Texas women’s track and field places seventh at NCAA Outdoor Championships

13 Jun By
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Kristine Blazevica NCAA Day 4
Kristine Blazevica scored six points in heptathlon at NCAA Outdoor Championships (photo courtesy of NCAA / texassports.com)

EUGENE, Oregon- Behind 14 points on the final day of competition at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the Texas women finished in a tie for seventh in the team standings with Florida, tallying 28 points.

As was expected, USC claimed the women's team title, scoring 74 points, and Texas A&M placed second with 63 points.

Highlighting Texas' performance on Saturday was true freshman Kristine Blazevica, who finished on the podium in third in the Heptathlon. Blazevica entered the second half of the seven-event contest with a score of 3,501, and stayed on personal-best pace for the final three events, finishing with a career-high score of 5,984. It was just 301 points off national champion Tyra Gittens' score of 6,285, and the Latvian native became the first freshman since 2017 to place in the top three in the event.

She opened Saturday's action with perhaps her strongest event, the long jump, where she took fourth with a leap of 6.08 meters. Blazevica then posted a fifth-place mark in the javelin, throwing 41.46 meters to add 695 points to her score entering the 800-meter run.

It appeared that she saved the best for last, looking not the slightest bit fatigued in the 800-meters, as the Longhorn crossed the line in a time of 2:13.51, just 1.38 seconds behind Miami's Michelle Atherley, who won the event. Blazevica finished second to Atherley in the fast-paced section two race, and took second overall, as her time was a personal-best. That performance added 914 points to her score, bringing it to just below the 600-point mark at 5,984. It was the third-best performance in the event in program history.

The women's 4x100-meter relay opened the day's running events, as Texas took fifth in the final, clocking a time of 43.20 seconds. It was an extremely competitive race, considering that seven of the nine teams running were in the top 10 in the world based on their top time during this season. Chanel Brissett led off the relay, clocking a split of just over 11 seconds when she handed the baton off to Kevona Davis. Davis' leg was followed by a sensational leg from Rhasidat Adeleke, who pulled Texas back into contention. With Oregon disqualified due to a dropped baton on the handoff for leg three, it was a seven-team race, as Kynnedy Flannel picked up the anchor leg for the Horns. Flannel never wavered in her tremendous speed, and slightly gained ground on the four leaders, none of whom crossed the line more than a half-second ahead of Texas.

As with the format of most track meets, a relay both started and ended the meet, as the women's 4x400-meter relay put a bow on the 2021 outdoor national championships. Texas placed fifth in that final as well, with Texas A&M's Athing Mu running away from the rest of the field on the anchor leg as the Aggies notched a collegiate record with a first-place finish in 3:22.34.The pace was pushed for the entirety of the race, as eight of the nine teams, including Texas, recorded season-best times. The Longhorns clocked a time of 3:26.72, scoring four additional points.

Serenity Douglas opened the relay for Texas, clocking a split of just over 52 seconds when she handed off to Kennedy Simon. The Longhorns, running in lane nine, briefly dropped to last place on the second leg before the field moved into lane one. Adeleke posted yet another phenomenal sprint on the third leg, pulling her team into fifth place after making her move on the back straightaway. Texas was in fourth by the time Stacey Ann-Williams took the baton for the anchor leg, and while the Horns did not maintain that position, the fifth-place finish gave the Horns their highest finish at the NCAA outdoor meet since 2016.

Individually, Ann-Williams tallied three points for Texas by crossing the line sixth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 51.34 seconds, exactly a second off her personal best.

Davis also scored for the Horns in the sprint events, as the sophomore clocked a personal best in the 200-meter dash of 22.78 seconds. She finished eighth in the final, though stayed with the tight field for the majority of the race, keeping pace, but unable to contend with a late surge of speed from Cambrea Sturgis of North Carolina A&T, who won the event.

The meet concluded the collegiate season for Texas, though several Longhorns are expected to compete at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene from June 18-27.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley