Crack! The starter’s pistol goes off and Rice’s track and field stars are off to the races. Last weekend, the Owls competed in their second meet of the year, the Houston Invitational, hosted by the University of Houston.

THE STATS: 

AUSTIN RIDDLE

Weight Throw / 20.13 m

HANNAH JACKSON

60-meter dash / 7.48 s

On the men’s side, head coach Jon Warren said the team put on a strong performance and gained experience by competing in several events for the first time this season.

“This past weekend, the team focused on our areas of strength and had good performances — especially when you consider that this was the first meet for the vast majority of the team — in the 800 [meter], mile, 3000 [meter], weight throw and shot put,” Warren said.

Senior thrower and two-time hammer throw All-American Austin Riddle set the school record in the weight throw with a heave of 20.13 meters, becoming the first Rice thrower to break the 20-meter mark en route to winning the event.

According to Warren, for several student-athletes, and particularly for senior Scott Filip, this invitational served as a warm-up for upcoming meets. Filip is a five-time conference champion and three-time All-American — twice in the decathlon and once in the indoor heptathlon.

Scott has the school record in the heptathlon and has the second-best mark ever in the decathlon. For this indoor season, Scott is focused, again, on the heptathlon as his main event. This past weekend he competed, but only as preparation for next week, when he will be competing in a big heptathlon at Texas A&M [University],” Warren said.

Women’s track and field head coach Jim Bevan said the meet was crucial to establishing a foundation for the season.

“We needed to get started as a full team, so yes, [the meet] went well,” Bevan said. “We are still missing some components of the team and are not 100 percent healthy, but we needed this meet.”

Though the team was not at full strength, Bevan said several Rice women put in strong performances.

“Hannah Jackson was outstanding in the 60-meter dash and 400 [meter],” Bevan said. “Aya Rossano also did well in the pole vault, Camille Little in the long jump and Elsa Racasan [and] Khayla Patel in the mile.”

Jackson, a sophomore, ran the 400-meter in 56.54 seconds to finish first. She also ran a 7.48-second time to finish third in the 60-meter finals. Rosano, a senior, finished 3rd in the pole vault, sophomore Camille little placed 5th in the long jump, and senior Elsa Racasan and sophomore Khayla Patel placed 4th and 5th in the mile respectively.

The track and field season consists of two portions, indoor and outdoor, with conference and national championships at stake in both categories. Indoor track and field is held in the early part of the spring semester and includes only 17 events, four shy of the outdoor version’s total of 21. Indoor tracks are typically only 200 meters long, compared to their 400-meter-long outdoor counterparts, and the season is usually shorter than the outdoor season that immediately follows it.

With the indoor conference meet only three weeks away, the Rice track team will have a few more chances to hone their skills: They next compete at the Charlie Thomas Invitational at Texas A&M University on Feb. 2 and 3, with television coverage provided by the SEC network.