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Usoro’s NCAA Lead Makes Four Titles on Day One

Four Red Raiders – two men and two women – claim gold on opening day of Big 12 Championship. 

 

Day One Results | Finals Start Lists

LUBBOCK, Texas – It would not be a Big 12 Championship without drama.

Ruth Usoro demanded the attention of everyone inside the Sports Performance Center Friday, continuously engaging the student-athletes and coaches who stuck around to watch her take her long jump title defense down to the wire. After trading blows with Texas’ Tara Davis, Usoro found herself in second coming down to her last jump. With a top mark of 21’-9” (6.63m) at that point, she would need anything over two inches to clinch. Instead, she found an additional seven, marking the 11th-farthest long jump mark in NCAA history. It was plenty for the NCAA lead, meet record and school record.

Usoro had defended her title in incredible fashion. Her jumps group, which had stuck around to see her compete, came rushing onto the track to celebrate.

Seasons Usual broke out big time to successfully defend her title in the weight throw. Usual would have won with the mark she landed in fifth throw – 68’-8” (20.93m) – but, with the title clinched, she unloaded the best throw of her career on the final attempt. With the title in hand, Usual’s 70’-10” (21.59m) broke the Big 12 Championship record and moved her up to second in program history. More importantly in the context of this season, it pushed her from 20th to ninth in the NCAA, providing her considerable comfort for a bid to the national meet.

Usual was joined in scoring in the event by Kayli Johnson, who has enjoyed a strong year in the weight throw to go with her stellar season in the shot put. Johnson’s top throw landed at 63’-9.75” (19.45m) – good for fourth place and five points.

On the men’s side, Gabe Oladipo completed the Tech sweep in dominant fashion. Oladipo threw over 69 feet twice in the final, topping out at 69’-5.25” (21.16m). The eighth-best throw in program history was still five full feet ahead of the rest of the competitors.

After jumping for Baylor for three years, Jalen Seals claimed the first gold medal of his career in his first Big 12 meet as a Red Raider. Seals was involved in a back-and-forth affair in a contest that saw three go over 25 feet. It was Seals, though, who would out-leap the field with a top jump of 25’-2.75” (7.69m). It was a massive jump for Seals, who had not topped the 25-foot barrier since his freshman season in Waco.

Chloe Wall turned in her strongest pole vault performance of the season at a perfect time Friday. Wall, who had yet to clear 13’-2” after a breakout season last year, ascended to 13’-10” (4.22m). It would count for a second consecutive bronze medal finish, and resulted in six points for Tech. Ryleigh Redding joined her in scoring with a career-best clearance of 13’-6.25” (4.12m). It was a great bounce back for Redding, who no-heighted at her first conference appearance last year. Redding’s fifth-place finish added four points to Tech’s score.

On the men’s side, Rory Maguire scored in his first collegiate conference meet, finishing seventh.

Takieddine Hedeilli and Owen Likins ran a perfect mile prelim to earn automatic bids into Saturday’s final. The two began on the outside alley together and sat behind the field for nearly the entirety of the race before out-sprinting the field in the final 400 meters to grab top-three finishes. Hedeilli is now in position to defend his championship in the event. For Likins, Saturday will mark his first finals appearance at a collegiate title meet.

Hedeilli and Likins would run again just under two hours later, this time in the 1000m – the second event in which Hedeilli has a title to defend. With a similar approach, the two secured spots in the final.

Two short sprinters, Jacolby Shelton and Peyton Ricks, successfully made the finals in both the 60m and 200m. Shelton’s 60m came off season bests in both, while Ricks equaled a career best in the 200m in the process.

Shelton’s big run came with a time of 6.67, expected but much needed after missing multiple meets earlier in the season. His 200m time came in at 21.04.

Ricks was stellar yet again, carrying her strong regular season right into Big 12 races. She began with a 7.48 in the 60m, making the final with a sixth-place finish. Later, she would match a PR with a 23.71. Saturday will mark her first running in two individual finals. Ricks will be joined by Monae’ Nichols, whose first 60m in a calendar year resulted in a 7.43 PR.

Tech qualified one each for the men’s and women’s 60m hurdles finals. Gabrielle McDonald, the reigning champion, ran a season-best 8.20 to hop into the title race. Maliek Kendall, who finished runner-up at last year’s meet, also ran a season best to earn the lane. He clocked 7.88.

Hedeilli and Likins were far from where the middle distance success stopped Friday evening. Tech qualified all five runners it had in the 600y, with all three men running career bests. Sven Cepus led this charge, running 1:09.27 in front of Chancellor Stephenson and his 1:09.59. In a different heat, Marco Vilca clocked 1:10.00 to earn a spot. On the women’s side, Lexye Price (1:21.87) and Sylvia Schulz (1:22.11) qualified.

Vilca was not done there. An hour and a half later, he would run 1:57.23 to claim a lane in Saturday’s 800m final. He will be joined by women’s counterpart Joanna Archer, the decorated JUCO national champion who qualified in her first Division I conference meet.

On the first day of his first heptathlon as a Red Raider, Gary Haasbroek, the Australian record holder in the decathlon, compiled 3,125 points to place him in third going into day two. He began by tallying a day-high 865 points with a time of 7.05 in the 60m. He would long jump 23’-3.5” (7.10m) – good for second place – next to add on 838 points there. Shot put would bring another 646 points, and high jump would result in 776 points.

Fynn Zenker, the German vice champion in the decathlon, also completed his first day of a heptathlon as a Red Raider. Zenker compiled 2,858 points during his opening day with the help of collegiate bests in the long jump and shot put. He will enter Saturday in seventh. Cole Whatley rounded out potential scoring spots in eighth with 2,817 points – putting all three Red Raiders in the top-eight.

Callie Jones was the lone pentathlete for Tech. She began her first Big 12 meet on a strong note, just missing a personal best in the 60m hurdles by one one-hundredth of a second at 8.68 for 978 points. In her next event, the high jump, she would clear 5’-2.25” (1.58m) for 712 more.

The second and final day of the Big 12 Championship begins Saturday with the multis at 11 a.m. Track and field events will start at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. The meet will stream on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ beginning at 1:50 p.m.

—TECH— 


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