Wednesday, January 11, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist ||

TYLER – The UT Tyler Indoor Track & Field season starts on Friday when six Patriots travel to compete at the Leonard Hilton Invitational at the University of Houston’s Yeoman Fieldhouse.

“I am excited to see where we are to start the year,” UT Tyler coach Chris Stonestreet said. “These athletes have put in so much time in the off season, they finally get to put it on the track and compete against people other than their teammates. My expectations are to see them enjoy themselves and learn how to compete again. We will knock some rust off but surprise people with some good opening marks as well.” 

Whitney Simmons returns for his senior season having already accumulated five all-America honors in her UT Tyler Track & Field career. A White Oak native competing in the Weight Throw, Simmons has earned all-America honors the past two Indoor seasons including finishing fifth at the 2016 NCAA Division III Championships in Iowa with a throw of 17.56 meters. She was the 2015 NCAA DIII runner-up with a program-record 18.31 meters at the meet in North Carolina. Simmons followed her fifth-place finish in the weight throw during the Indoor season by winning the 2016 NCAA DIII National Hammer Throw Championship with a distance of 59.13 in Waverly, Iowa.

Gabriel Perez, a junior from Killeen, will also be competing in the Weight Throw for the Patriots. He is third all-time in program history in the event after a 15.09-meter throw at Houston’s meet last season. The UT Tyler men’s record is 16.11 from Ali Yazdanshenas at Missouri Southern. Zach Richardson will compete in two events on Friday in the 60 and 200-meter dash. A sophomore from Waxahachie, Richardson recorded the third fastest 60 meter in program history by running a 7.33 in Houston last season and ran the fifth best 200 with a time of 24.07 at the Birmingham Crossplex Invitational.

Logan Houser opens his Indoor season in the 400 meter. Also a sophomore from Waxahachie, Houser ran a 52.86 in the 400 last year in Alabama for the third fasted time in program history which is 51.41 from Jake Davidson. Conner Benson will run in the 3,000 meter, while Mari Rodriguez will compete in the 800-meter. Benson is a senior from Humble who won the 2014 ASC Cross Country Championship and the 2015 runner-up. He was also the 2015 ASC Track & Field Championship High-Point Athlete. Rodriguez is competing in the 800 with Rebekah Groth owning the all-time program record with a 2:29 at the Birmingham Crossplex last season.

The UT Tyler Indoor Track & Field season continues next week with a two-day event at Missouri Southern State in Joplin, Missouri.