09 Jun

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Texas Longhorns Track and Field Ready for NCAA Outdoor Championships

Top-ranked women and No. 5 men to compete in four-day national meet, which begins Wednesday in Eugene, Oregon. (Image via University of Texas Athletics)
Top-ranked women and No. 5 men to compete in four-day national meet, which begins Wednesday in Eugene, Oregon. (Image via University of Texas Athletics)

2014 NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
• When: Wednesday, June 11 - Saturday, June 14  - Meet Information | Meet NotesGet Acrobat Reader
• Where: Eugene, Oregon (Hayward Field)
• EntriesMen | Women
• Start Lists: Men - Day One | Women - Day One
• VideoNCAA Outdoor meet preview (June 7, 2014)
• Live Results: Click here
The Track and Field team, ranked No. 1 nationally on the women's side and fifth on the men's, is heading to the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships, which will be held in Eugene, Oregon. The men and women have a combined 28 qualifiers, 26 of which were posted at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Fayetteville, Ark. The women have 16 entries in 12 events, a total that is tied for second most in the field. The men have 12 qualifiers in 10 events, which is tied for fifth highest in the meet. There are 24 entries in each event. Thirteen women and 12 men are expected to compete for the Longhorns during the four-day meet which begins Wednesday.

Leading the Way: At the end of regular season, the Longhorns had the No. 1 and/or No. 2 mark on the NCAA performers list in five women's events – 100, 400, 5,000, 4x400 and pole vault - and one men's - shot put. They also had four of the top five performers in the women's 400 with all qualifying for the national meet.
• 100 meters: Morolake Akinosun - No. 2 (10.99w)
• 400 meters: Courtney Okolo - No. 1 (collegiate-record 50.03), Kendall Baisden - No. 2 (50.57)
• 5,000 Meters: Marielle Hall - No. 2 (15:19.26)
• 4x400-Meter Relay: Briana Nelson, Courtney Okolo, Kendall Baisden, Ashley Spencer - No. 1 (3:25:05 - fourth-best time in collegiate history)
• Pole Vault: Kaitlin Petrillose - tied for No. 1 (14-9/4.50m)
• Shot Put: Ryan Crouser - No. 1 (70-2.25/21.39m)

Looking to Repeat: Johannes Hock (decathlon) and Ryan Crouser (shot put) will be looking to repeat as NCAA outdoor champions. Hock secured the second decathlon crown in UT history by winning a back-and-forth event with 8,267 points, the ninth-best total in collegiate history. He became just the second freshman to win the event at the national meet (Tito Steiner of BYU, 1977). Trey Hardee is the only other Longhorn to win the NCAA decathlon crown (2005). Crouser capped off last season with his first national shot-put title and then second in the history of the program. Crouser, who grew up less than two hours from Eugene in Boring, Ore., only had one legal throw among his six attempts, but his toss of 66-7 3/4 inches (20.31m) was all he needed to out duel the 24-man field. That wasn't the first NCAA title for the Crouser family. His uncle, Dean Crouser, was a three-time NCAA champion for Oregon, winning the shot put and discus in 1982, and discus in 1983. Another uncle, Brian Crouser, is a two-time NCAA javelin champion (1982, 1985). Crouser also won the 2014 NCAA indoor shot put title.

Something Old and Something New: While the Texas women, No. 1 in the USTFCCCA computer rankings over the last four weeks, have six seniors among their qualifiers, the No. 5 men are without a senior heading to Eugene. Briana Nelson, Danielle Dowie and Shanay Briscoe are seasoned veterans having each appeared at the three previous NCAA Outdoor meets. Meanwhile, fellow senior Katie Hoaldridge is making her first appearance at a national meet and the men will have six freshmen in action - Senoj-Jay Givans, Charles Anumnu, Chris Irvin, Pieter Conradie, Fabian Jara Dohmann and Wolf Mahler.

Doubling Up: Junior Ryan Crouser will be one of just six athletes competing in both the shot put and discus at the NCAA Outdoor meet. Crouser, who had the best shot-put mark in the nation and seventh-best discus throw during the regular season, is joined by Antonio James of Michigan State, Filip Mihaljevic of Virginia, Stephen Mozia of Cornell, Kole Weldon of Texas Tech and Chad Wright of Nebraska. Crouser, Mozia, Weldon and Wright are in both events for the second-straight year.

Three on Bowerman Watch List: There are three Longhorns on the most recent watch list for The Bowerman, an award that honors the top male and female collegiate track and field athlete in the nation. Ryan Crouser has been on the men's list throughout the spring. Courtney Okolo and Kaitlin Petrillose are among the 10 women on the watch list released following the regional meets. Morolake Akinosun, Johannes Hock and Ashley Spencer have spent time on the list during either the indoor or outdoor season.

Raising the Bar: The Longhorns will head into the NCAA Outdoor Championships with two of the top pole vaulters in the nation. Junior Kaitlin Petrillose, the 2014 NCAA indoor champion, improved a UT outdoor record that she originally set at the 2013 Big 12 Championships (14-3.50/4.36m) with a national-leading clearance of 14-9 (4.50m) at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays (April 28). That mark ranks tied for No. 9 on the all-time collegiate outdoor performance list and tied for fifth among performers. She also added a clearance of 14-8 (4.47m) two weeks later at the Texas Invitational (April 12), the third-best collegiate performance this season and then set a meet record with a winning clearance of 14-6 (4.42m) at the Big 12 Outdoor meet. Petrillose and Sandi Morris of Arkansas ended the regular season as the top-ranked vaulters in the nation. Morris cleared 14-9 (4.50m) at the SEC Championships. At the Texas Invitational, sophomore Reese Watson improved his personal best, clearing a mark of 18-1 (5.51m) to become the eighth Longhorn in school history to clear 18 feet outdoors. Watson, a 2013 second-team outdoor All-American, ranked tied for 10th on the final 2014 NCAA performers list and was third in the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.

Fast Freshmen: The Longhorn sprint crew has received a boost from three freshmen this season. Kendall Baisden has had a strong season for the women and as have Senoj-Jay Givans and Chris Irvin for the men. All three impressed in their first conference meet. Baisden was voted the 2014 Big 12 Indoor Women's Freshman of the Year after finishing fourth in the 400-meter final in a then personal-best 52.59, fifth in the 200 in 23.77 and running the second leg of the 4x400-meter relay, which was second in 3:36.57. Givans won the third 60-meter men's crown in UT history and first in 11 years. He matched his career best by clocking a 6.64 in the final. He was also fourth in the 200 (21.36). Irvin, who started the year as a multi-event performer, scored in a pair of events at the Big 12 Indoor meet. Competing for the first time in the 400 meters, he placed fifth in the prelims with a time of 47.55 and then claimed fourth in the finals with personal-best 47.31. He capped off that weekend by running the anchor leg of the winning 4x400-meter relay. It marked the Longhorns' first-ever Big 12 title in the event. Baisden went on to earn a pair of All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor meet. She was fifth in the 400m in a personal-best 52.01 and ran the third leg of the 4x400m relay that posted the second-fastest time (3:27.42) in collegiate indoor history. Givans also reached the NCAA Indoor meet, claiming second-team All-America honors for finishing 15th in the 200m prelim. All three have continued to shine during outdoors. Baisden scored in three events at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships and was the tabbed the freshman of the year. She was second in the 400 in a personal-best 50.46, a that time ranks second on the all-time U.S. Junior list and ninth on the all-time collegiate outdoor performer's chart. She also ran the third leg of the 4x400m relay at the Penn Relays, which clocked a 3:25.05 - the top time in the nation and fourth-best in collegiate outdoor history. Givans won the 200 meters and was second in the 100 at the Big 12 meet. He ranked in the top 30 of the final 2014 NCAA performers list in the both the 100m (10.10a - seventh) and 200m (20.63w - 27th), and has qualified in those events for the NCAA Championships. Givans (third) and Irvin (fourth) ran legs of the 4x100m relay which was seeded 11th (39.71) in the NCAA West Preliminary Round and qualified for the national meet. In addition, Irvin ran the opening leg on the 4x400m relay that was seeded No. 5 in the West (3:05.13) and qualified for nationals. Irvin was seventh in the 400m at the Big 12 Oudoor meet.

Hall Sets Herself Apart in Final Season: Marielle Hall has had a standout senior season. In the fall, she claimed both the Big 12 and NCAA South Central Regional cross country titles before securing All-America honors at the national meet. In March, she swept the mile and 3,000-meter titles at the Big 12 Indoor Championships to earn the female performer of the meet. Hall's outdoor season has been no different as she set the school record and posted one of the best 5,000-meter marks in collegiate history at the Stanford Invitational (April 5). Her time of 15:19.26 easily outdistanced the Section 1 field of 26 at the elite distance meet. She not only eclipsed the UT record of 15:46.00 set by Annie Schweitzer in 1987 by nearly 30 seconds, but also reached No. 10 on the all-time collegiate outdoor performers list. That time is also No. 11 in the world this year. Over the last five years only four women have clocked a better time during a collegiate meet, including Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth, the two-time defending NCAA 5,000m champion, and Betsy Saina (formerly of Iowa State), the 2012 NCAA indoor 5,000m and 2013 NCAA 10,000m champion. Hall also had the top 1,500-meter time in the nation earlier this season after clocking a personal-best 4:17.10 at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays (March 29). She went on to post a career-best time of 4:35.27 in the mile at the Penn Relays. That time converts to 4:14.88 in the 1,500m which ranked No. 6 on the final 2014 NCAA performer's list. Hall earned her fourth Big 12 title of 2013-14 when she cruised to the victory in the 1,500 at outdoors. She was the favorite in the 5,000m, though did not compete in the race since the team title was already in hand. Hall was sixth overall in the 5,000 at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in a time of 16:08.97, which easily won her heat.

Double Dipping: Ryan Crouser is ranked among the nation's best in both the shot put and discus. Crouser, a two-time NCAA champion in the event, captured his fourth Big 12 shot put title at the 2014 league outdoor meet. He also won the discus for the first time, becoming the sixth Big 12 athlete to win both the discus and outdoor shot put. Crouser had record performances in both events. One day after winning the shot put in a meet and school-record 70-2 1/2 (21.39m), Crouser took home the discus title with a Big 12- and UT-record toss of 209-8 (63.90). Crouser snapped his own UT mark in the shot put and the school discus record of 208-9 set by Jim McGoldrick at the 1976 Kansas Relays. Crouser has led the nation in the shot put throughout the outdoor season and was seventh on the final discus performer's list. Crouser, a junior, claimed the 2012 Big 12 indoor title, but redshirted last year indoors while recovering from offseason injuries. Crouser made up for that during the 2013 outdoor season as he won both the Big 12 and NCAA titles. Crouser captured the 2014 league indoor title with a toss of 67-8 1/4 (20.63m). He recorded a then school-record toss of  69-9 1/2 (21.27m) at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. He ranks No. 5 on the 2014 world performers list in the shot put. Crouser's top shot-put marks over the last two seasons are the best performances at any collegiate meet since Ryan Whiting's toss of 72-1 (21.97m) at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Briscoe Reigns Supreme in High Jump: Senior Shanay Briscoe won her fourth Big 12 outdoor high jump title in as many years and her third conference season sweep following a victory at the 2014 indoor meet (also 2011 and 2013) less than two weeks ago. She became the first female high jumper to win four straight Big 12 outdoor titles and just the second athlete to win all four either indoors or outdoors, joining Longhorn Andra Manson, who captured all four men's indoor titles from 2004-07. Briscoe also broke a tie with former Longhorns Erin Aldrich and Destinee Hooker for most league high jump titles. Aldrich and Hooker had six apiece, with each winning three indoors and outdoors. Erik Kynard of Kansas State has the most on the men's side with six (three indoors and outdoors). An eight-time All-American (five first team; three second team), Briscoe's season-best clearance in the high jump - 6 3/4 (1.85m) - occurred during her heptathlon performance at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. She had the No. 1 seed in the NCAA West Preliminary Round, Briscoe was fifth at the 2014 NCAA Indoor meet in the high jump. She was third in the high jump at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor meet and was second the following year.

Did You Know?: Ryan Crouser is the fifth collegian to throw the shot put 70 or more feet and the discus 200-plus feet during a career, according to Track and Field News. Crouser accomplished the feat with his school-record 70-2 1/2 (21.39m) performance at the 2014 Big 12 Outdoor meet. He also had a Big 12- and UT-record toss of 209-8 (63.90) at the same meet, though has cleared 200 feet three other times this year. Randy Matson (Texas A&M), John Brenner (UCLA), John Godina (UCLA) and Ryan Whiting (Arizona State) are also on the 70/200 list. In addition, Crouser became the 16th athlete to reach 70 feet in the shot put either indoors or outdoors, according to Track and Field News.

Texas Tidbits:
• Marielle Hall is competing in her second NCAA Outdoor Championships (also 1,500m in 2012) and not only has a good chance to secure just the second outdoor distance title in school history, but also become the first Longhorn to score in either the 1,500, 5,000 or 10,000 meters in 26 years. Trina Leopold finished fifth in the 5,000 at the 1988 NCAA Outdoor Championships, one year after Annie Schweitzer won the national title in the event. That is the only crown the Longhorns have claimed outdoors in one of those three events. Hall, a senior, is one of the favorites in the 5,000 after ranking No. 2 on the final 2014 NCAA performer's list with her school-record time of 15:19.26 set at the Stanford Invitational in April. She could have also qualified for nationals in the 1,500 after ranking No. 6 in the nation in the regular season, but is concentrating on the 5,000 in the postseason.
• Fabian Jara Dohmann had quite the season debut. He competed in the javelin at the Big 12 meet and came away with the title. He became the second Longhorn to win the Big 12 javelin with a personal-best toss of 243-7 (74.25m). Tom Engwall captured the 2004 crown with a toss of 239-6 (72.99). Dohmann is just the second Longhorn to win the javelin at the conference meet in the last 23 years. Collegiate record-holder Patrik Boden won the Southwest Conference crown from 1989-91. Dohmann was No. 6 on the final 2014 NCAA performer's list and is seeded second in the NCAA West Preliminary Round. Dohmann was expected to redshirt during his freshman season. He had a  then personal best of 236-8 (72.14m) and had thrown 224-2 (68.33m) as an unattached competitor this season. Jara Dohmann is seeking to become just the second Longhorn to score in the event in the last 23 years. Nathan Junius was second in the javelin at the 2002 NCAA meet. Prior to that, the last UT athlete to score was Patrik Boden in 1991, which was the last of three straight NCAA titles. Boden is also the collegiate record holder.

By The Numbers…
1...Kendall Baisden ended the regular season second in the 400 meters (50.46a) on the 2014 NCAA performers list. She was one of just four freshmen among the top 20. Baisden was also 14th overall in the 200 meters (22.99w), but second among first-year performers. She will not compete in the 200 at the NCAA West Regional.

1…Senoj-Jay Givans is one of 12 athletes, but the lone freshman, competing in both the 100 and 200 meters at the NCAA Championships.

2…Senoj-Jay Givans ranked second among freshmen (seventh overall) in the 100 meters (10.13a) on the final 2014 NCAA performers list. He was also 27th (seventh among freshmen) on the 200-meter performers list with a time of 20.63w.

4...The UT women owned four of the top five positions on the final 2014 NCAA 400-meter performers list. No other team had more than one athlete in the top 10. Only two teams (Florida - three; Oregon - 2) had multiple athletes ranked in the top 20. Courtney Okolo led the way with her collegiate record 50.03a clocked at the Big 12 Outdoor meet. Kendall Baisden (50.46a - No. 2) and Briana Nelson (51.22a - No. 4) posted times at the same meet. Ashley Spencer made her outdoor debut in the 400 at the Longhorn Invitational (May 3) and posted a 51.41, the fifth-best time in the nation.

4...The Longhorns posted four of the top 16 and six of the best 30 times on the final 2014 NCAA women's 200-meter performers list. Only Texas A&M (three), Oregon (two) and USC) had more than one in the top 20. Ashley Spencer's time of 22.69w was No. 4, Morolake Akinosun was tied for sixth with her 22.80w, Kendall Baisden was 14th (22.99w) and Courtney Okolo 16th with her 23.04w. Christy Udoh and Briana Nelson were tied for 27th at 23.24w.

6...Texas has won eight of the last nine, including the previous six, women's Big 12 outdoor high jump titles. Shanay Briscoe won the last four, becoming the only woman to record that feat.

7...The Texas women have captured eight Big 12 Outdoor Conference crowns (1997-99, 2003-04, '06, '12, '14).

13...Ryan Crouser has won his last 13 shot put competitions, dating back to the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships where he finished 16th. Those victories include three Big 12 titles and two NCAA crowns.

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.