RICHARDSON, Texas – A couple of Amarillo natives of the West Texas A&M men’s and No. 15 women’s track & field teams grabbed three of the four yearly Lone Star Conference athletic awards on Thursday morning as announced by the league’s office in Richardson, Texas. Sophomore Libby Strickland swept the LSC yearly honors on the women’s side as she was given the Wes Kittley Award (Outstanding Female Track Athlete) and David Noble Award (Outstanding Female Field Athlete). Sophomore Zach Weatherly was recognized equally on the men’s field side as he won the Oscar Strahan Award. Eight other WT athletes were named to the LSC All-Conference team.
Strickland pulled off the most impressive all-around track & field performance in WT history last weekend in Kingsville, Texas at the LSC Outdoor Track & Field Championship. The Randall High School graduate scored 41 total points herself, the most of any athlete in the competition (men or women), leading the Lady Buffs to a second place team finish. Strickland is only the second female to earn both awards in LSC history, joining Incarnate Word’s Elodie Barre’ in 2011. The special awards were voted upon by the league coaches.
After placing second in both the 100m and 200m dashes, Strickland won two individual titles and led both the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams to LSC Championships. Her first individual championship came in long jump where she topped the field with a distance of 5.90m (19’-4.25”). She then entered a jump off in the high jump competition to break a tie leading to her second title as she cleared 1.70m (5’-7”).
Strickland, already a four-time All-American, is currently a provisional qualifier in all six of those events and has a strong chance to be selected to compete at nationals in each one. She ranks 10th in the nation in the 100m, eight in the 200m, and seventh in high jump, 17th in long jump while the 4x100m team sits in fifth and 4x400m team in 14th (after relay teams with multiple times are removed from the equation).
Weatherly took home the honors as the LSC’s top male field athlete by totaling 24 points at the LSC Championship, the most for any male at the meet. He earned points and top-three finishes in all three of his events.
The Tascosa High School graduate topped the field in the men’s hammer throw competition, his first event, with a mark of 52.13m (171’-0”). Weatherly then grabbed a second place finish in shot put with a distance of 16.70m (54’-9.5”) before placing third in discus with a mark of 51.34m (168’-5”).
Weatherly is in a lock for selection in the shot put field at nationals as he ranks seventh in the country with a mark of 17.83m (58’-6”). He will be competing tomorrow in discus at the OBU Last Chance meet in Shawnee, Okla. to improve his provisional qualifier in the event. He currently sits on the bubble as he ranks 19th in the nation with his mark from the LSC Championship.
Those who qualify for nationals will be announced next week, likely Tuesday or Wednesday. The NCAA Division II National Championship will take place in Allendale, Mich. and will be hosted by Grand Valley State University on May 22-24.
Besides Strickland and Weatherly, eight other WT athletes were named to the LSC All-Conference team, one for the Buffs and seven others for the Lady Buffs. They include freshman Steve Lagat, sophomore Bri Leeper, juniors Sharon Kwarula, Rhemecka Graham and Jessie Thomas, and seniors Casey Nelson, Marisa Holiwell and Rachel King. The list of All-Conference performers includes the winner of each event at the conference meet, including all members of the winning relay teams, plus any athlete who scores at least 14 points at the meet. In all, 25 men and 25 women were recognized by the LSC All-Conference program.
For the men, Lagat was honored on the team as he was the winner in the 10,000m competition. He took first place in the event with a new PR and facility record time at Javelina Stadium of 31:23.84.
Kwarula earned the seventh-most points on the women’s side with 20.5. She took first place in the 100m hurdles with a time of 13.84 followed by a second place finish in the 400m hurdles as she crossed the line at 1:01.23. The day prior, Kwarula broke her own school record in the 400m hurdles preliminaries with a time of 1:00.32. The Boroko, Papua New Guinea native also added 2.5 more points as she led the 4x400m relay team to an LSC Championship.
In women’s throws, Nelson totaled 14 points as she scored for the Lady Buffs in all four of her events. Also an Amarillo native, Nelson placed fourth in the hammer throw and fifth in shot put, discus and javelin.
Leeper, an Amarillo High School graduate, grabbed 12.5 points as she placed third in the 100m dash and fifth in the 200m dash. She was also a part of the LSC Championship 4x100m relay team.
Graham scored 8.5 points as she placed third in the 800m and was a member of the 4x400m relay team. Thomas grabbed 6.5 points with a fifth place finish in the 400m and also was part of the 4x400m squad. Holiwell and King each contributed 3.5 points as they scored with eighth place finishes in their individual events and led the 4x100m relay team to a title.
WT will be back in action tomorrow at the OBU Last Chance meet as select individuals will look to increase their qualifying times and marks to earn berths at nationals. See the link at the top of the page for the full LSC All-Conference release as well as a preview for tomorrow’s OBU Last Chance meet and follow @WTAMUTrackXC for the latest updates and news on WT track & field.