Eldridge Claims Big 12 Mile

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Jessica Eldridge won her first conference indoor title, taking the women\'s mile run on a record-setting Saturday for the University of Oklahoma women\'s track and field team at the Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Eldridge cruised to victory in the eight-lap event at the Devaney Sports Center, running the distance in 4:47.25.

\"I wanted to be smart and have confidence in myself in the race,\" Eldridge said. \"The conference championship was a goal I set and accomplished. I never underestimate my competition, and I think it was a good field.\"

Eldridge tied for sixth for the most points scored by an individual competitor with 12.5 after earning a share of points for anchoring the Big 12-winning women\'s distance medley relay Friday night.

\"Jessica had an outstanding individual meet -- anchoring the women\'s DMR and winning the mile with a tactical race,\" OU head coach Martin Smith said. \"That was a strong performance for a middle-distance runner. For Jessica being able to put two days back-to-back at a high level like she did this weekend, I think, shows that she\'s on top of her game and hopefully that\'s going to give her a lot of confidence for the future.\"

The OU women scored a school record 61 points at the Big 12 Championships, tying for a program best fourth place with Baylor.

\"Obviously we are very excited to place fourth,\" Smith said. \"It\'s a positive step. Scoring 61 points is a better indication of a positive step. The team is begin to understand what it means to come to a conference meet and focus on competing.\"

The University of Texas swept the men\'s and women\'s titles. The Longhorn men scored 127 points in a race that went down to the final event with Nebraska (118). The Longhorn women outscored the Nebraska women 127-100.

The Sooner women spread the wealth, scoring high in sprints, distance races and the jumps.

Toni Smith finished runner-up in the women\'s triple jump. Smith jumped 42 feet, 0.50 inches (12.81 meters).

Lucretia Rimmer (12.39) and Portia Nash (12.37) also scored for the Sooners, placing fifth and sixth, respectively. Nash\'s mark was a season best.

Catherine Odell finished third in the women\'s 1,000-meter run. Odell completed the five-lap race in 2:53.17.

Yolanda Goff placed fourth in the women\'s 60-meter dash, clocking in at 7.40. Goff returned later to run a season best 23.87 in the 200 en route to a fifth-place result. Goff\'s mark was her first under the NCAA provisional qualifying standard.

Tijahnni Newton added three points to OU\'s total with a sixth-place run in the 400-meter dash. Newton covered the two laps in 55.50.

Kristi Cook placed seventh in the 800-meter run, clocking in at 2;13.65.

Despite traveling just 11 to Lincoln, the Sooner men fought for every point they could score. The OU men placed 10th with 40 points.

\"I don\'t believe we returned many points from last year\'s team,\" Smith said. \"I believe we returned less than 20 points. I was pleased to see the men get about as much out of what we had both in point-production and competitively.

\"My observation was that we had 10 men in a position to compete this weekend. Obviously, Dermillo (Wise) had an unfortunate accident -- those things happen. Nine of those 10 people scored and that was our goal: to bring athletes that were in a position to be competitive. I saw a lot of positive signs of which we can build from over the next two or three years. The hope is that we can systematically improve the men year by year.\"

Wise was injured after colliding with an official during warm-ups for the long jump Friday.

Chip Heuser claimed the runner-up spot and Scott Martin placed fourth in the men\'s pole vault. Heuser cleared 17-7.00 (5.36) and Martin cleared 17-3.00 (5.26).

Tydree Lewis earned third in the triple jump after leaping a season best 50-4.00 (15.34).

Frankie Wright also scored for OU in the triple, jumping 48-6.00 (14.78) en route to a sixth-place finish.

Brayon Brown placed fifth in the 800-meter run, running 1:52.89.

Ronnie Pines ran sixth in a tightly contested men\'s 60. Baylor\'s Jacob Norman won in 6.66. The next seven places were covered by exactly .10 seconds. Pines finished in 6.78.

Jason Coleman finished an impressive sixth in the men\'s mile, completing the race in 4:08.08.

Marcus Pugh placed sixth in the 200-meter dash, finishing in 21.57.

The men\'s 4x400-meter relay earned fifth despite losing one of its key members to an injury during warm-ups Friday. Josh Scott replaced Wise to help teammates Brown, Pugh and Wright to nearly missing a season best with a run of 3:13.39.

The Sooners will split up for competitions around the country next week as many will make their last chance attempts to earn a spot in the field for the NCAA National Indoor Championships in two weeks.