By Steve Lansdale
EUGENE, Ore. — In recent years, one of the reasons that the University of Texas has had one of the top women’s track and field teams in the nation is the Longhorns’ dominance in the 400 meters.
Senior Chrisann Gordon followed the UT playbook Saturday, winning the event and helping her team finish at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, making it four straight years in which Texas has finished in the top 10.
Her win in the 400 was the first individual national championship for Gordon, who led the entire way and hung on to cross the line first in 50.51 seconds. Her win was the seventh by a Longhorn in the event — more than twice as many as any other school — and the school’s third in the last four years.
“It means a lot to me,” Gordon said. “I want, when they talk about Texas and the 400, that they mention Chrisann Gordon’s name. It feels really good to be in the same league as Sanya Richards and Courtney Okolo.”
Texas head coach Mario Sategna admitted the pride he has in the Longhorns’ tradition of dominance in the 400, and said that Gordon’s victory in the event should serve as an effective springboard to the next stage of her career.
“You talk about tradition at The University of Texas with all the quarter-milers and she just duplicated great performances with what she did in the prelim to get her first NCAA title,” Sategna said. “Those are some great things as she now concludes this chapter of her time at Texas and just doing it the right way. I know she’s going to represent the University of Texas and her country for many years to come.”
Texas sprinter/hurdler Rushelle Burton became the fastest freshman in NCAA history when she placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in 12.65 seconds. Hers was the third-fastest time in school history and the 11th-fastest time in NCAA history.
“She was a bit nervous and not as confident going in, but I know Rushelle, and she’s a gamer,” associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “As soon as the gun went off, she was going for it. She was going for the win. And for her to have the fastest time ever by a freshman that is really impressive.”
Sophomore Teahna Daniels established a new personal record in the 100 meters to finish in third place in 11.06 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in program history.
“Teahna Daniels was primed and ready,” Sategna said. “Talking with her before the meet and seeing her in our team camp area knowing that she was keeping things loose, you could tell she was ready to run fast.”
Junior Ariel Jones finished fourth in the 400 meter hurdles in 56.52. An hour after winning the 400 meters, Gordon stepped on the track to run the anchor leg for the 4-by-400, running a 49.41 — the second-fastest 4-by-400 split in NCAA history — to help the Longhorns finish fifth.
The host Oregon Ducks won the national championship over runner-up Georgia.