Nine Texas Tech track and field members participated in the USA Track and Field National Championships from Thursday, July 25, to Sunday, July 28, in Des Moines, Iowa to try and earn a spot on Team USA for the World Championships in the fall.
Junior hurdler Norman Grimes Jr. highlighted the Red Raiders with one of the best meets of his career. Grimes competed in the 400m hurdles on Thursday, where he ran a 50.20 to finish second in his heat, according to a Tech Athletics news release. The second-place finish earned Grimes an automatic bid in the semi-final on Friday.
“I thought (Grimes) handled himself very well,” assistant coach Calvin Robinson said, according to the release. “He did just enough to advance without having to use a whole lot of energy. That is so important when you have to run three rounds at a meet like this.”
In the semi-final, Grimes ran a 49.43, making it the sixth time he dropped a sub-50 time this season, according to the release. Grimes’ sub-50 time earned him a spot in the final where he ran a 48.68. His time in the final set a new program record at Tech as well as set a new personal best time for the senior. The only other time that Grimes ran a sub-49 time was in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June where he finished second with a 48.71, his previous personal best.
“If you can come out and PR in July, that’s huge,” Robinson said, according to the release. “That’s impressive after a long collegiate season. (Grimes) came here and handled each round like a veteran. He went a second faster every round.”
Another standout Red Raider at the USA Track and Field National Championships was junior long jumper, Justin Hall. In the long jump, Hall had the second-furthest jump of his collegiate career after leaping 25’-10.25” (7.88m) to place seventh in the event, according to the release.
“Justin (Hall) did a great job out there in some rainy conditions,” associate head coach James Thomas said, according to the release. “He had one of the best jumps of his career and proved he belonged amongst a great field. Justin (Hall) had an extremely memorable 2019 season.”
Competing in the long jump with Hall, senior Charles Brown participated in his last meet as a Red Raider, according to the release. Brown did not make the finals with his 25’-6.75” (7.79m) jump. The jump marked his best since he came in fourth place at the Big 12 Championships with a 7.79m jump.
Also on the field, graduate student Duke Kicinski had a top throw of 201’-0” (61.28m) in the discus to place sixth in his first meet since winning the national championship in June, according to the release. Sophomore Seasons Usual also participated in the discus as she competed against the top women throwers in the country. Usual threw 144’-11” (44.17m) ranking 17th in the event.
Senior Alaysha Johnson participated in the 100m hurdles for the women but did not make it past the first round of the event, according to the release. Johnson finished her event in 13.77.
In the women’s high jump, senior Zarriea Willis had a strong performance to rank among the top jumpers in the United States, according to the release. Willis was one of five jumpers to finish after clearing 6’0” (1.83m). The jump ranked Willis ninth in the event.
Men’s senior pole vaulter Brandon Bray also competed at the meet but he was unable to put himself on the board after he recorded a no-height, according to the release. Bray was unable to clear 17’-11” (5.46m) after he set the school record with an 18’’-8.25” (5.70m) jump in June.
Several other Red Raiders participated at the USA Track and Field National Championships but did not advance past their first events. Senior Vincent Crisp ran in the 800m where he ran a 1:51.82, finishing 28th according to the release.
Along with the current Red Raiders, four former Tech track and field athletes participated in the USA Track and Field National Championships. Andrew Hudson was one of the four former Red Raiders to compete and he ran a 20.73 in the 200m on Saturday to earn an at-large bid to the semi-final, according to the release. In the semi-final, Hudson ran a 20.67, ranking sixth in heat.
“This meet is just about going out and beating people,” Robinson said after Hudson’s first run on Saturday, according to the release. “(Hudson) got a tough lane assignment in lane one, but everybody has to run the same distance and he went out and earned a spot in the semis.”
Another alumnus to compete at the meet was high jumper JaCorian Duffield, according to the release. Duffield had a season-best jump of 7’-4.25 (2.24m) to place fourth in the event.
“It was great seeing JaCorian start looking like his old self,” Thomas said, according to the release. “I can’t wait to see him back in a USA uniform at the USA vs. Europe Match in September.”
The other track athletes who used to represent the scarlet and black were triple jumper Viershanie Latham and high jumper Trey Culver, according to the release. Latham finished third in her event as she leaped a 41’-6.5” (12.66m) for a 13th place finish. Culver recorded a no-height in his event.
As the USA National Championships wrapped up on Sunday, the Red Raiders finished their last official meet of the 2019 track and field schedule.