South Plains track and field shines at Tyson Invitational on Saturday

South Plains track and field shines at Tyson Invitational on Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE—After a day one performance which saw the South Plains men's and women's track and field teams continue to emerge as two of the nation's elite at the 2017 Tyson Invitational at the University of Arkansas, Saturday proved to produce similar results for SPC.

Sophomore long distance specialist Omero Rodriguez ran an 8:32.56 in the men's 3000 meter run, earning fourth place honors to begin the afternoon for the Texans and currently ranks fourth in the NJCAA. Junior Charles and Jordan Atkinson proved their worth against a field of Div. I athletes in the men's 200 meter dash as the duo placed 20th and 22nd overall with final times of 21.72 and 21.74, respectively.

South Plains' Safia Bright held her own in the women's 200 meter dash, posting a final time of 24.33 placing 23rd overall amongst 43 runners. The Lady Texans dominated the women's 5000 meter run as Seselia Dala took first overall and posted the fourth fastest time in the NJCAA with a final time 17:45.87, while Leslie Romero placed third for South Plains with a time of 18:20.84, which currently ranks seventh in the NJCAA.

The Texans and Lady Texans have accumulated a combined 67 national qualifying marks after three meets. 

"I can't say I'm really surprised by the way we've preformed because I knew we had a talented group, but I am very impressed by the way we've competed," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "They're just really excited to go the meet every week and they're very supportive of each other. They come excited to be a part of the team and be at the meet and a part of the competition. I really feel good about where we're at. I said at the beginning of the year we have two teams that can win a national championship, and I don't feel any differently about it now."

The Texans were just as impressive in the men's 5000 meter run as Felix Kosgei and Nicholas Rotich placed fourth and seventh overall for South Plains with their final times of 15:05.63 and 16:06.85, respectively. Kosgei's time is currently the fifth fastest in the NJCAA. In the 4x400 relay events, the Lady Texans earned a 10th place finish with a final time of 3:43.23, which currently sits as the second fastest time in the NJCAA, while the Texans earned seventh place honors with a final time of 3:10.98. The Texans previously posted the top time in the country in the 4x400 after running a 3:10.11 at the Charlie Thomas Invitational on Feb. 3

The Texans were well represented in the men's high jump as Kwaume McGee jumped 6' 8.25" and placed ninth overall. Felicia Frimpong earned a top 20 finish in the women's triple jump with a final mark of 38' 4.75", which currently ranks ninth in the NJCAA. Kiona Bradshaw showed her muscle in the women's shot put placing 11th for the Lady Texans with a throw of 46' 11.75", which currently ranks fourth in the NJCAA.

"For the most part I really feel good about where we are are right now," Vance said. "I don't think I'm stressing about anyone who maybe hasn't qualified and think we're in a pretty good spot. The atmosphere just seems to get our kids going. Seeing those high level Div. I kids gives them some confidence that they know they're at that level and that talented. When they know they're in the mix with those people they really step up and show their true colors and show what they can do."

Day one Highlights:

Laquan Nairn earned a fourth place finish and set a new school record in the men's long jump after posting a final mark of 25' 7.25". Nairn's jump is currently the top mark in the NJCAA, and the sixth longest jump in the entire country (NJCAA and NCAA levels).

Saahir Bethea jumped 24' 1.75" on Friday placing sixth overall. Bethea's mark currently ranks sixth in the NJCAA.

Robert Dunning ran a 7.95 in the men's 60 meter hurdles and placed 11th overall amongst 30 competitors. Dunning's time currently ranks as the second fast time in the NJCAA.

In the women's 800 meter run Hellen Maasotuo placed sixth overall for the Lady Texans with her final time of 2:15.63. Massotuo's time currently ranks second in the NJCAA.

In the women's 400-meter dash, Natassha McDonald posted the fastest time in the NJCAA to date with her final time of 55:30.

Okeen Williams would go on to place 20th for the Texans in the men's 400-meter dash with a final time of 48:20, which currently ranks 11th at the NJCAA level.