In his first 22 seasons as Texas Tech track coach, Wes Kittley never took a team to a Florida meet.
This weekend’s Tom Jones Memorial, with its high level of competition and schedule, was too good to pass up. Florida hosts the annual get-together in Gainesville, Florida, and Kittley called and asked to be included.
“I felt like we were running so much at home inside,” Kittley said, “and I think that maybe helps us hang out a little bit more with our younger group. “Feel like we have so many new people that need to be fired up maybe a little bit sooner, and it just happened to be the best meet in the country this weekend.”
The technology actually sends split teams to two opposite corners of the country. Red Raiders athletes in the combined events, horizontal jumps, high jump and select distance races headed to the prestigious Mt. SAC relays in Walnut, Calif., which began Wednesday.
Almost all of Texas Tech’s sprinters, hurdlers, pole vaulters and pitchers travel to the meet in Florida, which takes place Friday and Saturday.
Tech makes its annual trip to Baylor’s Michael Johnson Invitational next weekend, then hosts the Corky/Crofoot Shootout April 29-30 and the Big 12 Championships May 13-15.
The Tom Jones Memorial ticks a box.
“I think this week is a real test of where we are,” Kittley said, “and it’s planned because I wanted to have something really tough. Then it’s going to be average next weekend, then light when we meet, then we’ll rest for a week and have a conference.
“Before I hit the gauntlet of the Big 12, Regionals and Nationals, I wanted to have a great time that we test and see where we are.”
Both technical teams are ranked No. 7 this week in the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association performance-based rankings. Other men’s teams in the top 25 at the Florida meet are No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Florida, No. 10 Alabama, No. 19 Georgia, No. 20 North Carolina A&T and No. °23 Clemson.
Other women’s teams in the top 25 are 2nd Texas A&M, 3rd Florida, 5th LSU, 11th North Carolina, 21st North Carolina A&T, and 25th North Carolina.
“Our kids are looking forward to this meeting,” Kittley said. “They know it’s going to be tough, but they’re looking forward to meeting the best in the country, and I think that’s going to bring out the best in these kids.
“So some of them will be a little injured this weekend, but it won’t be that bad. It’ll just be something that they realize, ‘Wow, there’s still work to be done.’
Here are the Texas Tech athletes ranked in the top 30 in NCAA Division I in their events, with the season’s best marks and times. An “a” indicates a time or mark converted to account for a higher altitude.
Events on the ground
High jump: 18. Sidney Sapp, 5 feet, 11 1/4 inches.
Pole vault: 10. Chloe Wall, 14-3 1/4; 22. Ryleigh Redding, 13-7 3/4.
Long jump: 3. Monae’ Nichols, 22-3 3/4; 30. Callie Jones, 20-3 1/2.
Triple jump: 8. Onaara Obamuwagun, 43-9 1/4; 13. Brya Brewer, 43-2 1/4.
Shot put: 3. Kayli Johnson, 57-9 3/4.
Record: 2. Usual Seasons, 195-2; 16. Malin Smith, 179-5.
200 meters: 13. Aneesa Scott, 23.07 seconds
400:10. Omovoh knowledge, 52.45.
100 hurdles: 3. Demisha Roswell, a-12.70.
400 hurdles: 14. Sylvia Schulz, 57.90.
400 Relay: 5. Texas Tech (Virginia Kerley, Kiah Dubarry-Gay, Demisha Roswell, Rosemary Chukwuma) 43.11.
Decathlon: 29. Cole Whatley, 7,031 points.
Events on the ground
Pole vault: 25. Colton Naffziger, 17 feet, 3 3/4 inches.
Long jump: 24. Jalen Seals, 25-1 1/4.
Triple jump: 2. Chris Welch, 53-3 3/4.
Disc: 12. Gabriel Oladipo, 193-4.
100 meters: 28. Jacolby Shelton, 10.24 seconds.
200: 1. Courtney Lindsey, 8:20 p.m.; 17. Jacolby Shelton, a-20.54.
800:2. Moad Zahafi, 1:46.02.
400 hurdles: 2. Malik Métivier, 49.15.
400 Relay: 5. Texas Tech (Terrence Jones, Jacolby Shelton, Ashton O’Conner, Courtney Lindsey), 39.12.
1600 Relay: 19. Texas Tech (Eran Siboni, Ryan Champlin, Marco Vilca, Sven Cepus), 3:07.42.