LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech track and field wrapped its regular season in convincing fashion Friday, landing several important competitors inside qualifying territory for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“We really did look good,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Wes Kittley. “Karayme [Bartley] in the 200m was huge, and then he came back and ran on the 4×4, which improved and moved up to number 10 in the country. And how about Brandon Bray? Now he holds both of them – indoor and outdoor.”
Tech’s Friday was punctuated by Brandon Bray’s third-ranked pole vault clearance of 18’-5.25” (5.62m), which downed the 27-year old record held by Brit Pursley. Most importantly, at least in the scope of this season, the mark, which ranks third in the nation this season, moved him comfortably into the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“It’s a huge honor to be able to break this record,” Bray said. “Having the outdoor record and now the indoor record at a Division I school is something I’ve always dreamed of, and being able to do that as a Red Raider is icing on the cake. My body is feeling really healthy right now, and we can only go higher from here.”
“I’m so, so proud of him,” said Kittley. “It’s been a bit unfair, since he’s never really had an extended period of time being healthy. Well, right now he’s healthy, and of course it’s his last indoor meet at home and he breaks the record. I think this all sets him up, and I think if we can keep him healthy through June you’re going to see something really big.”
Also solidifying a third-ranked mark was new Red Raider Karayme Bartley, a six-time All-American graduate transfer from Iowa. Running just his second 200m as a sprinter at Tech, Bartley turned in a 20.61 for a big indoor PR and the number three time in the NCAA this year.
“This is what he is,” said assistant coach Calvin Robinson. “The main thing is, when you get somebody like that, you’ve got to fight the urge to just throw them on the track. He was chomping at the bit because we had held him out until last week. His confidence is building and he’s getting ready to show off what he is. He’s very talented.”
Also earning a big potential qualifying mark was the men’s 4×400 relay. After previously residing outside the top-30 while Kittley and his staff toyed with the four-man rotation, the foursome of Ryan Champlin, Karayme Bartley, Norman Grimes Jr. and Sven Cepus hopped into the national top-10. Bartley once again impressed, running a 45.74 split on the second leg while Grimes and Cepus closed it with low 47 splits to bring the relay home in 3:07.27. At the moment, the group’s time ranks 10th in the country heading into conference.
Derrius Rodgers also took full advantage of the final meet leading into next weekend’s Big 12 Championships. Running the 60m in search of a national mark, Rodgers timed 6.62. Moving him to eighth in the country, the time also allowed him to tie Jacolby Shelton for the fastest 60m by a Red Raider this season.
In middle distance, Takieddine Hedeilli went sub 1:50 in the 800m for the second time this season. The graduate transfer, who last weekend broke the school record in the mile by going sub-four, ran a 1:49.19 Friday for another NCAA top-20 time. His previous best came three weeks ago when he exploded for a 1:48.50.
Field events were led by Gabe Oladipo, who doubled in the weight throw and shot put. In the former, Oladipo nearly chased down his own school record for a second time. The thrower marked 70’-10.5” (21.60m), going over 70 feet for the second meet in a row. He also threw the shot
Chinne Okoronkwo also took advantage of the Matador Qualifier, her nationals mark of 14’-1.25” (4.30m) placing her just inside the top-16 at 15th. It was a much-needed mark for the senior, who is the defending Big 12 Champion both outdoors and indoors, counting as the first time she has cleared 14 feet this season.
Tech will depart for Ames, Iowa, next week for the Big 12 Indoor Championships, which will be held Feb. 27-28 at Iowa State. The Red Raiders will be seeking their third straight conference indoor title, while the Lady Raiders are primed to make a run at their first ever Big 12 trophy.