The last several years, the Texas Tech track and field team has been built around jumpers, throwers, hurdlers, quarter-milers and distance runners. The Red Raiders have had national-title contenders and first-team all-Americans in each.
One big void has been at sprinter.
Tech has a chance to change that this postseason and next with Trevor Mackey. A 2012 London Olympics competitor, Mackey broke the Tech record in the 200 meters two weeks ago with a time of 20.47 seconds and a ran a 10.21 — altitude-adjusted to 10.24 — in the 100, the Red Raiders’ fastest time in that event since 2005.
It’s his first semester with the team.
“Trevor was recruited here to fill a gap that we’ve been needing for a long time,” Tech coach Wes Kittley said. “He struggled a little bit indoors, but then he’s really started to come on as of late. Mid-year guys, it’s hard to get much out of them indoors, but he’s doing exactly what we were hoping.”
Tech is hosting the Big 12 outdoor championships Friday through Sunday at the Fuller Track Complex. No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Tech, No. 10 Texas and No. 13 Baylor all are gunning for the men’s team title.
The Red Raiders would like to get points they don’t normally get in the sprints, meaning from Mackey, whose best times are third in the league in the 200 and fifth in the 100.
“The sprints have become unbelievably tough in the Big 12,” Kittley said. “It’s just like the SEC now. I’d love to have 10 or 12 points out of him in those events.”
Mackey, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior from Nassau, Bahamas, ran the last two years at South Plains College in Levelland. He signed with Florida State in February 2013, but wound up coming back to West Texas before he ever competed for the Seminoles.
That was a key development for Tech, which has had a hard time landing recruits from the junior-college national power only 30 miles away. Many of South Plains’ best athletes have transferred to SEC schools such as LSU and Arkansas and become NCAA All-Americans.
During the year, SPC teams frequently compete in Tech meets, and Mackey liked his track record in Lubbock. He’s also a big fan of Tech associate head coach Dion Miller.
“I’ve been actually running here like two years, and I never ran a slow time on this track,” Mackey said. “I just wanted to give coach Miller a chance, because he was telling me he would be very glad to have me, because he hasn’t had a male sprinter in a while.”
Mackey said he also took note of the successes of three Tech all-Americans: quarter-miler Gil Roberts and hurdler Omo Osaghae — both of whom have won world championships gold medals — and sprinter Cierra White, the defending Big 12 women’s 100-meter champion.
“I said to myself, ‘I don’t need to go to a school where you have like 10 (sprinters),’” Mackey said. “I can actually come to Texas Tech and get that one-on-one, plus I get a good coach. He (Miller) has coached world-class athletes.”
Mackey’s school-record 200 time and his personal record in the 100 both came two weeks ago in the Red Raiders’ last home meet, even though he finished second in each event to pros with world championship medals. Roberts, the former Tech all-American in the 400, knocked out a 10.12 100. Renny Quow, the former South Plains College star, ran a 20.39 in the 200.
That was hardly Mackey’s first brush with world-class competition.
Two years ago, he won the 200 in the Bahamas’ Olympic trials, which landed him in London. He was eliminated in the first round, running a 21.28, but has the experience nonetheless.
“It actually meant a lot to me at the time,” Mackey said, “because, one, I was young. It was my first year out of high school. I was a freshman in college. It looked good on my resume.
“It made me tougher, because I was in good shape at the time, but mentally I was not ready to go up against the world’s best. When I ran there, I sort of folded up. I didn’t do as well as I should have. That was like a life lesson to me, that I can say it made me tough as an athlete. Mentally, right now, I’m tougher than ever.”
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This season’s Big 12 rankings in the men’s 100 and 200 meters:
x-Trayvon Bromell, Fr., Baylor, 10.01
John Teeters, So., Oklahoma State, 10.14
Senoj-Jay Givans, Fr., Texas, 10.19
Everett Walker, Sr., Baylor, 10.19
Trevor Mackey, Jr., Texas Tech, 10.24
x-fastest time in U.S., college or pro, this season.
Trayvon Bromell, Fr., Baylor, 20.23
Blake Heriot, Sr. Baylor, 20.45
Trevor Mackey, Jr., Texas Tech, 20.47
Sam Watts, So., TCU, 20.50
Cameron Echols-Luper, Fr., TCU, 20.61
The three-day Big 12 outdoor championships begin today at the Fuller Track Complex. Here are Texas Tech athletes to keep an eye on on day one:
■ Kole Weldon: The All-American is capable of delivering 20-plus points by himself in the throws, starting today with the hammer.
■ Hannah Carson: The sophomore from Arizona was Big 12 outdoor runner-up in the javelin last year. Carson, Oklahoma’s Avione Allgood and Liz Herrs are separated by less than 3 feet this year.
■ Kennedy Kithuka: Oklahoma State’s Shadrack Kipchirchir and his countryman Kithuka are 1-2 in the NCAA in the 10,000 meters, the last event on the first night.
BIG 12 OUTDOOR
TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday through Sunday
at Fuller Track Complex
11 a.m.: decathlon 100 meters. 11:45 a.m.: decathlon long jump. 12:45 p.m.: decathlon shot put. 2 p.m.: decathlon high jump. 3:45 p.m.: decathlon 400 meters.
1:30 p.m.: Hammer throw. 6:30 p.m.: Javelin throw.
9 p.m.: 10,000 meters.
11:30 a.m.: Heptathlon 100-meter hurdles. 12:15 p.m.: Heptathlon high jump. 2:15 p.m.: Heptathlon shot put. 3:30 p.m.: Heptathlon 200 meters.
11 a.m.: Hammer throw. 4 p.m.: Javelin throw.
8:15 p.m.: 10,000 meters.
10 a.m.: Decathlon 100 hurdles. 11 a.m.: Decathlon discus. 12:30 p.m.: Decathlon pole vault. 3 p.m.: Decathlon javelin. 4:30 p.m.: Decathlon 1,500 meters.
6 p.m.: Long jump. 7 p.m.: Shot put.
6 p.m. to 9:25 p.m.: Preliminaries.
11 a.m.: Heptathlon long jump. 12:15 p.m.: Heptathlon javelin. 1:30 p.m.: Heptathlon 800 meters.
3 p.m.: Long jump. 4 p.m.: Shot put. 5 p.m.: Pole vault.
6 p.m. to 9:25 p.m.: Preliminaries.
2 p.m.: Discus. 5 p.m.: Pole vault. 6:30 p.m.: Triple jump. 6:30 p.m.: High jump.
5 p.m.: Special Olympics 100 meters. 5:40 p.m.: 400-meter relay. 6:05 p.m.: 3,000-meter steeplechase. 6:30 p.m.: 1,500 meters. 6:55 p.m.: 110-meter hurdles. 7:15 p.m.: 400 meters. 7:35 p.m.: 100 meters. 7:55 p.m.: 800 meters. 8:15 p.m.: 400-meter hurdles. 8:35 p.m.: 200 meters. 9:05 p.m.: 5,000 meters. 9:25 p.m.: 1,600-meter relay.
11 a.m.: Discus. 3:30 p.m.: High jump. 3:30 p.m.: Triple jump.
5 p.m.: Special Olympics 100 meters. 5:30 p.m.: 400-meter relay. 5:50 p.m.: 3,000-meter steeplechase. 6:20 p.m.: 1,500 meters. 6:45 p.m.: 100-meter hurdles. 7:05 p.m.: 400 meters. 7:25 p.m.: 100 meters. 7:45 p.m.: 800 meters. 8:05 p.m.: 400-meter hurdles. 8:25 p.m.: 200 meters. 8:40 p.m.: 5,000 meters. 9:25 p.m.: 1,600-meter relay.