17 Feb

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Strong performances cap Track and Field’s indoor regular season

(Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards/ The Daily Texan)

(Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards/ The Daily Texan)


One day after posting top national times in the women’s 60, 400 and 5,000 meters, as well as the men’s 60 and 400 meters, the Texas track and field team capped off the indoor regular season Saturday at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., and the Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa, with more impressive performances, including a stellar 4x400-meter relay time.
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In the final event of the day at the Tyson Invitational, the top-ranked Texas women posted the best 4x400-meter relay time in the nation this season and a mark just outside the all-time indoor collegiate top 10. The foursome of Kendall Baisden, Briana Nelson, Courtney Okolo and Ashley Spencer crossed the finish line in 3 minutes, 30.12 seconds, well ahead of second-place Texas Tech (3:34.15) and eclipsing Oregon’s national-leading 3:30.52a (adjusted for altitude) recorded Friday at the Don Kirby Elite meet in Albuquerque, N.M. Texas A&M’s time of 3:29.93 at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships ranks No. 10 on the all-time performance list.
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With that time, the Longhorns are nearly assured of a trip to nationals in the 4x400m relay with the schools posting the top 12 times earning bids.
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Okolo also finished second in the 200 meters Saturday in a personal-best 23.48, a time which places her among the top 15 on this year’s NCAA performers list. The top 16 in each individual event advance to next month’s NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque.
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Spencer entered the meet ranked tied for 11th nationally in the 200m (23.46) and Friday she posted the second-best 400-meter time in the nation (52.33), surpassing Okolo’s 52.51a, which is third.
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For the 13th-ranked UT men, Zack Bilderback followed up Friday’s personal-best 46.47 in the 400 meters (No. 12 on the 2014 NCAA performers list) with a career-best 21.18 in the 200. Saturday’s time was eighth in a deep 63-man field, but ranks fourth on the school’s all-time indoor 200-meter performers list and moves him into the top 30 on this year’s collegiate list.
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There were also a number of other personal bests in the men’s 200 with four freshmen - Senoj-Jay Givans (21.36), Charles Anumnu (21.66), Carlton Anumnu (21.83) and Montrel Meander (21.88) - each eclipsing their previous best.
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While 38 men and women made the trip to Arkansas, a contingent of 22 (mostly distance runners) headed to Iowa State.
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The Longhorn men won two of their six races at the ISU Classic. Freshman Robert Uhr captured Saturday’s 1,000 meters in 2:27.75. Pieter Conradie, who was second in Saturday’s 400 meters in a personal-best 48.10, won the 600 yards on Friday in a career-best time of 1:10.94.
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On the field events side at the Tyson Invitational, Texas got a third-place finish in the championship pole vault from Reese Watson with a clearance of 17 feet, 7 inches (5.36m). Mark Thomas was sixth in the same event with a personal-best 17-3 (5.26m).
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The UT men and women’s team entered the weekend ranked in the top 10 nationally in eight events, including five with a top-five mark, and added to that total the last two days.
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The Longhorns unofficially have four athletes among the top 13 on this season’s women’s 400-meter national performers list. Nelson, who was also competing in her first 400m race of the yearFriday, clocked a time of 53.15, which ranks tied for 12th this season. Baisden, just a freshman, had a career-best 53.23 in that race (No. 13 in the nation).
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Givans had a breakout performance Friday at Arkansas against some of the top sprinters in the nation. He improved his personal best time in all three 60-meter races, including a 6.64 in the finals, a time tied for the sixth-best performance in school history and No. 16 on the 2014 collegiate performers list.
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Sara Sutherland shined at Iowa State Friday. She clocked the eighth-best 5,000-meter time in the nation at 15:53.98, which was just off her career best and UT record 15:50.04 (2013). The senior has posted the top four indoor 5,000-meter times in school history.
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The Longhorns are off next weekend and will prepare for the Big 12 Indoor Championships which is set for Feb. 28-March 1 at ISU’s Lied Recreation Center.
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For complete results:
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Article courtesy of UT Athletic Department

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address: briankendall.wordpress.com