LUBBOCK — The South Plains College men's and women's track and field teams opened the 2018 indoor season in stellar fashion on Friday at the Texas Tech Sports Performance Center, combining for 26 national qualifying marks.
"These two teams have been dying to compete, and across the board, I thought they really went after it," South Plains head coach Erik Vance said. "This was a great start, and we're going to have just about everyone we need to qualify come the national meet. Every time they stepped out onto the track they got after it, they competed and they supported their teammates, and it's going to be a fun year."
Sophomore Omotayo Abolaji got things rolling for the Lady Texans with a sixth-place finish in the women's 60 meters, earning a national qualifying mark with a time of 7.76. Abolaji hit a second national qualifying mark in the women's 200 meters with a time of 25.08, good enough for eighth place overall.
In the women's 400 meter finals, sophomore Natassha McDonald hit a national qualifying mark with a time of 55.09, earning the Toronto native a first place overall finish. South Plains placed a pair of runners inside the top 10 in the women's mile run as sophomore Seselia Dala and Leslie Romero each hit national qualifying marks. Dala placed fifth overall with a time of 5:12.40, while Romero placed 10th with a time of 5:25.52.
Dala and Romero also hit national qualifying marks in the women's 3000 meters as Dala placed second overall with a time of 10:40.18, while Romero placed fourth after crossing the finish line at 10:58.72. Patrice Moody set a national qualifying mark in the women's 60 hurdles as the freshman placed third overall with a time of 8.93.
"Natassha is an extremely talented runner and we saw that last year, and for her to open up like this in her first meet being somewhat behind because she went to the World Championships in August, she's in a great position to continue what she's been doing," Vance said. "Leslie and Seselia went out and did a great job. Their job today was to go out and qualify in two events for the national meet, and they did that."
The Lady Texans' 4x400 relay team comprised of Janiel Moore, Moody, Hughes, and McDonald placed second and hit a national qualifying mark with a time of 3:49.01. Freshman Ruth Usoro hit a national qualifying mark in the women's long jump with a mark of 19' 8", while sophomore Cha'Kaylin Gilbert hit a national qualifying mark with a mark of 17' 11".
Brandon Letts and Andre Edwards placed inside the top 10 in the men's 60 meters as Letts placed fifth with a time of 6.91, while Edwards took sixth overall with a time of 6.94. Edwards would then earn a fourth-place finish in the men's 200 meters with a time of 22.15, joined by teammate Keion Sutton who posted a time of 22.40, good enough for sixth overall.
Sophomore Junior Charles placed first and hit a national qualifying mark in the men's 400 meters with a time of 47.95, while Jordan Atkinson placed fourth with a time of 49.93. Montel Hood and Dekaryea Freeman each hit national qualifying marks in the men's 800 meters as Hood placed third with a time of 1:57.40, and Freeman placed fourth with a time of 1:57.47.
"Junior is starting out at a pace I don't think we reached until outdoor season last year," Vance said. "To open up that kind of time and execute like he did, we were extremely pleased to see that. Montel is primarily a 400 guy, and for him to run 1:57 in the 800 speaks to his competitiveness, and he's going to run a really strong 400 for us this season."
South Plains placed three runners inside the top 15 in the men's mile run, as Andrew Bosquez placed second and hit a national qualifying mark with a time of 4:18.53. Jesse Madrid placed 12th with a time of 4:34.57, and Filmon Beyene crossed the line at 4:36.24, good enough for 15th overall.
Sophomore Felix Kosgei hit a national qualifying mark and placed first overall in the men's 3000 meters thanks to a time of 8:35.52, while Bosquez set a second national qualifying mark with a time of 8:49.09, good enough for fourth overall.
In the men's 60 hurdles, William Watson, Mason Weh, and Patrick Johnson each hit national qualifying marks as Watson placed second with a time of 7.99, while Weh took third with a time of 8.07, and Johnson placed fifth with a time of 8.27.
South Plains hit two national qualifying marks in the men's 4x400 relay, as Charles, Willari Watson, Atkinson, and Hood placed second with a time of 3:11.96. Not far behind were teammates William Watson, Myles Scott, Freeman, and Rayan Holmes, who earned a sixth-place finish with their time of 3:21.03.
In the men's high jump, freshman Asani Hylton soared 6' 7.5", hitting a national qualifying mark while earning a third place overall finish. In men's pole vault, freshman Parker Wood hit a national qualifying mark with a mark of 14' 5.25", earning the freshman a fifth place overall finish. In the men's long jump, D'Juan Martin placed fourth with a mark of 21' 11.75", while Jonathan Witt placed sixth with a mark of 21' 4".
South Plains' Danylo Molchanov placed second overall and hit a national qualifying mark in the men's triple with a mark of 49' 6.25", while Freshman Markim Felix placed first overall and hit a national qualifying mark in the men's shot put with a throw of 49' 11.75".