MANHATTAN, Kan. — Firing on all cylinders, the Texas track and field team rolled to conference titles on both the men's and women's sides this weekend at the Big 12 Championships at Kansas State's R.V. Christian Track Complex.
The Longhorn men tallied 173 points and the Longhorn women recorded a meet-record 207 points, giving Texas a sweep of the Big 12's Indoor and Outdoor titles. It is just the fifth time in conference history that a program has achieved the feat; four of those have been by UT.
Texas sprinter Kennedy Flannel was named the Big 12 Outdoor High Point Award winner after setting a school record in the 200 meters, winning two individual events and anchoring the Longhorns' victorious 4-by-100-meter relay.
Flannel set a program record in the 200 meters (22.47 seconds) in the prelims. Flannel finished as the meet's high scorer on the women's side, clocking a time of 11.19 seconds to win the 100 meters and 22.62 to claim to the 200 meters crown Sunday. She also anchored the 4-by-100-meter relay, which also consisted of Chanel Brissett, Kevona Davis and Rhasidat Adeleke; the foursome won the event with a time of 44.36 seconds.
"It is very special," Flannel said. "I feel like we all put our bodies on the line, especially in this weather. We all went out there competing to the best of our ability. So it means a lot."
The teams competing in the championship battled bad weather and temperatures in the mid-60s, and the Longhorns ran on Kansas State's track for the first time in over nine seasons, but that did not stop head coach Edrick Floréal's team from capturing 18 individual titles and score in 95.2 percent of the 21 contested events.
“I’m extremely proud. We've been building this team for the last couple of years," Floréal said. "Obviously, we didn't get a chance to throw this party last year due to COVID, but the kids were very excited. They were looking forward to the challenge, and I think we responded well.”
Kristine Blazevica won UT's first individual Big 12 title when she scored 5,947 points in the heptathlon. She sat in fourth place, trailing by 41 points, following the first day of competition, despite recording personal bests in the 100-meter hurdles (13.77 seconds), high jump (1.72 meters) and 200 meters (24.93). But she capped off her event on Saturday, dominating the rest of the field as she won by 175 points. Blazevica tallied wins in both the long jump (6.29 meters) and 800 meters (2:14.44), as well as a fourth-place showing in the javelin (39.62 meters) to move from fourth to first Saturday.
Her 800 meters performance was especially notable, considering that she was racing runners who had slightly faster PRs, and waited to make her move until the final straightaway.
"I was just trying to keep up with them (the other competitors) because I know their personal bests are a little bit better," Blazevica said. "I realized if I start a little bit slower the first lap, then I have enough to finish strong.”
Leo Neugebauer completed UT's sweep of the multi-event competitions, notching a victory in the decathlon Saturday afternoon with 7,793 points, 4,139 of which came Friday, when he posted wins in the long jump (7.43 meters), the shot put (14.53 meters) and 400 meters (50.45). His consecutive victories in the 110-meter hurdles (15.10 seconds) and discus (48.52m) highlighted the second half of the event.
“This is my first outdoor season in the U.S. because I'm from Europe (Germany)," Neugebaurer said Saturday. "In Europe it's very different, especially decathlon, because we have way more time in between (events). So it's a whole different feeling, but honestly, this was a really nice competition because everything went kind of fast because there were not too many people.”
The highlight Saturday for Texas came when Tara Davis won the long jump with a leap of 6.97 meters, tying her for the third-longest in collegiate history. Despite the fact that she had just recovered from a sprained ankle, Davis showed no signs of struggle; her jump was 0.36 meters (14 inches) further than that of runner-up Monae' Nichols of Texas Tech.
"It was planned to do one jump and just be done," Davis said. "I had a sprained ankle for the past two weeks, so I just wanted to get that healthy and to do one jump and get ready for hurdles.”
Davis won the 100-meter hurdles in 13.02 seconds, edging Baylor's Ackera Nugent by .05 seconds, to earn her second Big 12 title of the weekend.
Yusuf Bizimana claimed titles in both the 800 meters (1:46.84) and 1,500 meters (3:44.87). His time in the 800 ranked fourth in program history, and No. 9 in the nation this season.
Micaiah Harris also earned a key victory for the Longhorn men, taking the 200 meters title in 20.56 seconds for the first Big 12 outdoor title of his career. He also ran on the 4-by-100-meter relay, which finished in 39.79 seconds, .04 behind TCU.
Next for the Longhorns is a short trip to College Station for the NCAA West Preliminary Round May 26-29.