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Tech's White, Pledger advance to finals at NCAA outdoor track and field championships

Lady Raiders pair in position for first-team all-America status

Posted: June 12, 2014 - 9:42pm  |  Updated: June 13, 2014 - 12:19am

Cierra White’s bid to be a first-team all-American back-to-back years in the 100-meter dash ended Wednesday.

White believes she’s better at the 200 meters anyway, and on Thursday she showed why.

The Texas Tech junior advanced to the finals in the 200 at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon. The junior from Philadelphia took second in her semifinals heat, and her time of 23.01 seconds was fourth-best overall in the three heats.

“I felt pretty good,” White said. “I’m pretty pleased. I’m happy I finally made it to a final in the 200, because this is my third time. Now, my junior year, I finally got to make it into the finals.”

The finals are scheduled for 4:49 p.m. CDT Saturday, the last day of the four-day meet at Oregon’s Hayward Field.

The top eight finishers in an event are accorded first-team all-America status. White got sixth in the 100 last year, but didn’t make it through Wednesday’s semifinals.

“I think that helped me be really determined and have more confidence,” she said. “I think I’m a better 200 runner, and I think the fuel of not making it in the 100 helped me go out there and run my best in the 200.”

She ran her second-fastest wind-legal time of the season in the 200. Terra Evans in 2010 is the only other Tech female athlete to make the NCAA finals in the 200.

“I feel like the 100 is all about technique,” White said, “and it’s so easy to mess up in the 100. If you have a bad start, it can cost you the race. In the 200, you have a little more time to adjust. I think I executed my start today, and I let that bring me around the curve and onto the straight.”

Le’Tristan Pledger also positioned herself for first-team all-America honors. The Tech sophomore from Kansas City snared the last qualifying spot in the 100-meter hurdles, running a time of 13.12 into a 1.6 meters-per-second headwind.

Pledger got third in her heat, and her time was eighth best among 24 in the three semifinals. She’s the first Tech female athlete to make the finals in that event.

The Tech women’s 1,600-meter relay team with Montenae Roye-Speight, Amoy Blake, Tiffany Tarver and White missed advancing by three spots. Their time of 3:34.69 was fourth in the heat and 11th overall. They were seeded 12th pre-meet.

With four of seven events in the books in the heptathlon, Tech’s Shanice Stewart is in 17th place. That event concludes Friday.

Former South Plains College star Vernon Norwood remains in the hunt for NCAA titles in the 400 meters and the 1,600-meter relay. On Wednesday, he easily made it through the semifinals in the 400.

On Thursday, Norwood anchored LSU’s 1,600-meter relay, which won the third of three heats with the second-fastest time of the day, 3:03.43. LSU, using the same lineup, won the event earlier this year at the NCAA indoor.

Three former South Plains College athletes missed advancing Thursday. Texans exes Anthony May from Arkansas and Jarvis Gotch from Louisiana Tech were 15th and 22nd, respectively, in the long jump. Their best marks were 23 feet, 101/4 inches and 22-103/4.

SPC grad Shavez Hart from Texas A&M was fourth in his semifinal heat of the 200 and 10th overall with a time of 20.90, missing the finals by two spots. Hart’s in the 100-meter final at 7 p.m. CDT Friday.

Friday also is key for the Texas Tech men, who have top-10 high jumpers JaCorian Duffield and Bradley Adkins going at 5:20 p.m. CDT and distance runner Kennedy Kithuka seeded first in the 5,000 meters that goes off at 8:10 p.m. CDT.

NCAA OUTDOOR

CHAMPIONSHIPS

at Hayward Field

Eugene, Oregon

All Times CDT

Texas Tech athletes’ schedule

Note: All events are finals. Numbers in parentheses represent where an athlete’s best time/mark of the season ranked in the NCAA going into the meet.

Today

MEN

High jump: JaCorian Duffield (3), Bradley Adkins (9), 5:20 p.m.

Discus: Kole Weldon (10), 6 p.m.

5,000 meters: Kennedy Kithuka (1), 8:10 p.m.

WOMEN

Heptathlon: Shanice Stewart (6), long jump, 2:30 p.m.; javelin, 3:45 p.m.; 800 meters, 6:50 p.m.

Saturday

MEN

No contestants.

WOMEN

200 meters: Cierra White (15), 4:49 p.m.

100 hurdles: Le’Tristan Pledger (8), 5:19 p.m.

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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