March 1, 2008
With some of their strongest events coming up on Saturday, Jon Warren's Rice men's track and field made a strong push to be a contender for the team title at the Conference USA indoor championships on Friday by showcasing their balance.
"This might be the first time that I can remember that we have at least one qualifier in every event heading into Saturday," Warren noted. "Getting three qualified in both the 200 and 800 was a great result, as was qualifying two in the 60. You add that to the potential for points that we have in the triple jump and pole vault, it will be fun to see how it all plays out."
Leading the Owls in qualifying on Friday were three former Rice football players. Senior Bubba Heard posted the fastest qualifying time in the 200 meters (21.73) and also reached the finals of the 60 meter dash. Jon Turner also qualified in both sprints, while Gary Anderson qualified in both the 200 meters and the 60 meter hurdles.
Rice's Phillip Adam, who has the top effort in the conference coming into the championships, held the lead at the midpoint of the heptathlon, with 2971 points, followed by Connor Hayes (6th, 2606) and another football player, Joseph Agnew (9th , 2374 )
In Friday night's finals, the Owls picked up a silver medal in the high jump as Omar Wright cleared 2.04m, (6-08.25). They earned a bronze in the distance medley relay when the team of John Buck, Ryan Gard, Jacob Owolabi and Simon Bucknell finished behind UTEP and Tulsa in a time of 10:27.34. Rice added points in the long jump when Devon Fanfair finished seventh with a leap of 6.64m, (21-09.50) while Brett Olson (15:07.36) and Justin Maxwell (15:14.89) finished seventh and eight in the 5,000 meters.
The Owls also received an unexpected boost from freshmen Clay Baker, who smashed his own school record in the weight thrown, better his old mark by nearly five feet. Baker finished seventh with a school-record toss of 16.93m, (55-06.50), which was nearly 10 feet better than the freshmen's first efforts in the event in January.
"Clay Baker's progress has been amazing, and he just missed a monster result on his last throw because of a small foot foul. His best event is the shot put, and based on what we saw tonight, that could be interesting to watch tomorrow."
Rice's Qualifiers For Saturday's Finals
Men 60 Meter Dash Preliminaries
7, Jon Turner, Rice, 6.89
8, Bubba Heard, Rice, 6.90
Men 200 Meter Dash
1, Bubba Heard, Rice, 21.73
5, Gary Anderson, Rice, 22.09
7, Jon Turner, Rice, 22.29
Men 400 Meter Dash
8, Ryan Gard, Rice, 50.03
Men 800 Meter Run
6, Scott Zivick, Rice, 1:56.79
7, Colby Keithan, Rice, 1:56.83
8, Jacob Owolabi, Rice, 1:58.04
Men 60 Meter Hurdles Preliminaries
2, Gary Anderson, Rice, 8.21
7, Tyler Whitham, Rice, 8.44
1, Phillip Adam, Rice, 2971.
6, Connor Hayes, Rice, 2606.
9, Joe Agnew, Rice, 2374