Unlike any other race in track and field, the steeplechase is like a high-speed obstacle course around the oval. During this 3,000-meter event, competitors cross 28 barriers comprised of 38 four inch by four inch blocks of wood and jump over a 12-foot water jump seven times. The steeplechase is adapted from the English horseracing event of the same name.
With seven top-10 finishes in the year, including a second place finish against a stacked field at the recent Duck Invitational on Mar. 21- 22, senior Michael Whitehead was bound to break through at some point. That point came on Saturday at the 60th Border Olympics in Laredo, when Whitehead finished with a final-round 62 for his first collegiate victory.
After a midseason slumber that saw the Owls drop crucial matches to both the University of San Diego and Wake Forest University, Rice got back on track by winning three in a row at home before losing to fifth-ranked Texas A&M University on Wednesday at Jake Hess Stadium.
After getting their first victory in five matches against Tyler Junior College (16-2) on Mar. 13, it unfortunately didn't take long for the women's tennis team (11-8) to record their eighth loss of the season, as they fell 4-3 to then-unranked Texas Christian University (4-6) on Mar. 20. However, the result of doubles play was not a sign of things to come, as all three matches were won by the Owls, albeit in close fashion, with all three matches decided by less than two points. After freshmen Dominique Harmath and Kim Anicete picked up their 10th and 11th singles wins of the year, respectively, it seemed that Rice had the match nearly won with a 3-0 lead. But the Horned Frogs, who had won 10 straight against the Owls, were not about to concede the match. The remaining matches were all dominated by TCU early, as each of the first sets of the matches were taken by TCU. But each remaining Rice player rallied to force a third set in her match, needing just one more set in one of the matches to defeat their rivals from Fort Worth. But despite their valiant comeback efforts in the single matches, TCU swept all four tiebreaker sets in dominating fashion, winning two of the sets 6-0 and two by a score of 6-1 to pull out the road victory.
With the outdoor season merely three weeks old, one could have easily expected some rust on the men's track team at the 29th Victor Lopez Classic held at Holloway Field and Ley Track last Friday and Saturday. But just by glancing at the results from the meet, it's clear that any growing pains didn't bother the Owls. Headlining the efforts of the team was junior Alex Zinchenko's personal best of 17.15 meters (56 feet, 3.25 inches) in the shot put that gave him a third-place finish in the event. After setting a previous best of 16.80 meters (55 feet, 1.5 inches) the week before at the Shirley Crowe Multi-Events, Zinchenko attributed the help of his coaches to allow him to break his own mark just a week later.
So far this season, when the men's tennis team has played at home, one could put them down for a win. Six home matches all resulted in six convincing wins, as the Owls had flown off to a tremendous start on home turf. Last Friday, that streak came to a screeching halt as Rice lost to Wake Forest University, 5-2, in their first loss of the season at the friendly confines of Jake Hess Tennis Stadium.