By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
RALEIGH, N.C. and GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For the first time this season, Tennessee Tech track and field will separate its personnel to tackle two meets in the same weekend, each hosted by a Power 5-conference institution. One Golden Eagle delegation will compete Friday at the N.C. State Raleigh Relays, while the other will be bound for action on Friday and Saturday at the Pepsi Florida Relays.
LIVE RESULTS/STREAMING INFO
Raleigh Relays Friday Live Stream
(Begins at 6 p.m. CT)
Florida Relays Friday Live Stream
(Begins at 12 p.m. CT)
Florida Relays Saturday Live Stream
(Begins at 1:30 p.m. CT)
COACH ANGEL QUOTABLES
"We will be splitting up the team this week, going to the Florida Relays and the Raleigh Relays with specific objectives in mind. Both relays are run extremely well. They are both two-day meets that specialize in areas that will help us achieve our goals for the conference championships, and they allow us to work on getting more NCAA First Round qualifying marks out of the way. The Raleigh Relays are geared towards the distance events, and the Florida Relays are geared towards our sprinters and jumpers."
"I think we are a close-knit team that is focused toward our objectives in the outdoor season. The OVC Indoor Championships showed me a lot about this team. They are comeback kids – they know how to overcome adversity and rise to the occasion. They have bulldog tenacity. More importantly, since then, I've seen marked improvements in multiple event areas in practice. I think we will have some surprises come championship time. This is a great time for Tennessee Tech track and field."
GOLDEN EAGLE LINEUP
Kwambai will be the first to run, taking part in the 1,500 meters at 2:05 CT on Friday afternoon. In her first ever attempt in the event last weekend, the OVC's Cross Country Co-Female Freshman of the Year took a time of 4-minutes, 46.44 seconds, which comes in at No. 6 on the league's Outdoor Performance List.
Kwambai is one of 185 athletes currently slated to take part in the women's 1,500, in a field that includes entrants from a host of big-name programs such as Duke, Georgia, Louisville, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame and others.
Sanga, who already established the league standard for the 1,500 meters last weekend, and is fresh off her unprecedented eighth Ohio Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honor of the academic year, will take part in the 10,000 meters at 8:19 p.m.
Sanga was an NCAA First Round qualifier for the event last season, and finished with the No. 3 time on the OVC list for 2018, a personal best 35:11.23 from the Virginia Challenge. A national elite in her own right, Sanga's competition will be much like Kwambai's, as she will be part of a star-studded 88-member field.
Tech will send nine to the Pepsi Florida Relays, with D'Airrien Jackson leading off in the 400-meter hurdles at 2:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
With the 400 hurdles being exclusively an outdoor event, this will be Jackson's first attempt since the 2018 OVC Outdoor Championships, where she recorded the fastest time in both the preliminary and final rounds – an all-time best of 59.37 seconds in the prelims and a 1:00.16 to clinch the title.
Tate, Toney, Anderson and Jackson made up Tech's first outdoor 4x400 team last weekend at Vanderbilt, where they recorded a time 4:05.24.
However, when it mattered most last year at the 2018 OVC Outdoor Championships, Tech reigned supreme in the event, posting a mark of 3:37.74, which was also a new Tech program record by a wide margin.
Roberts will follow immediately after in the invite section of the high jump at 5:30 p.m. Roberts' first high jump opportunity of the outdoor season went well, as she took third place out of 19 athletes at Vanderbilt. She elevated over the bar at 1.71 meters (5 feet, 7 1/4 inches) to take the No. 3 spot on the podium, behind just two athletes from No. 7-ranked Kentucky.
Saturday's action will begin at 2:40 p.m. with the 4x100-meter relay. Anderson, Jackson, Roberts, Tate and Toney comprise the potential candidates for the relay team.
Last week, Anderson, Tate, Roberts and Toney completed the race in 47.83 seconds, which is currently the fastest in the OVC.
Just like the 4x400, Tech paced the field in the 4x100 at the 2018 OVC Outdoor Championships, clocking a time of 45.00 seconds to score 10 points for the team total.
Na'Scottisha Drummond will go in the high jump at 4 p.m., looking to improve on her outdoor personal best of 1.72 meters (5-7 3/4). Drummond has already established a new indoor best in the high jump this season, posting a 1.70 (5-7) at the Vanderbilt Invitational on Jan. 18.
Four o'clock will also mark Raven Smith's time to line up for the triple jump, where she took sixth place last week with an 11.59-meter attempt at Vanderbilt (38-0 1/4). That mark, which led to Smith's 11th top-six finish in 13 career attempts, currently ranks eighth on the OVC Outdoor Performance List.
Tech's final event of the weekend will be a rare appearance in the 4x200-meter. Anderson, Eshe Robinson, Tate and Toney are slated to make up that squad.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information