The Texas Tech Red Raider Open was not only the final home meet of the season for the No. 9 Lady Raider and No. 10 Red Raider Track & Field teams but also the final tune up and chance to get better times recorded before the Big 12 Championships.
Both teams did just that and more with not one, but two school records falling en route to a historic night at the Fuller Track & Field Complex on Saturday night.
"Well I think it's probably the best meet we've had in years to be honest with you," Tech head coach Wes Kittley said. "We had a very good meet, really pleased the week before conference, about two and a half weeks before the NCAA first round. I just felt like it really gave us a boost of confidence going into the conference meet."
The first of the two records to fall was one that hadn't been touched in seven years by any 4X100 relay team.
Coach Dion Miller had been tinkering with different combinations all season with the 4X100 squad, Kittley said, but finally went back to the combination from last season.
That combination of Taylor Evans, Terra Evans, Candace Jackson and Erica Alexander were able to do something the other combos have not been able to do this season – break 45 seconds.
"We just tried a little bit different, and we had run it that way before in the past, last year, we hadn't done it this year," Kittley said. "We've been trying to break that 44 second barrier all year, been running all over it, and really just crushed it yesterday."
The 4X100 relay team turned in a time of 43.53 seconds, which was 1.19 seconds faster than New Mexico Junior College.
"It was real exciting to see them break that school record at home," Kittley said.
That would not be the only school record to fall on Saturday night under the lights at the Fuller Track & Field Complex.
Pole-vaulter Shade Weygandt, who has been progressively improving her marks throughout the season, had her best showing of the season at home– breaking her own school record.
The junior, who is the first women's All-American pole-vaulter in school history, cleared the bar at 4.50 meters (14'-9. 00"), breaking the old record of 4.45 meters (14' – 7.25").
"We didn't even jump her indoors, we've been very careful with her all year," Kittley said. "It's just great to see her not only jump good, but just jump great."
Weygandt's mark is No.2 mark in the country, Kittley said, which is just behind the mark by the National champion from last year.
Along with it being a quality jump, the 4.50 meter (14'-9. 00") mark qualifies as an Olympic "A" Standard in the women's pole vault, which Kittley said guarantees her to get into the Olympic trials.
"It's just all around, it was great for the NCAA," Kittley said, "and great for her personally for after the season."
With the two school records broken, attention turned to Gil Roberts, who hadn't competed since the Texas Relays.
Roberts had such a good indoors, Kittley said, as he ran
unattached with the United States team in the 4X400 for them, and then got hurt
at the Texas Relays,
"We just put him on the shelf," Kittley said. "Rehabbed him, and we had been having some good practices, but we just decided to go ahead and turn him loose this week instead of Big 12."
Turning him loose ended up paying off as Roberts not only ran a quality time, but also took first place beating Kevin Borlee of Belgium, who was the 2010 European Champion, with a time of 44.93 seconds.
The five-time All-American's time ranks first in the country and also ranks No. 3 in the world.
"Gil's just been trying so hard to get back to running, and what impressed me so much, of course, was his first quarter of the year outdoors and he breaks 45 seconds," Kittley said. "It just shows you what he's capable of, it shows you the type of ability he has, and I think you're going to see a lot more in the next month or so."
Not only did those in attendance see Roberts' swift race, but also in June it will be seen by the entire world.
The BBC was in town following the Belgium team, as they have for the past two years, and Kittley said this was a great opportunity for Tech to shine on the international stage.
"They had been following them for two years, so Texas Tech became a part of that and their going to be showing that all over Europe," he said. "I just think it adds to publicity that our school could not get if that had not been here. I just thought it was fun, it was neat for a lot of people involved to see and for them to be here."
Along with the record-breaking performances and Roberts' performance, there were some other good marks turned in as well.
Bryce Lamb set a new personal record in the triple jump, Precious Nwokey set a new personal record in the 100-meter hurdles and high jump and Ifeatu Okafor took first place in the discus and the shot put.
With all the good marks turned in and personal bests that were reached, Kittley said they got out of this weekend exactly what they were looking for.
"A lot of kids got sharper, they ran personal bests, they got good marks for the Big 12 that will help them with seeding." he said. "I really think it was a great positive for us, and that's what I was hoping just to get a lot of people positive going into the Big 12 Championship and giving them a lot of confidence."
The Big 12 Outdoor Championships begin on Friday in Manhattan, Kansas.