The Texas Tech track and field team completed the second day of the NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday, March 9, in Birmingham, Alabama, with two individual championships.
Senior Zarriea Willis started the day off with a personal record of 6’-1.5,” according to Tech Athletics. This marks the first championship of her collegiate career, as well as makes her the first women’s high jumper to win a title at Tech.
Associate head coach James Thomas said he is proud of Willis’ growth throughout the years, according to Tech Athletics.
“Just to see her progress over these last four years and come back to win a national title her senior year is special,” Thomas said, according to Tech Athletics. “I’ve been tough on Zarriea for four years. I’ve really tried to push her to do some things she didn’t think she could do, and she took it like a champ. I’ve coached her unlike a lot of athletes I’ve had, and she’s turned into one of the most consistent high jumpers in the country.”
Junior Divine Oduduru won the 200m with a time of of 20.49s, according to Tech Athletics. He also scored two points in the 60m with a 6.62s finish, putting him in seventh place.
In his first indoor championship, senior Odaine Lewis claimed silver in the triple jump with a top leap of 54’-7.5”, however he missed his personal best by just three inches.
As a result of today’s meet, the men’s team finished in a tie for sixth place at 24 points, according to Tech Athletics. On the women’s side, Tech tied for 15th with 12 points.
Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Wes Kittley said he is especially proud of those who competed in the meet, according to Tech Athletics.
“We did a good job on Saturday with two national champions and a runner-up,” Kittley said, according to Tech Athletics. “We failed to fill up lanes with our preliminaries Friday, and that did not help us. I’m proud of those that competed Saturday and made it to the podium.”
Junior Chinne Okoronkwo became the first to earn All-American status in both the triple jump and pole vault at the same championship meet, according to Tech Athletics. In the triple jump, Okoronkwo made a mark of 42’-11.75” putting her in eighth place. She also placed eighth in the pole vault after making a mark of 13’-11.75.”
Both Lewis and Okoronkwo were the lone Red Raiders to score in the same event for both genders.
Freshman Axel Hubert placed 15th in the heptathlon, according to Tech Athletics. He started with a 8.32 mark in the 60m hurdles for 903 points, which was his highest scoring event of the weekend. Hubert also gained 778 points in the pole vault as a result of his 14’-11.5” mark. Lastly, he ran a time of 2:53.83 in the 1000m, solidifying his 15th place finish.
The Red Raiders will move into outdoor season now as they compete in the ACU Invitational on Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, in Abilene.