LEVELLAND—The South Plains College track and field teams will look for a repeat performance following a phenomenal outing on March 25 at UTEP when they travel to Austin for the 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on March 29-April 1 at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
This year's running of the Texas Relays is set to be the largest group of competitors to date as nearly 7,700 athletes from 17 countries and 37 states within the U.S. will take to the track to prove their worth against an elite field of world-class competition.
"It's a really really good event for us," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "We go out there, our kids tend to compete well, and it's an opportunity for us to get on a big stage and kind of showcase what our kids can do. It also gives our kids the opportunity to compete in front of a big crowd. Come Friday and Saturday that place will be full and it will be rocking, and to get the kids an opportunity to compete in a situation like that is really good for them."
The Texans roll into the capital city after a week one performance that saw 15 athletes earn national qualifying marks and set four of the top marks in the country at the NJCAA level.
Sophomore Adrian Williams launched out of the runway and earned the top mark in the men's javelin with his throw of 215' 6" in El Paso. Indoor All-American Laquan Nairn soared 24' 9" in the long jump over the weekend which sits as the top distance in the country. Sophomore Robert Downs Jr. posted a blazing time of 1:53.16 in the 800 meters which ranks first in the country while freshman Felix Kosgei used a dazzling time of 15:04.09 in the 5000 meters to earn the Kenya native the fastest time in the NJCAA.
"Adrian Williams threw really well," Vance said. "He threw 65 meters well out over 200 feet in the javelin, and that was a really good start for him. I think there's really big things coming, and he'll actually be throwing in the 'A' section on Saturday in Austin. I think he's got some big throws coming, but it was good to see him open up like that because he's a guy that's been itching to compete for a year now almost."
The Lady Texans were just as impressive as they posted 16 national qualifying marks including nine athletes holding position inside the top five in their respective events. Freshman Natassha McDonald was named the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week thanks to a first place finish in the women's 400 meters in El Paso. The Toronto, Canada native thwarted the competition with a sensational time of 53.71 to earn the top mark in the country.
Sophomore Mauricia Prieto ranks third in the NJCAA in the women's 200 meters after posting a time of 23.91 at UTEP. Seselia Dala's time of 4:48.49 in the 1500 meters ranks third in the country, while Poro Gahekave ran the fourth fastest time in the NJCAA with an 18:58.08 in the 5000 meters. Sophomore Kiona Bradshaw used a throw of 46' 1.25" in the shot put to wrap up the third top distance in the country, while Jannia Price's mark of 141' 9" in the discus ranks fourth in the NJCAA.
"It's always nice when you can get a national recognition like that, and it's great for our athletes," Vance said. "Natassha McDonald running a 400, she's not a small person. I think we talked about this in Indoors where she's on that Indoor track and it's a little bit tougher on her because she's every bit six-foot tall and has long legs, and those Indoor curves are a little tight. She got out there in outdoors and opened up. For her to run that fast in her first outdoor meet coming off spring break was really impressive."
Live results from the 2017 Texas Relays can be found at the following link: http://live.pttiming.com/?mid=1180
You can also watch the event via ESPN and the Longhorn Network via the following link: http://www.espn.com/watchespn/player/_/channel/longhorn/
Head coach Erik Vance recently discussed the upcoming Texas Relays, which can be seen below: