The Texas Tech women’s track and field team went to the NCAA outdoor championships with a No. 4 national ranking. The top four finishing teams at the meet make the podium and take home a trophy.
That remains an elusive prize for the Tech women.
The Red Raiders scored a program-record 36 points in the meet that concluded Saturday in Eugene, Oregon and finished seventh. They were three points behind the teams that tied for fourth — LSU and Texas A&M.
Tech got 2-3 finishes from Ruth Usoro and Ruta Lasmane in the triple jump, accounting for 14 points, and a 3-5 showing from Malin Smith and Seasons Usual in the discus, good for 10 points.
Rosemary Chukwuma took fourth in the 100 meters, and Demisha Roswell was seventh in the 100-meter hurdles. Monae’ Nichols placed fourth in the long jump on Thursday.
All achieved first-team all-America status, which goes to the top eight finishers at an NCAA national meet.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” Tech coach Wes Kittley said by phone. “It’s unfortunate we’re three points from being on the podium. When you get that close, it always kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but I just can’t take anything away from today. These kids were fighting hard, and they were trying their best.”
The high-water mark for a Tech women’s team at an NCAA championships was in 2008 in Des Moines, Iowa, when the Red Raiders scored 32 points and finished fifth.
On Saturday at Hayward Field, Tech was sitting in fifth with one event remaining, but didn’t have a team in the 1,600-meter relay. Points in that event moved Texas A&M and Arkansas in front of Tech, the Aggies and the Razorbacks finishing with 39 and 38 points, respectively.
“We had a really good meet today,” Kittley said. “It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get on the podium.”
Usoro, who swept the triple-jump titles last year at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, settled for runner-up on Saturday to Florida’s Jasmine Moore, a sophomore from Mansfield Lake Ridge. Moore went 46 feet, 11 3/4 inches, and Usoro’s best mark was 45-9 1/4. Lasmane went 45-7.
Smith was one of the pleasant surprises for the Red Raiders. She was ranked 40th in Division I going into the postseason, having not broken 180 feet. But she threw a personal-record 183-8 to make it out of regional competition and 186-3 Saturday for another personal best.
A former high-school state champion from Lansing, Michigan, she transferred to Tech after four years at Cincinnati.
“She’s just been getting better and better as of late,” Kittley said. “She’s really starting to figure it out a little bit, and getting in the big meets is where she’s shined the most. Being her first year in our program, we’re looking forward to having her back next year. She’s got an opportunity to really good.”
Usual, a senior from Brandywine, Maryland, was a first-team all-American in the discus for the second year in a row. She finished third last year in Eugene.
Roswell broke the Big 12 meet record last month in the 100-meter hurdles, running 12.44 seconds in Lubbock, which made her No. 2 in Division I this season.
But the Jamaican junior wasn’t able to repeat that performance in the NCAA meets. She ran 13.07 and 12.78 in the regional rounds at Arkansas and 12.93 and 12.94 in the last two rounds at Eugene.
“Demisha didn’t have her best meet,” Kittley said, “but she’s got a little quad (quadriceps) problem and it bothered her. At this level, you can’t have anything wrong with you and be 100 percent. She wasn’t 100 percent and still got in there, made the finals, was all-American and got us two points. She’s going to be special.”
Chukwuma, who transferred to Tech in January from South Plains College, ran 11.14 in the 100 for fourth.
“Rosemary ran fabulous,” Kittley said. “She’s never even gone through a fall (training) program with us. I can’t wait to put her through a fall program. I think she really had an incredible year for getting (to Tech) at mid-year.”
Florida won the team title with 74 points, followed by Texas with 64 and Kentucky with 50. The 1-2 finish by Florida and Texas was identical to the outcome of the men’s competition that concluded Friday.
Rounding out the top 10 behind Tech were Arizona State with 28 points and Brigham Young and Colorado with 21 each.
TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon
Texas Tech athletes’ results
High jump: 24. Sidney Sapp, 5 feet, 7 3/4 inches.
Discus: 3. Malin Smith, 186-3; 5. Seasons Usual, 181-7.
Triple jump: 2. Ruth Usoro, 45-9 1/4; 3. Ruta Lasmane, 45-7.
Heptathlon: 14. Callie Jones, 5,436 points.
100-meter hurdles: 7. Demisha Roswell, 12.94 seconds (wind: negative 0.2 meters per second).
100: 4. Rosemary Chukwuma, 11.14 (wind: 0.2 mps)
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech women take 7th at NCAA track and field championships