka highlights the Texas Tech distance runners as he returns to the track for his senior campaign. Kithuka took home the 2013 NCAA Indoor 5,000-meter title before finishing runner-up at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championship in November. Kithuka owns three Texas Tech indoor records while also helping to set the school record in the distance medley relay as the anchor leg. Furthermore he swept the Big 12 Indoor Championships in both the 3,000-meters and 5,000-meters. He will compete in his first outdoor season as a Red Raider in 2014, and has exhausted his eligibility indoors.
 
Alongside Kithuka will be senior Ezekiel Kissorio and sophomore Nick Rivera. Rivera returns for his sophomore campaign after a breakout season in which he won Big 12 titles in both the indoor and outdoor 800-meters, becoming the first Big 12 athlete since 2008 to sweep the event at both conference meets. He went on to win gold at the U.S. Junior Track and Field Championships. Kissorio earned All-Big 12 honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finishing fourth at the conference meet before advancing to the NCAA West Preliminaries in the event for the second-straight season.
 
For the Lady Raiders, senior Sharlene Nickle returns for the 2014 season after earning All-Big 12 honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2013. McKenzie Archer also returns for her sophomore season after finishing eighth at the 2013 Big 12 Indoor Championships in the 1,000-meter run.
 
HORIZONTAL JUMPS
Texas Tech returns the services of 2013 Big 12 Indoor Triple Jump Runner-Up Avril McGhee for her junior campaign. McGhee has gone a career-best 41-feet 5.25 inches in the event, and in 2013 advanced to the NCAA West Preliminary meet. The Lady Raiders will also look to sophomore Gionna Jackson, who as a freshman in 2013 earned All-Big 12 honors in the triple jump finishing 7th at the indoor conference meet. She went on to also earn All-Big 12 honors in the long jump at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.
 
Tech also adds freshman Paetyn Revell, a two-time triple-jump silver medalist at the Texas State Championship. Meanwhile, Aliyah Harmon, 2012 Illinois Outdoor Long Jump Silver Medalist and 2011 Junior Olympic Long Jump Bronze Medalist, along with Viershanie Latham - the 2013 Texas 5A State Bronze Medalist - will also add depth to the Lady Raider horizontal jumpers in 2014.
 
The Red Raiders return Shujaa Benson, who finished the 2013 outdoor season strong, going 24-feet 10.50 inches at the Red Raider Open in his first long jump competition of the season. He went on to advance to the NCAA West Preliminaries and returns as one of the strongest athletes in the event for the Red Raiders. Tech will look to replace 2013 NCAA Indoor Triple Jump Champion and school record holder Bryce Lamb who departs after graduating last spring.
 
VERTICAL JUMPS
The Red Raiders return a deep roster of high jumpers for the 2014 campaign, including junior JaCorian Duffield and sophomore Bradley Adkins who finished second and third at the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor Championships respectively. Duffield and Adkins have both cleared 7-feet multiple times in their careers and both were national qualifiers during the outdoor season. Duffield went on to finish seventh overall at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
 
Adkins also finished third at the Big 12 Indoor Championships.
 
Tech will also look for added depth with newcomer Dayton Fisher who cleared 7-1 as a standout high jumper at Sudan (Texas) High School. Fisher won gold in the high jump at the 2012 Texas State High School Meet.
Meanwhile, senior pole vaulter Kyal Meyers, who won the 2011 Big 12 Indoor Championship as a freshman, returns for the 2014 season. Meyers has cleared a career-best 17-feet 9 inches as a junior during the 2013 indoor season - a height that ended the regular season at No. 18 on the collegiate performance list. He also cleared 17-9 during the 2012 outdoor season.
 
On the women's side, Michaela Palu returns for her junior campaign. The San Antonio native earned All-Big 12 honors during the 2013 outdoor season. Palu has cleared a career-best 5-feet 7.25 inches as a freshman during the 2012 outdoor season.
The Lady Raiders will also look for depth with the addition of Alexis Lewis who was ranked No. 1 in the high jump in 2012 and went a career-best 5-11 at North Crowley High School.
 
THROWS
Texas Tech junior Kole Weldon highlights the Tech throwers in 2014 on the heels of a historic 2013 campaign in which he finished runner-up at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Weldon also finished runner-up at the Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor Championships - furthermore he was the only thrower to earn all-conference honors in each the shot put, discus and hammer throw at the 2013 outdoor meet. Weldon holds the indoor school record in the shot put with a mark of 65-feet 8.25 which he recorded at the national meet. Meanwhile, senior Jorge Garcia returns for the 2014 season after earning All-Big 12 honors at the 2013 outdoor conference meet finishing eighth. He advanced to the NCAA West Preliminaries and recorded a season-best throw of 58-feet 3.75 inches at the Red Raider Open during the 2013 indoor season.
 
Highlighting the Lady Raider throwers will be sophomore and school record holder Hannah Carson who advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the javelin as a freshman. Carson broke her own school record mark last year with a throw of 171-feet 1 inch at the Texas Relays in Austin. The sophomore already owns each of the top-10 throws in school history.
 
RELAYS
Texas Tech will look to continue its strong tradition in the relay events as the 2014 season arrives. The Lady Raiders finished seventh overall at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships to earn First Team All-America honors before qualifying both the 4x100 and 4x400 squads for the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the fourth-straight season.
 
Tech returns Amoy Blake, Cierra White and Christen Rivers from the All-America indoor squad while Blake and Rivers return to the outdoor squad.
 
Meanwhile, the Red Raiders return two legs in Joseph Richards III, Dwayne Extol from an indoor 4x400 relay squad that finished third at the Big 12 Championships.
 
Tech also returns two legs in Richards III and Extol from the men's 4x100 relay team that finished third at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships last season.
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