While everyone was "Toad to Omaha-ing," the TCU Track and Field team was quietly trudging through a grueling month of championship meets. Each meet held the potential to add another meet to their season, which culminated in the National Championships in Eugene, Oregon at the end of June.
The journey began at the Big XII Championships in Iowa in May. The Top 8 athletes in each event received a medal. Day 1 was for throwing events, and all 3 TCU athletes who competed brought home medals! Paola Miranda finished 5th in Women's Hammer, Aaron Tombleson finished 7th in Men's Hammer, and Makena Shroder finished 7th in Women's Javelin. Remind me not make these three angry—they're throwing things half the length of a football field—and these are definitely not footballs!
Day 2 was for jumping Frogs (no pun intended—OK, maybe a little one). In men's long jump, Ramone Bailey grabbed 2nd place. Cameron Echols-Luper jumped for 4th place. Scotty Newton landed himself in 5th place. Want a visual? These guys jumped the length of 4 of these couches end to end!
Day 3 culminated with the running events, including the relays. Iphona Paiement, Judy Emeodi, Makaila Flannigan, and Briona Oliver teamed up and brought home 7th place in the Women's 4x100 relay. The amazing part was their time: 46.39 seconds. Then things got crazy. The Men's 4x100 relay team got up there in their super intimidating, black, full body, bobsled-team-resembling suits and dominated the race. Ramone Bailey, Sam Watts, Ronnie Baker, and Kolby Listenbee brought home a Big XII Championship Title for the 8th time in the past 9 years! Oh, and in case you were wondering, it took them 39.28 seconds. I'm pretty sure it's about the equivalent of walking from your couch to the fridge and getting a soda.
Brianna McGhee and Makaila Flannigan took 5th and 8th in the Women's 100m hurdles. In the Women's 400 meters, it took Tiffany Terry 55 seconds to bring home a 7th place medal. Joshua Washington promptly replied, "Challenged accepted!" and answered with a time of 47.14 seconds for 7th place in the Men's 400 meters.
In the Men's 100 meters, Ronnie Baker took 3rd with a new personal best of 9.99 seconds. That's called showing off, Mr. Baker. Kolby Listenbee took 5th, and Ramone Bailey took 7th. Lavon Collins earned 5th in the Men's 500 m, and the Men's 200m showcased Sam Watts ( 5th place), Kolby Listenbee (7th place), and Cameron Echols-Luper (8th place).
But let's break away from the speed competitions for a second and take a look at a race that makes even the biggest track stars cringe—the 5000 meters. There are athletes who don't even finish this race. But Horned Frogs Matthew Brown and Dillon Smith both finished, placing 24th and 25th. Oh, and they're Freshman. Yeah, wrap your head around that one. I'll be keeping an eye on these two in upcoming years.
In my personal favorite, the Triple Jump, Scotty Newton finished in 4th place and Ryan Finnie jumped 14.73 yards to finish in 10th. You made this triple jumper proud, and I give you a solid skip-hop-jump salute, Gentlemen.
Every track meet ends the same way: with the 4x400 relays. By now, the other events are usually finished and every person in the stadium (athletes, fans, the snack bar guy...) are watching these races. In the women's 4x400, Ashle Caldwell, Tiffany Terry, Makaila Flannigan, and Judy Emeodi put up a time of 3 minutes, 47.74 seconds (3:47.74) for a 7th place title. The men's team of Lavon Collins, Joshua Washington, Kevin McClanahan, and Ronnie Baker finished a very close 2nd with a time of 3:06.89. Poor Snack Bar Guy didn't even have time to find a seat with times likes these.
The Frogs brought home a total of 25 medals and honors. 13 individuals and 2 relay teams moved on to the NCAA Regionals in Austin two weeks later. The focus there was earning a ticket to the NCAA National Finals in Eugene, Oregon. Cameron Echols-Luper grabbed the first ticket in Men's Long Jump with a third place finish and personal record of 7.96m (that's over 26 feet!). Kolby Listenbee grabbed his ticket in the Men's 100m, with a personal-best time of 10.09 seconds. The Men's 4x100 Relay finished 2nd in their heat with a time of 39.15 to grab their tickets to Oregon. Brianna McGhee won her heat in the Women's 100m hurdles with a time of 13.24 and a ticket to Finals. That's a new school record! Sam Watts earned his ticket in Men's 200m, with a time of 20.85 seconds and a 3rd place finish. Scotty Newton finished 6th in the Men's Triple Jump, with a jump of 15.72m. The Men's 4x400 Relay finished 5th in their heat with a time of 3:06.22 to grab their ticket to Oregon. A total of 5 individuals and 2 relay teams got on a plane for Oregon in the middle of June for the NCAA Finals.
The NCAA Finals took place June 10-13. The first event for the Frogs was the Men's 4x100m Relay qualifying race. With a time of 38.65, the team entered TCU's All-Time Top 10 at #9. Sam Watts finished the Men's 200m with his fifth Honorable Mention All-American Honors and a time of 20.74 seconds. Cameron Echols-Luper jumped 7.73m in Men's Long Jump to receive Second Team All-American Honors. Kolby Listenbee ran a personal-record 10.04 seconds in the Men's 100m to advance to the Day 3 finals the following day and earn himself the number 5 spot on TCU's all-time fastest list! The Men's 4x400m Relay finished 10th in qualifying to earn Second Team All-American Honors.
Day 2, Brianna McGhee finished the Women's 100m Hurdles heat with a time of 13.32 seconds to earn Honorable Mention All-American Honors. On Day 3, the Men's 4x100m Relay finished with a time of 38.59, making them #6 on TCU's All-Time List! They finished in 2nd place and earned First Team All-American Honors. Scotty Newton jumped three personal records in a row in Men's Triple Jump, with a best of 15.75m (that's over 51 feet!). He finished 17th overall and earned Honorable Mention All-American Honors. In the final event for TCU, Kolby Listenbee finished 7th in the Men's 100m with a personal and lifetime record of 10.03 seconds and First Team All-American Honors! In total, NCAA Finals earned the Frogs 3 Honorable Mention All-American Honors, 2 Second Team All-American Honors, and 2 First Team All-American Honors.
Overall, the Horned Frogs had a great meet and made it clear that TCU is not just for football. The thing that amazes me with this team is the young talent. By my count, there are 3 seniors on our TCU Men's Team, and only 1 on the Women's. So for the Horned Frogs to be bringing home Big XII medals, Regional medals, and National Honors as Freshman, Sophomores, and Juniors is truly exciting. I assure you this will be a TCU team to watch over the next 3 years.