Two student-athletes, two coaches honored by USTFCCCA for indoor campaign.
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s Mountain Region awards list included the names of two Texas Tech student-athletes and two coaches. In total, four Red Raiders were honored by the organization for their outstanding indoor seasons.
Ruth Usoro was an obvious choice for Women’s Field Athlete of the Year – both before and after the Big 12 Championships. Usoro, who has been a member of both of the watch lists for The Bowerman thus far, has held the world lead in the triple jump and currently sits top-five in the world in both that and the long. Usoro’s flair for the dramatic culminated at last week’s Big 12 Championships, where she landed the 11th-best long jump mark in NCAA history to come from behind and claim gold on the first day. On the second day, her 47′-1.5″ (14.36m) in the triple marked the second-best distance in NCAA history and completed the horizontal jumps sweep. For the 20-point performance, she was named High Point Scorer for the second straight year.
Takieddine Hedeilli and his tremendous indoor campaign capped off the Tech student-athlete awards in the form of the Men’s Track Athlete of the Year. Hedeilli was blazing the track from the very beginning, running 1:45.98 in his first meet of the season – a time that marked the world lead, claimed the school record and broke the national record for his home country of Algeria. With a clear nationals bid in the event, Hedeilli was free to focus elsewhere. Three weeks later, he ran the fastest mile in school history at an American Track League pro meet in Arkansas, timing 3:56.79 to become the third Red Raider ever to go sub-four. Two weeks after that, he ran 4:01 as the mile anchor of a Tech distance medley relay that broke the school record. Hedeilli has since begun his post season by defending his Big 12 title in the 1000m and a silver-medal performance in the mile.
Overseeing Hedeilli’s training and performances this season were two Tech coaches who were also honored: head coach Wes Kittley and head distance coach Jon Murray. Kittley, who coaches the mid-distance group, not only enjoyed watching Hedeilli’s record-breaking performances but also utilized him on his DMR. Murray, who was a finalist for Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year, has been coaching of Hedeilli since the 2019 cross country season when the three-time Algerian cross country champion placed fifth at the Big 12 title meet.
For Kittley, Thursday marks the fifth time and fourth time in five years he has been named the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Coach of the Year.
James Thomas’ selection as Women’s Assistant Coach comes as no surprise, seeing as Usoro makes three women’s jumpers to have won the award, including three of the last four. Usoro’s honor is her second straight. He has also had six male jumpers of his named Mountain Region Field Athlete of the Year. They have claimed eight of 12 field athlete awards.
Release provided by Texas Tech Athletics