LEVELLAND, Texas - The South Plains College track and field teams will not have far to travel when the 2011 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) indoor track and field championships begin Friday at Texas Tech's athletic training center. The meet is scheduled to begin 9 a.m. Friday with the combined events competition. Field events are set to begin at 3 p.m. with the men's shot put, while the first running event is the distance medley relay at 4 p.m.
South Plains swept the competition the last time they entered the indoor championships in 2009, also held at Texas Tech. The men and women have high hopes of sweeping again this year.
The Texans currently have an athlete leading in four events as well as the 4x400 meter relay. They will look to score big points in the 400 meters (ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd), 200 meters (1st, 2nd, 4th), 600 meters (1st, 3rd, 6th), and triple jump (2nd, 3rd, 4th), among others.
The Lady Texans have an athlete leading in seven events, in addition to the 4x400 meter and distance medley relays. They have a chance to sweep the top spots in the 200, 400, and 600 meters where they enter ranked first, third, and fourth.
Both teams are coming off a sweep of the 2010 NJCAA outdoor championships.
Names to watch for
Rondell Bartholomew recently broke a 20 year old national record when he ran the 400 meter dash in 45.84 seconds at the Tyson Invitational. He also anchored the Texans to a national record in the 4x400 relay. Bartholomew will compete in the 200 and 600 meter dashes as well as the 4x400 meter relay.
With Bartholomew opting to run the 200 and 600 meter dashes, Anton Kokorin leads all qualifiers running the 400 meter dash with a season best time of 46.91 seconds. Close on his heels are teammates Bralin Taplin (47.11) and Isaiah Gill (47.20) who ranked second and third.
Anthony May will look to score big in three jumping events for the Texans. The University of Arkansas signee ranks first in the long jump (24-10), third in the triple jump (50-04.75), and third in the high jump (7-00.50).
Freshman phenom Natoya Goule will look to continue her record setting year as she hopes to claim titles in the 600 meter dash and 800 meter run. Goule's time of 1 minute, 18.82 seconds in the 600 yard dash was the fastest ever run by a junior college athlete. Her top 800 meter time of 2:06.42 is just over a second off the national record.
Sophomore Jura Levy enters the 2011 championship meet with top times in both the 55 (6.79) and 200 meter (23.39) dashes and is the school record holder in both.
Janelle Redhead leads all competitors in the women's 400 meter dash (53.50) and will also look to push Levy in the 200 as she enters with the third fastest time of 23.75 seconds.
School records gone down
The Lady Texans have taken down an astounding 10 school records during the 2011 indoor season. Levy holds records in the 55 (6.82), 60 (7.31), and 200 (23.39) meter dashes. Goule has set four marks in the 400 meters (53.27), 600 yards (1:18.82), 600 meters (1:32.65), and 1,000 meters (2:44.73). Lisa Forsberg owns the mark in the mile (5:08.52), while Janeil Bellille took down the record in the 55 hurdles (7.91). Additionally, the 4x400 relay contingent of Sparkle McKnight, Janelle Redhead, Bellille, and Goule set a blistering record time of 3:34.78 at the Tyson Invitational.
The Texans have set seven new SPC standards during the 2011 indoor season. Niko Williams-Richey set the mark in the 55 (6.35) dash on February 18; Isaiah Gill and Rondell Bartholomew raced to a photo finish time of 21.03 seconds in the 200 meter dash to share the mark; Bartholomew's national record time of 45.84 seconds in the 400 meter dash and Kokorin, Taplin, Gill, and Bartholomew's Tyson Invitational victory in the 4x400 relay (3:05.14) was good for school and national records; Anthony May holds the Texan records in the high jump (7-00.50) and long jump (24-10); and Stormy Smothers broke the record in the heptathlon (4845).
Returning National Champions and all-Americans
Though they did not compete at the 2010 indoor championships, the Texans (3) and Lady Texans (3) have a combined six national champions returning from last year's outdoor squad who will be competing this weekend. Additionally, they have six others who earned all-American honors.