LEVELLAND — The South Plains College men's and women's track and field teams will kick off the 2018 indoor season on Friday in Lubbock at the Texas Tech Red and Black Open at the Texas Tech Sports Performance Center beginning at 4 p.m.
South Plains returns a number of pieces from last year's teams which saw the Texans place second and the Lady Texans earn a third-place national finish at the 2017 Indoor National Championships in Pittsburg, Kan.
"We seem like we're a little bit late starting our season than what we normally do, but that's kind of by design," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "We're going to head over to Texas Tech and their new facility, and coach Hobbs and myself have watched a meet there and a lot of our kids have been over there to see it. We're looking forward to having a good meet, and the kids came back in shape and look like they're ready to go."
The Texans return three pieces of its 4x400 team which finished fourth at nationals a year ago, as Jordan Atkinson, Rayan Holmes, and Montel Hood will look to contend for a national crown in 2018. Sophomore Felix Kosgei, who helped the Texans to a pair of top-five finishes a year ago in the men's 4x800 and the distance medley relay also returns for South Plains.
Patrick Johnson, who placed seventh last season at nationals in the Heptathlon will look to climb his way back into contention for a national title. Johnson will be joined by teammate Jonathan Witt who earned a 12th place finish at nationals as a freshman with 4273 points.
60-meter hurdle specialist Mason Weh and William Watson will look to add to their trophy case following a freshman stint in which Weh placed second and Watson placed third at nationals in 2017.
"I just want to see them go out and compete," Vance said. "Times are always something we're looking for, but in reality, the two things we're looking for are good competition and hitting national qualifying marks. The vast majority of our kids are capable of hitting at least one mark in one event, and as short as the indoor season is we have to take every opportunity we can to hit those standards."
The Lady Texans welcome back 400-meter Canadian national champion Natassha McDonald who will play a key role for South Plains in 2018. McDonald placed fourth at nationals a year ago in the women's 400 meters and helped the Lady Texans earn a second place finish in the women's 4x400 relay.
McDonald will be joined by Seselia Dala who placed in the top 10 in four different events at nationals as a freshman. Dala was crowned national champion as part of the Lady Texan's 4x800 relay team and placed third in the women's mile run and distance medley relay. Also returning for the Lady Texans is Leslie Romero, a Houston product who placed fourth at nationals last season in the women's 5000-meter run.
"We had a really good work ethic in the offseason, but there's always a difference when you're coming into the season and they know we have a meet coming up," assistant coach Justin Hobbs said. "You just feel a level of excitement you don't see in the offseason. Not because they're not working hard, but just because it's different, and it's game day and they want to compete and see the results."
Live results for the meet can be accessed here: https://results.flotrack.org/?mid=1339
You can live stream the meet at the following link. There will be a one time charge from Texas Tech for $6.95 for a 24-hour access code: http://texastech.com/watch/purchase.aspx?process=purchase