In the first day of the NCAA Championship, the Texas Tech men’s track and field team led the nation with seven runners and three field athletes earning qualifications on Wednesday.
Senior pole vaulters Brandon Bray and Drew McMichael started the meet off as they both surpassed a program record after they each cleared an 18’-4.5” (5.60m) jump, according to a Tech Athletics news release.
“The competition was just off the charts,” assistant coach Tom Slagle said, according to the release. “I was hoping Brandon (Bray) and Drew (McMichael) could get in the mix and be a part of it. What they did was just incredible.”
Bray continued to clear 18’-8.25” (5.70m) with six others, setting a record for the most athletes to clear 5.70m at a national meet, according to the release. Clearing the jump, Bray finished seventh to earn the Red Raiders’ first two points of the meet and the school record as he came off of broken foot in the first meet of his senior indoor season.
“I knew that because of the injury I wouldn’t have high jumps until late in the season,” Bray said, according to the release. “I was mentally prepared for that in the weeks leading up to nationals. I knew it was a process and that it would all come together at the right time. It’s amazing to me, and I think I put in the work to deserve that.”
After clearing the 5.60m vault, McMichael set a personal record for himself as he could not clear 5.70m, according to the release. McMichael ranked eighth, earning Tech one point in his final vault of the season.
“Being able to get a PR and be a First Team All-American was the cherry on top to finish up my career at Texas Tech,” McMichael said. “I have nothing but gratitude for my coaches and teammates. This meet was a great one for Brandon (Bray) and me. I’m happy with how it ended up. Tech has always been great to me and I’ll always be a Red Raider.”
Junior Justin Hall missed the national meet last season and scored five points for Tech as he ranked fourth with a 26’-5” (8.05m) jump, according to the release. The jump marked the first time Hall has scored in his collegiate career as well as taking the fifth-farthest jump in program history.
“It means the world to me to make it back and contribute to this team at the national level,” Hall said, according to the release. “I can thank God, my coaches and my teammates for making it to this position. I hope my points will make an impact on the overall outcome.”
As field events came to an end, Tech posted eight points from three Red Raiders before heading to the track where a nation-leading seven qualifications for championship races would occur, according to the release.
“We’ve talked about running two fast rounds every time we go to a postseason meet,” assistant coach Calvin Robinson said, according to the release. “If you go look at the qualifying marks for these opening rounds, they’re running fast. You’ve got to be prepared form the go, and since we’ve gotten to the postseason these guys have been rolling.”
The four-man team of junior’s Divine Oduduru and Keion Sutton, as well as senior Andrew Hudson and freshman Jacolby Shelton, started the track events as they broke the school record in the 4x100 relay for the third time this season, according to the release. The four beat their previous record of 38.83 as they finished second in their heat with a 38.57 to earn an automatic bid for the championship race on Friday.
Following the school-record breaking time in the 4x100, Oduduru ran a 19.97 in the 200m for his second sub-20 time in the event this season, making him the only man in the world to do so, according to the release. Hudson also finished the 200m as he ran 20.09 to earn an at-large spot, for his first finals appearance of his outdoor career.
Before Oduduru ran a sub-20 time in the 200m, he ran a sub-10 time in the 100m an hour before, making him one of the 10 men in history to do so in the same day, as he has done it twice in under two months, according to the release.
The two-time and defending Big 12 Champion, junior Norman Grimes Jr., finished the 400m hurdles with a time of 49.39 for his fifth sub-50 time in his last six race, according to the release. His time earned him second in his heat for an automatic bid for the championship race.
Senior Vincent Crisp and graduate student Jonah Koech earned qualifications for a championship race in the 800m as Koech won his heat with a time of 1:47.46, according to the release. Crisp also earned a qualifying time, giving the pair a spot to earn points on Friday.
“The main thing that I told every single one of the guys today after we were done was that we haven’t won anything yet,” Robinson said, according to the release. “All we did today was have a good day. We need to come out and have another good day Friday.”
The only Red Raider participating in the men’s decathlon, freshman Axel Hubert finished the first day of the event with 3,924 points to rank him 12th, according to the release. He finished the first day as he finished his 100m in 11.26 seconds (804 points) and the 400m in 50.85 seconds (776 points). He also went 7.08m (833 points) in the long jump, 14.84 (780 points) in the shot put and 1.92m (731 points) in the high jump.
Day two of the NCAA Outdoor Championship will continue on Thursday as Hubert will finish his decathlon and the women will compete. The men that qualified for a championship race will race again on Friday for points.