LUBBOCK, Texas - Fresh off one of the most impressive performances this season the No. 3 Red Raiders and No. 6 Lady Raiders are primed to compete for the Big 12 Championships this weekend. Action begins Friday afternoon with the field events starting at 11 a.m. followed by the opening day of the Heptathlon and Decathlon. The meet will continue through Sunday at the R.V. Christian Track Complex at Kansas State.
"I think we gained a lot of confidence last weekend," head coach Wes Kittley said. "We're excited to compete for the Big 12 Championship at K-State and hopefully relive some good memories."
Kittley and his team will return to the track where the Red Raiders captured the 2005 Big 12 Championship and will look for a repeat of the performance. They will do so with a team loaded with some of the top athletes in the conference. Texas Tech enters the weekend with athletes ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 in six separate events.
Last weekend, Texas Tech capped off an impressive performance in the final home outdoor meet of the season. Two school records were broken and senior sprinter Gil Roberts made his debut in the 400 meter dash, earning a first place finish with a time of 44.93 and leaping to the top spot in the country.
The Lady Raider 4x100 relay team opened the running events at the Red Raider Open by breaking a seven-year school record with a time of 43.43. Junior pole vaulter Shade Weygandt, who earned Big 12 Athlete of the Week honors Wednesday, followed by breaking her own school record with a clearance of 4.50 meters (14'-9.00").
Both the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders will look to ride the momentum from last weekend into the Big 12 Championships beginning Friday afternoon as Precious Nwokey opens competition for Texas Tech by competing in the first day of the women's heptathlon.
Tech Pole Vaulters
A pair of Tech pole vaulters have held the conference lead for the majority of the 2012 outdoor season. Junior Shade Weygandt and sophomore Kyal Meyers have both had impressive 2012 seasons, and with it lead the pack in the Big 12 entering the conference championships . Weygandt enters the conference championships with a firm lead in the event after breaking a school record and setting a new personal best with a vault of 4.50 meters (14'-9.00") just last weekend at the Red Raider Open. She moved to No. 2 on the national list with the clearance and also met the Olympic qualifying `A' standard. Meanwhile sophomore Kyal Meyers leads the Big 12 men's pole vault with a season best clearance of 5.41 meters (17'-9.00"), a personal best, which he cleared at the Texas Tech Open on April 14.
Jamele Mason and Shane Brathwaite, have jumped out to fast starts to the season, both ranking among the top in the nation. Shane Brathwaite enters this week as the No. 5 110 meter hurdler in the country (No. 1 in the Big 12) with a season-best time of 13.43 recorded at the Texas Relays. He also ranks No. 16 nationally, No. 3 in the Big 12, in the 400 meter hurdles. Meanwhile teammate Jamele Mason ranks No. 2 nationally in the 400 meter hurdles with a season-best time of 49.85 which he recorded on April 7 at the LSU Invitational `Battle on the Bayou'. He also ranks No. 10 in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 13.75. Mason's times rank No. 1 and No. 4 in the Big 12. Junior Katie Grimes enters the Big 12 Championships ranked No. 9 nationally in the 100 meter hurdles and No. 3 in the Big 12.
Bryce Lamb has a knack for getting off to fast starts and has done it again during the 2012 outdoor season. After earning first team All-American honors during the indoor season with a third place finish at the NCAA Indoor Cham¬pionships he hasn't missed a beat. At the Texas Relays, Lamb recorded a season-best mark of 7.94 meters (26'-0.75") on his second attempt. The jump ranks No. 3 in the country entering this weekend. Lamb is a four-time USTFCCCA All-American in the long jump and in 2010 he was named Performer of the Year and Outstanding Freshman by the Big 12 Conference during the indoor season.
Precious Nwokey has made an immediate impact on the Texas Tech track and field squad since transferring from Kentucky. The senior broke the school heptathlon record at the Texas Relays with a total of 5,333 points to finish third overall. The point-total ranks second in the Big 12 and No. 12 nationally. Nwokey also ranks No. 14 nationally in the 100 meter hurdles and No. 21 in the long jump. She's also a member of the 4x400 relay team that ranks No. 7 nationally.
Senior Gil Roberts leads the Texas Tech sprinters into the Big 12 Championships after putting on a show last weekend at the Red Raider Open winning the 400 meter dash with a time of 44.93 (later adjusted to 45.04 for altitude) to jump to the national lead. Roberts was later named Big 12 Athlete of the Week on Wednesday. Along with Roberts, Terra Evans, Taylor Evans and Candace Jackson each look to make noise in Manhattan. Terra Evans ranks No. 3 in the Big 12 in the 100 meter dash with a season-best time of 11.22. Meanwhile her sister Taylor ranks No. 4 in the 200 meter with a season-best time 23.09. Candace Jackson is tied with Taylor Evans in the No. 4 spot, also with a season-best time of 23.09.
Kole Weldon has had a banner year in 2012, and it only continued at the Red Raider Open last weekend. Weldon placed first in the shot put and the sopho¬more transfer from Midwestern set a personal record in the shot put last weekend at the Red Raider Open with a mark of 18.10 meters (59'-4.75"). He placed first in the shot and second in the discus. His personal best throw of 59.92 meters (196'-7.00") in the discus ranks No. 4 in the country entering this weekend. Weldon has a total of five wins in the shot put and six top-five finishes in the discus this season.
Ifeatu Okafor has established herself as one of the top throwers at Texas Tech. Okafor has captured four first place finishes in the shot put and three in the discus. Last weekend at the Red Raider Open, Okafor won the shot put with a season-best mark of 16.98 meters (55'-8.50") and also placed first in the discus. She had a personal-best mark of 55.43 (181'-10") to run away with the victory in the discus at the West Texas A&M Open. Okafor's throw was the best by a Lady Raider since the 2009 season and currently ranks No. 9 in the country. Okafor is a two-time All-American in the shot put and also holds the school record in the event.
Tech Distance Runners
Rose Tanui leads the Texas Tech distance runners this weekend and enters the Big 12 ranked No. 3 in the Big 12 in the 10,000 meters and No. 5 in the 5,000 meters. Tanui ran a season-best time of 33:08.70 in the 10,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational and a season-best time of 16:14.67 in the 5,000 meters at the Mt. SAC Relays. Meanwhile, Caroline Jepleting ranks No. 5 in the Big 12 in the 1,500 meters with a season-best time of 4:22.30.