Wednesday’s Texas Relays quietly became a great warm-up to what is likely to be a weekend to remember as athletes from all over the country displayed their talents.
Although the big names and faces were only seen in street clothes and attendance seemed thin, the commonly overlooked events and athletes provided stellar races and results for Texas.
In the morning, senior decathlon participant Isaac Murphy edged out Matthew Johnson from Sam Houston State in the 100-meter dash by a margin of .11 seconds. This dramatic win boosted Isaac Murphy in a day where he had a personal best in four of the five events. He also set personal records in the 100 meters (10.47), 400 meters (49.38), long jump (23-2.50/7.07m) and high jump (5-11.25/1.81m).
Kenny Greaves posted the best for three events — the 100 meters (11.21), long jump (21-10.75/6.67m) and high jump (6-2.75/1.90m).
Murphy is currently in fifth place after the first five events in the decathlon while senior Greaves is in ninth. Freshman Jake Wohlford sits at 11th.
Freshman Mike Quercia stole the show in long distance running as he slowly came back to barely win the 800-meter. With a time of 1:52.17, Quercia strongly finished in front of Doug Kelley from the University of Houston who ran a time of 1:52.34. This win gives Quercia his first collegiate victory. Kevin Rayes finished third with his personal best time of 1:53.41.
“It was nice to get my first college win,” Quercia said. “It’s a little windy, a little hot, so I’m happy. The time is kind of irrelevant right now.”
In the ‘B’ section, junior Brock Simmons prevailed in the 1,500-meter with the time of 3:53.76, a personal best. Kirk Wilkinson finished third (3:56.77), Rory Tunningley was fourth (3:57.72), Will Nation came in sixth (3:58.20), Phil Wood finished eighth (4:01.63) and Habben Berhane placed 11th (4:04.95).
In the steeplechase, runners overcome 28 barriers and seven water jumps throughout a 3,000-meter race. It is different than other hurdle races because athletes are allowed to jump on top of the barriers and deal with the unusual obstacle of water.
It originated in the British Isles as a race between one church steeple to another with natural obstacles in the way. Most of the earlier steeplechases were conducted cross-country rather than on a track, and resembled English cross-country, as it exists today. The first recorded steeplechase over a prepared track was in 1810. It became an Olympic event in 1920.
The lack of knowledge about this event represents the first days of Texas Relays quite well. They’re not really paid attention to, yet the steeplechases are just as important to the whole event as another race. Athletes, despite small crowds, exerted their best efforts, compiling excellent personal results, adding to an overall excellent day.