10 May

By

TAKING IT OUTSIDE

ISAAC MURPHYTHE TEXAS RELAYS SET THE TONE FOR THE OUTDOOR SEASON 

LET THE OUTDOOR track & field season begin! Each year, the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays provide an electric environment for track & field competition — and this year was no different. The 86th Texas Relays took place March 27-30, with 34,814 in attendance at Mike A. Myers Stadium. From a crowd perspective, things ramped up the last two days as 30,273 attendees enjoyed perfect weather and an occasional southern wind that boosted athletes to exceptional results.

Coming into the meet ranked fourth nation- ally, the Texas men’s track & field team managed to win six of its 27 events. The Longhorns captured ...

gold in three relays, including the distance medley, the 4x800-meter relay and the 4x1500- meter relay. These wins marked the first time since 1973 that the men’s team recorded three first-place finishes in relay events.

The 4x800-meter relay team — consist- ing of Kyle Merber, Trevor Van Ackeren, Kyle Thompson and Patrick McGregor — also made history. Their victory captured Texas’ 10th all- time win in the event, the most in Texas Relays’ Texas’ win in the distance medley had fans at the edge of their seats, as they watched McGregor dig deep to come from behind and pass Texas A&M’s Henry Lelei on the race’s final lap.

“We knew beforehand it would be us and A&M,” McGregor said. “We knew those two on the end would be a great battle.” The men also swept the first five places in the Relays’ first-ever 10,000-meter race. Junior Ryan Dohner led the Longhorns with a time of 29:34.34. “That was the plan actually,” Dohner said about the sweep. “We were supposed to have a pacer take us through four to five miles, then just race out the last mile.”

The field events also proved fruitful for the Longhorns, as the team also picked up first-place finishes in the shot put and triple jump. Sophomore Ryan Crouser posted a personal best toss of 67’1⁄2” in the shot put. Senior Jarard Bruner notched a career-best leap of 50’111⁄2” in the triple jump.

The No. 5 Texas women’s team also per- formed admirably, qualifying for the finals in every relay competition and placing among the top three in each event. They took gold in the 4x200-meter relay, turning in a time of 1:32.37 — barely edging Texas A&M in the process.

“It was one of the most amazing feel- ings ever,” Chalonda Goodman said. “Cheering Courtney [Okolo] on through the finish line — that race was such an adrenaline rush.”

Junior Danielle Dowie also turned in a win after placing first in the 400-meter hurdles. Junior Brittany Marches came in fourth overall while breaking a school record she already owned in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase with a time of 10:31.59.

The women closed out the Relays with an exciting second-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay, with Florida edging them out at the finish line by four-hundredths of a second.

A number of collegiate athletes gather and compete at the Relays, including those not wear- ing burnt orange. Among them was Texas A&M’s Ameer Webb, who earned the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer in the university/college division. Webb not only took the 100-meter title in 10.14 seconds but also led off A&M’s champion 4x100-meter relay and anchored the winning 4x200-meter relay. As painful as it is for the Longhorn faithful, those wins helped the Aggie men secure their title as the Most Outstanding Team of the Relays.

The Texas Relays not only display the nation’s best collegiate athletes but also pull from the high school ranks. The Most Outstanding Performer in the high school division was Tony Brown, who set a sta- dium record of 13.38 in the 110-meter hurdles. Brown is from Beaumont’s Ozen High, also home to senior Nekia Jones, who captured her second consecutive Relays shot put championship with a toss of 47’7.25”.

One of the state’s most highly recruited basketball players, she’ll join the Longhorn women’s basketball team this fall. And she wasn’t the only future Longhorn who took Texas Relays gold. Spencer Dunkerley- Offor, a senior at St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School in Austin, competed in the 110-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 14.05 sec- onds — the run coming just four days after he signed with Texas’ track & field team.

Among the many memorable moments at the 2013 Texas Relays, the collegiate pole vault competition stood out the most, with nine ath- letes clearing 18-1. The winner, Mississippi soph- omore Sam Kendricks, set a new stadium record. His 19-03⁄4 mark eclipsed the previous record of 19-01⁄4 set by Longhorn Jacob Davis in 1999. This was arguably one of the best vault competitions in college track history. In the entire 2012 NCAA track & field season, only six athletes vaulted 18-1 or higher and none cleared 19 feet.

Another special moment took place, not on the field of competition, but when the namesake of the Relays’ home stadium was honored with the unveiling of a statue. Mike A. Myers — who served as an honorary referee at this year’s Relays — joined university President Bill Powers and Texas Men’s Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds for the unveiling ceremony. Myers, who has a long and distinguished history of being a significant benefactor of various UT colleges and schools, has also long supported Texas Athletics, with the Mike A. Myers Stadium and Soccer Field opening in 1999.

Dodds commented that, “Everything he touches ends up doing well.”