ABILENE – Tarleton track and field tallied nine personal records on the first of two days of competition at the ACU Wes Kittley Invitational on Friday to commence the 2022 outdoor season.
The Texans entered 12 athletes across four events – the shot put, hammer throw, 1,500m run and 5k.
Jenna Brazeal was Tarleton’s highest-placing finisher in any event. She clocked a 1,500m time of 4:45.13 to claim third place in a 30-person field that featured athletes from host and Western Athletic Conference rival Abilene Christian and Big 12 powerhouse Texas Tech. The junior surpassed her previous personal record by one second in the process.
Brazeal’s race strategy mirrored her most recent performance – a fourth-place finish in the 800m at the WAC Indoor Championships in which she shattered her indoor school record by five seconds. She patiently weaved her way toward the front of the pack through the first 800m, then began her kick at the bell lap to advance multiple spots up the leaderboard.
Newcomers Maria Diaz-Fernandez and Sage Lancaster then combined to place 15th and 16th, respectively, in the 1,500m. Originally from Madrid, Spain, Diaz-Fernandez crossed the finish line in 5:13.60 while the freshman Lancaster followed at 5:18.71. Lancaster’s time signified a collegiate personal record.
The men’s 1,500m began with Kevin Baez notching the 13th individual top-10 finish of his three-year Texan track and field career. The Vanderbilt, Texas native clocked in at 3:59.55 to nab ninth place.
Behind Baez was fellow junior Dominick Vastlik, who came one second shy of surpassing his personal record with a time of 4:08.64 to claim 17th place.
Austin Flores and Aimee Landers-Wilburn then wrapped up Tarleton’s showing in the distance events with a pair of personal records in the 5k. Flores clocked a time of 16:27.73 to take 11th place in the men’s race while Landers-Wilburn completed the 12.5-lap circuit in 19:39.26 to place 17th in the women’s competition.
Earlier in the day, Oscar Rodriguez advanced to the finals and placed ninth in the hammer throw with a heave of 160′ 8″ to lead Tarleton’s collective effort in throwing events.
Ethan Bratton made his outdoor debut in the shot put and hammer throw with a pair of personal records. The junior narrowly missed out on a spot in the finals of the shot put, placing 10th at 47′ 5.75″. Bratton’s throw was Tarleton’s best mark in the shot put in five years. He followed up the performance with a heave of 130′ 5″ in the hammer throw to claim 19th place. Bratton has notched personal records in four consecutive meets dating back to the 2021 WAC Outdoor Championships in May.
On the women’s side, Elena Reagan began her final season in purple and white with an 11th-place finish in the hammer throw behind a toss of 129′ 2.”
Another athlete who forayed into the outdoor season in style was sophomore Bonnie Clifton. She earned a pair of lifetime personal records in both the shot put and hammer throw. Clifton took 13th place in a 28-athlete field in the shot put at 37′ 8″ and surpassed her previous personal best by three inches. Before transitioning to the shot put ring, Clifton finished 14th in her hammer throw debut with a mark of 125′ 5.”
Freshman Audrey Lillard placed 20th in the hammer throw at 101′ 11″ to round out Tarleton’s afternoon in west Texas.
The Texans complete their stay in Abilene tomorrow with a full day of events, beginning with the shot put at 9:30 a.m. and concluding with the 4x400m relays around 5:30 p.m.