The Texas Tech track and field team became the first men’s athletic team to win a national championship as they topped the competition in the NCAA Outdoor Championship on Friday in Austin.
“I’m just so incredibly proud of these guys,” head coach Wes Kittley said, according to a Tech Athletics news release. “They’ve lived with a target on their backs all year long. They just wanted to bring a championship home to Texas Tech, and I’m just so glad they have now done that.”
On the first day of the NCAA Outdoor Championship, the Red Raiders led the nation with seven qualifications for a championship race that would be hosted on the final day of the championship. Along with the qualifications, Tech earned its first eight points to put the Red Raiders on the board.
The senior pole vaulters led the way as Brandon Bray broke the school record with a 5.70m vault, ranking him seventh, earning the first two points of the meet, according to the release. The vault also ranked the best seventh-place finish at a championship meet. Drew McMichael also earned a single point as he ranked eighth as he cleared 5.60m for a personal best.
“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.”
Junior Justin Hall scored the final points on day one as he ranked fourth in the long jump, according to the release. Hall leaded 8.05m to tie for the fifth-farthest jump in program history, earning five points for the Red Raiders.
“Justin stepping up and snagging five huge points for us today was outstanding,” associate head coach James Thomas said after day one, according to the release. “He can proudly say he was a major factor in one of the best NCAA long jump competitions in decades. I’m extremely proud of his effort and competitiveness.”
Tech’s team was led by the junior speedster, Divine Oduduru. Oduduru ran a quick 9.86 in his 100m for the second-fastest time the NCAA Championships have seen, according to Tech Athletics. He then ran his 200m in 16.73 for the second best time in the worlds, as well as the second-fastest time ever recorded by a collegiate athlete. Oduduru became the national champion in both events, earning 20 points for Tech.
“I can tell you without a doubt, (Oduduru) is the greatest 100/200 runner of all-time NCAA,” according to FOX34. “There may be one or two that have a mark a little higher, but clean, without taking drugs and being as passionate about it as he has been and how he’s done it without windated marks, he’s by far the greatest NCAA 100/200 guy of all time.”
Oduduru then participated in the 4x100m relay with senior Andrew Hudson, junior Keion Sutton and freshman Jacolby Shelton. After breaking the school record on the first day of the NCAA Championship meet to qualify for the championship race, the foursome broke the school record for the second time with a 38.45 to rank third. The third-place ranking added six more points to the Red Raiders’ overall score.
Hudson also competed in the championship 200m race and finished 20.25 to place seventh in his first career outdoor nationals final, according to the release. His time scored two points for the Red Raiders.
Adding eight more points to Tech’s score, junior Norman Grimes Jr. placed second in the 400m hurdles with a 48.71 time, according to the release. Grimes set a new PR with the run as well as earning him the fifth-fastest time in the world while breaking the program record.
Senior Vincent Crisp and graduate student Jonah Koech added three more points collectively to Tech’s score in the 800m final, according to the release. Koech earned two points after running a 1:47.28 while Crisp earned a single point with a 1:47.48 time.
In the final event of the meet, graduate student Duke Kicinski put the meet out of reach for the other schools competing as he threw 62.53m to earn the national title in the event, according to the release. The first-place finish added 10 more points to Tech’s score, giving the Red Raiders 60 collective points.
With the meet concluding, Tech earned its first men’s national title in school history with its 60 points, according to the NCAA. Florida trailed the Red Raiders with 50 points for a second place finish and Houston left with the bronze as the Cougars totaled 40 points.
The Red Raiders’ final meet of the season will be the USA National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa from July 25-27.