May 4, 2012

Ready for Red Raider Open

Wes Kittley loves exposing his athletes to the best competition he can find.

The Texas Tech track and field teams will square off Saturday with the likes New Mexico, South Plains College and Texas Wesleyan in the Red Raider Open before heading to Manhattan, Kan., next week for the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. Sounds very competitive for a men's and women's team that both currently ranked in the Top 10, doesn't it?

It will be.

Some of the Belgium National Team that will compete in the Summer Olympic Games in London this summer are going to give Tech a run for its money and the British Broadcasting Company will be there to record it in conjunction with a documentary titled "World Olympic Dreams."

The BBC is most interested in Kevin Borlee and Jonathan Borlee who are members of Belgium's 4x400m relay team.

"I'm just very excited for the opportunity it brings," Kittley said. "It's an opportunity to showcase our facility in front of the whole world through the BBC. It's also a great opportunity for our athletes to run against the athletes they have. It just adds to our meet and gives us a lot of credibility."

Kittley said a lot of college track and field coaches don't want their athletes competing against athletes on a higher level, but he's a big fan of opens. The Red Raider open is theoretically open to high school athletes, college athletes, Olympic athletes and professional athletes.

"They were at the Penn Relays and got to run there," Kittley said of the Belgian athletes. They're coming to Texas. I have open, unattached meets. A lot of people don't allow the pros to run but I it only adds to your meet. It gets your best people to run against the best people in the world. They felt welcome to come down here and we've accommodated them in every way. I think they're real excited to run on one of the best tracks in the country against good competition."

The Red Raider Open will mostly be a tune up before battling tough Texas A&M and Texas teams among others but Kittley added his sprinters and hurdlers are in for a real test.

"It's always great to run at home and this being the week before the Big 12 Championships is going to help us sharpen up," Kittley said. "We've got the Belgians team coming in here along with South Plains. Some fabulous sprints and hurdles. It's going to be a great opportunity for a lot of people."

From the Tech standpoint, this meet was designed to be a friendly meet for Red Raider athletes that have not made marks to record a top 48 time. The top 48 performers in each event at the end of the conference championships head to the NCAA Regionals -- either the East or West Regional depending on geographic location which in Tech's case is the West Regional in Austin.

One of the bigger storylines this weekend is getting a not 100 percent Gil Roberts a time in the 400m event after he won the 400m event in the USA Indoor Track Indoor Track and Field Championships in February. Kittley has been holding Roberts back for precautionary reasons so Roberts wouldn't overexert himself running the 100m, 200m and 400m all season long.

Entering the Red Raider Open the men's 4x100m and two women's 4x400m teams rank in the Top 10 in the country and should be safe bets for nationals as well as a bunch of individual athletes.

"We wanted to have (the open) there in the schedule for anybody that has been beat up in the year or hasn't had the opportunity to run and sharpen it up before the Big 12 or maybe just run one event to keep sharp," Kittley said.



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