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Men’s and Women’s T&F finish strongly at Victor Lopez Classic

courtesyriceathletics
Sophomore Ben Tijerina runs during this past weekend’s Victor Lopez Classic track met. Tijerina placed first in the 10,000 meters event on his way to win the Men’s Track Athlete of the Week award. Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Diego Palos Rodriguez     3/26/24 11:25pm

Last weekend, the women’s track and field team hosted the 41st Victor Lopez Classic track meet at Rice’s own Wendel D. Ley Track. Following the high school division of the competition, the men’s and women’s collegiate track teams started their events on Friday, March 22, and competed through March 23. The Rice men’s team posted 14 podium finishes with four event titles while the women’s squad finished the meet with 12 top-three performances and another four event titles.

On the men’s side, junior Andrew Murray led the way with a 1,500-meter sweep for the Owls, followed by sophomore Gus Gannon and senior Elliot Metcalf. Murray credited teamwork and preparedness for the Owls’ 1-2-3 finish.

“The strategy was to just run fast; we knew we were ready to run a great performance, and everything sort of fell into place,” Murray said. “I must give a huge shoutout to [sophomore] Jackson Moran who was pacing us for the first 800 meters. His job was to run the first 800 in 2:00 and he did just that. We’re training with each other every single day, pushing each other to the limit, so when it’s time to race we know we’re not in it alone. This friendly competition, along with wanting to run fast, is really what led us to a podium sweep and a personal best for each of us.”



The result was also a long time coming for Murray, who competed in the Victor Lopez Classic when he was in high school.

“Winning this race has been a dream of mine for a long time, more than I can put into words,” Murray said. “I competed at this meet in high school and was never good enough to win it, and the past three years I’ve had to watch from the sidelines due to injury. The crowd was electric and racing in front of my family and teammates is what pushed me the most. I absolutely love my team and representing Rice, so this is definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The Owls achieved another long-distance sweep in the 10,000 meters, with sophomore Ben Tijerina, junior Wesley Wright, and sophomore Filippo Aldrovandi placing 1-2-3, respectively. 

Other notable finishers include Gannon’s first-place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, a third-place finish in the 4x400 meter relay, and a first and third-place finish in the hammer throw by senior Shaun Kerry and junior Cal Abdulky, respectively.

On the women’s side, graduate student Kennedy Gamble placed first in the 100-meter dash and third in the 200-meter dash. Freshman Alex Gobran had a notable performance at her first outdoor collegiate race, placing first in the 5,000 meters race. Senior Morgan Fey won the discus throw and placed fourth in the shot put. 

Sophomore Alice Taylor jumped to the top of the podium in the high jump event with a 1.83-meter jump. With that finish, Taylor broke the Rice women’s high jump record, taking the feat from her older sister, junior Josie Taylor, who broke the record last year.

Both the men’s and women’s teams head to Austin later this week to compete in the 96th edition of the Texas Relays, one of the largest track meets in the country. According to Kerry, while preparation differs between track meets, the team’s main goal comes later in the season at the conference meet. 

“Most of the [throwing] group is taking Texas Relays off, but preparation for A&M [Invite next week] won’t look much different compared to previous weeks,” Kerry said. “As much as it is a big competition and a chance to throw far, our aims are always to perform well at conference and in the post-season, so our training is always tailored to peak for those competitions, and everything we can do well along the way is a bonus.”



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