A collection of some of the nation’s best student-athletes will compete at Texas Tech University this weekend in the 2014 Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. TTU is hosting the event, which starts Friday and ends Sunday, for the first time since 2009.
Four men’s teams and four women’s squads enter the event ranked in the top 25 nationally. Nine competitors - five men, four women - rank first in the nation in their respective events.
On the men’s side, Oklahoma State is ranked No. 5. The Cowboys are followed by No. 6 Texas Tech, No. 10 Texas, and No. 13 Baylor. The Longhorns captured the title last year and will look to claim their sixth championship at the event.
Kansas’ women enter the meet ranked 16th in the nation. The Jayhawks are defending Big 12 and national champions. Texas stands at No. 2 in the country and will look to sweep the Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles for the fifth time and first since 2006. Baylor is ranked 14th in the nation, while Kansas State rounds out the ranked women squads at No. 21.
The javelin, hammer throw and 10,000-meter run will be the only finals on the opening day. Field event finals will be split between Saturday and Sunday. Running preliminaries will take place on Saturday while the Decathlon and Heptathlon champions will be crowned. Sunday’s action will include all running event finals, along with several field events and will start with the discus at 11 a.m.
Single-Session tickets for the championships are now available through the Texas Tech Athletics Ticket Office. Fans may purchase tickets online, over the phone, (806) 742-8324, or by visiting the Texas Tech Ticket Office located inside the north end zone building of Jones AT&T Stadium.
Single-Session tickets grant admission to one of three full days of competition at the meet. Tickets have been priced at $10 for adults and $5 for you and students.
Tickets for Friday’s 10,000-meter races will be reduced to $2 beginning at 7 p.m.
Men’s team-by-team updates:
The 15th-ranked Bears are led by their sprint and hurdle crews as they enter the 2014 Big 12 Championships. Freshman Trayvon Bromell owns the conference’s fastest time at both the 100 (10.01) and 200-meter (20.23) distances. Meanwhile, senior Blake Heriot is second in the 200 meters (20.45) and third in the 400 meters (46.38). In the hurdles, Bryce Grace boasts the conference’s best mark (13.64) at the 110-meter distance, while TJ Holmes is second in the 400-hurdles with a time of 51.18. Bromell and Heriot are part of Baylor’s 4x100-meter relay team that also includes Everett Walker and Alex Reece. That quartet leads the Big 12 with a time of 39.09. In total, Baylor has 17 performances that rank inside the conference’s top 10 marks.
The Cyclones are led by national No. 3 and conference-leader Edward Kemboi in the 800m. Kemboi will chase his outdoor PR of 1:46.06 and capture his 4th-career conference title. Cameron Ostrowski looks to defend his indoor high-jump title. Senior Mohamed Hrezi will look to score team points in the 5K and 10K, while freshman Derek Jones hopes to score big points in the 400-meter hurdles. Henry Kelley and Jan Jeuschede both look to get on the podium in the hammer throw and in the shot put, while No. 2-seeded Kevin Poster will try for an upset in the triple jump.
The Jayhawks will be led by two-time All-American Michael Stigler, this year’s collegiate leader in the 400-meter hurdles. The junior has won each of the last two Big 12 titles in the event and will look to pull off a rare three-peat this weekend in Lubbock. The Jayhawk men will also bring a host of conference title contenders in the field events. Junior pole vaulter Casey Bowen has the league’s second highest clearance this year at 5.50 meters (18’0.5”), while senior Alex Bishop, the Big 12’s 2013 indoor champion, will try to return to the top of the podium. Freshman Mitchell Cooper, a native of Australia, will be a top medal contender in the discus.
The Wildcats are led by seniors Jharyl Bowry, Devin Dick, Carlos Rodriguez and Kyle Wait. Bowry holds the second best conference mark in the long jump at 7.56m, while Wait is No. 3 in the pole vault with a height cleared of 5.35m. Dick, along with sophomore Reinis Kregers, occupy two of the top-three decathlon marks in the Big 12, while on the track Rodriguez holds top-10 conference times in the 100m, 200m and 400m. Rounding out a deep Wildcat men’s squad is the their throws group of Ryan Hershberger in the shot put, Alex Roe in the hammer throw and Ivan Hartung in the javelin, who each hold top-five conference marks in their respective events.
The Sooners will rely on contenders in distance races and field events. OU has the top-ranked entry in the long jump (freshman Nolan Hay), triple jump (freshman Hayden McClain) and javelin (sophomore Tyler Renton). Renton has help in the javelin as OU also has the second and fifth ranked entries in that event. The Sooners will also be looking for points from entries in events from the 1,500 up to the 10,000. Brandon Doughty has the second best time in the conference in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Senior Patrick Gomez is ranked eighth in the event as well. Abbabiya Simbassa is ranked third in the 10,000 and he has the experience to perform well.
Coming off the Big 12 indoor championship, the Cowboys have five competitors ranked in the NCAA top 10 lists. Shadrack Kipchirchir (27:36.79) holds the No. 1 spot in the 10,000 meters, 2013 Big 12 Outdoor 5,000 meter champion Kirubel Erassa (13:27.55) ranks No. 2 in the 5,000 meters, Chad Noelle (3:40.06) sits at No. 4 in the 1,500 meters, two-time Big 12 hammer throw champion Nick Miller (74.37m/244-0) claims the No. 1 spot in the hammer and John Teeters (10.14) is No. 7 in the 100 meter dash. Kipchirchir's time is the No. 9 mark in NCAA history, and Miller's throw is a Big 12 record. Overall, OSU has eight athletes nationally ranked in the top 50 in a combined seven events.
The sprints and relays will be key to the success of the Frogs. Ronnie Baker, who placed second at the Drake Relays in the 100 meters, is currently ranked sixth in the conference in that event as well as being ranked seventh in the 200 meters and second in the 4 x 100 meters. Baker, along with Jordan Moore, who is ranked second in the conference in the 110H, and the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays will be pivotal for the Frogs. Also in the sprints, Sam Watts (fourth) and Cameron Echols-Luper (fifth) are ranked in the Top 10 in the 200 meters, while Kolby Listenbee (seventh) is ranked in the Top 10 in the 100 meters.
The Longhorns are ranked No. 10 nationally and are the Big 12 defending champions. UT is led by first-year head coach Mario Sategna and he led the men’s team to a second-place finish in the Big 12 Indoor Championship. The men enter the Big 12 meet with the No. 1 mark in five events. Texas is also atop the national leaderboard in five events. Freshmen sprinters Senoj-Jay Givans and Chris Irvin are threats to medal. Ryan Crouser seeks to defend his Big 12 title in the shot put. Sophomore Reese Watson earned second-team All-American honors last season and is first in the Big 12 and ninth nationally in the pole vault.
The Red Raiders are ranked sixth nationally and hope to get a boost from competing on their home track. They finished third in the Big 12 meet last year, scoring the most points since winning the title in 2005. Distance runners Kennedy Kithuka (5,000 meters) and Evans Tuitoek (3,000-meter steeplechase) along with high jumper JaCorian Duffield and Kole Weldon in the discus all head into the weekend with conference-best performances in the books. In Texas Tech’s most-recent meet, the Red Raider Open, Trevor Mackey brok a 24-year-old school record in the 200-meter dash. Jerome Watson is a threat to medal in both the long jump and the triple jump.
Women’s team-by-team updates:
The 15th-ranked Lady Bears boast 25 performances that rank in the top-10 in the conference heading into the Big 12 Championships. Four-time indoor 60-meter hurdle champion, Tiffani McReynolds, will look to claim her second 100-meter hurdle title as she currently has the best mark in the league at 12.87. Rachel Johnson highlights a strong contingent of middle distance and distance runners for BU with the top 3,000-meter steeplechase time in the Big 12 at 9:49.31. Besides those two top marks, BU has five other performances that are second-best in the Big 12. The Lady Bears will be working to improve on last season’s third-place finish that tied for the second-highest in school history.
The Cyclones come into the Big 12 Championships with two event leaders in 400m-hurdler Ese Okoro and shot-putter Christina Hillman. Hillman took the indoor title in the event and was the eventual NCAA Champion. She’ll look to defend those titles beginning this week. Okoro’s time of 56.78 ranks fourth nationally, and the Birmingham, U.K., native is the only athlete in the nation to run sub-57 twice this season. Ese’s twin-sister Ejiro Okoro will challenge for the 800-meter title, while several Cyclones will be in the running for the 5,000m and 10,000m titles.
The Jayhawks are defending Big 12 and national champions with several key performers returning. Senior Diamond Dixon will try to make history as she goes for an unprecedented four-straight outdoor league titles in the 400 meters. The reigning NCAA heptathlon champion, junior Lindsay Vollmer, will also attempt to defend her conference title. Senior Jessica Maroszek has the Big 12’s top mark in the discus. Sophomore long jumper Sydney Conley has the top mark in the event in the Big 12 this season. Several young Jayhawks will also be counted on to contribute hefty points including, freshman Whitney Adams and sophomores Hannah Richardson and Rhavean King in the 800 meters, as well as sophomore Daina Levy in the hammer throw.
The 21st-ranked Wildcats enter the Big 12 Championships with five athletes slotted in the national top-20. K-State is led by Alyx Treasure and Sara Savatovic, who both rank within the national top-10. Savatovic heads to Lubbock as this year’s top-seed and reigning Big 12 champion in the hammer throw, while Treasure holds the top high jump mark in the Big 12 of 1.85m. The Wildcats will also rely on a deep combined events group that has three of the top-five heptathletes in the Big 12 this season, including senior Erica Twiss, who ranks No. 3 in the multi-event and has top-five individual conference marks in the 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles and long jump.
The Sooners will count on points produced by the throws. OU has the defending champion in the javelin, Avione Allgood, and she is ranked first in the Big 12 heading into the meet. She has OU teammates to push her as Liz Herrs and Ashley Kowalewski are ranked second and fifth, respectively. The hammer has been a solid producer for the Sooners as Rylee Rackley (fourth) and Sarah Tolson (seventh) continue to do well each week. Allgood is also ranked sixth in the shot put so all eyes for OU will be on the throwing events. Additionally, the Sooners have a nice blend of youth and experience in the running events and those student-athletes have the opportunity to score points as well.
The Cowgirls bring four athletes nationally ranked in a combined five events to Lubbock. Savannah Camacho leads the way at No. 4 in the 800 meters. Her mark of 2:02.84 ranks second in OSU history, and is the top time in the Big 12. In the discus, Ieva Zarankaite (54.34m/178-3) continues her impressive debut season, checking in at No. 20, and Monika Juodeskaite (16:00.32) ranks No. 32 in the 5,000 meters and No. 34 in the 1,500 meters, with a mark of 4:19.58. Viktoriia Sadokhina (12.78m/41-11.25), this season's Big 12 indoor champ in the triple jump, holds the No. 36 spot in the event.
The Horned Frogs’ Lorraine Ugen is the reigning NCAA Outdoor Champion in the long jump and the reigning Big 12 Indoor long jump champion. Megan Smith, who has won four meets in each of the shot put and discus this year, is ranked 14th in the discus, and Patricia Terry, who won the 5,000 at the Drake Relays and 1,500 at the Longhorn Invitational, will also be in position to provide points for TCU. Ugen is currently ranked 11th nationally in the long jump and Smith, who set a new school record at 181-03 in the discus at the TCU Invitational, is currently ranked 14th.
The Longhorns have been ranked No. 1 during the outdoor season and are currently ranked No. 2. The UT women will attempt to sweep the Big 12 indoor and outdoor titles for the fifth time and first since 2006. Texas has the top Big 12 mark in nine events and has three national leaders - Ashley Spencer in the 200 meters, Courtney Okolo in the 400 meters and Kaitlin Petrillose in the pole vault. Spencer is also a threat in the 100 while has the chance to medal in both the 100 and the 200. The 4X100 meter relay team won the prestigious Penn Relays with a time that was the fourth-best in collegiate history.
Cierra White was the first Lady Raider in 12 years to win the 100 meters and will attempt to defend her title. She also is a threat to medal in the 200 meters. Le’Tristan Pledger, who finished third in the Big 12 Outdoor meet last season, enters the meet with the No. 3 time in the conference in the 100-meter hurdles after breaking the school record at the Mt SAC Relays with a time of 13.09 seconds. Pledger is also a threat in the long jump. Sophomore Gionna Jackson has produced the second-best triple jump in school history. Sharlene Nickle in the steeplechase and Jocelyn Caro in the 10,000 meters also could produce points for Texas Tech.
Experienced seniors lead the Mountaineers. With four seniors ranked in the top-30 nationally in the East Region in their respective events, West Virginia looks to make its presence felt. Senior Sarah Martinelli, who claimed first place at the Penn Relays earlier in the outdoor season, enters with the third-best time in the conference this season in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Senior Allison Lasnicki also boasts the third-best time in the conference in an event – the 10,000 meters. Senior Stormy Nesbit, who finished second in the triple jump at the 2014 Big 12 Indoor meet, has the fourth-best mark in the conference in the triple jump. Senior Chené Towsend has the 26th-best mark in the East in the 100-meter hurdles.