Over 20 Longhorns Qualify for Nationals at NCAA West Prelims

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A member of the UT track and field team runs at the 2016 Texas Relays in April.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

The one-day rain delay at the NCAA West Preliminary rounds didn’t phase the Longhorns.

The meet was supposed to start on Thursday, but inclement weather in Lawrence, Kansas moved it to Friday, changing the schedule and feel of the meet. But by the time it ended on Saturday, the Longhorns had 23 athletes qualify for June’s NCAA Championships. 

“We were obviously thrown some curveballs here with the weather and having to completely revamp the schedule,” head coach Mario Sategna said. “Our staff did a great job of getting everybody prepared. It’s about beating people head-to-head and they handled it first-class and things look really strong going into the national meet.”

After a day’s worth of anticipation, the Longhorns were ready to take the track. The stakes were high because only the top 12 out of each event would advance to nationals.

Kicking off the meet were the men’s and women’s 4x100 meter relays. Texas had been one of only seven schools to qualify all four of their relays for the NCAA West Preliminary rounds. The women’s team of freshman Teahna Daniels, senior Courtney Okolo, freshman Zola Golden and senior Morolake Akinosun clocked in at 44.64 seconds, qualifying for nationals in eighth overall.

The men’s team saw equal success as junior Charles Anumnu, junior Senoj-Jay Givans, senior Zack Bilderback and junior Aldrich Bailey Jr. qualified for nationals with a time of 39.62 seconds.

The team of junior Chrisann Gordon, Golden, sophomore Ariel Jones, and Okolo clocked the ninth fastest time in collegiate history in the 4x400 meter relay at 3:25.59 just behind Arkansas’ 3:25.48, also qualifying for nationals.

The sprinters showed depth and domination on the women’s side. Akinosun qualified in both the 100 meters and 200 meters with marks of 11.36 and 22.81 seconds, respectively. Okolo seized the top qualifying time in the 400 meters at 51.06 seconds with Gordon following close behind with a time of 51.39 seconds.

On the men’s side, Givans advanced to nationals with a time of 10.36 seconds in the 100 meter. Bilderback advanced in the 400 meter with a time of 46.52 seconds.

Freshman dual-athlete John Burt ran a time of 13.91 seconds in the 110 meter hurdles. Burt is also a wide receiver for the football team.

“I was super excited to see John Burt. He’s a competitor,” Sategna said. “He runs through those hurdles like he’s running across the middle to catch a pass. And that’s really important because we pride ourselves over the years in having some really good two-sport athletes.”

Freshman Ashley Miller qualified in the 100 meter hurdles on the women’s side with a time of 13.29 seconds, which was the ninth best time in school history. Jones took the sixth overall qualifying spot in the women’s 400 meter hurdles with a time of 57.61 seconds.

Texas also had plenty of qualifiers in pole vault. Sophomore Kally Long and redshirt freshman Ali Uhle both qualified for nationals on the women’s side, while senior Reese Watson and freshman Barrett Poth punched tickets on the men’s side.

The freshman jumpers Asa Garcia and Steffin McCarter lept to nationals in triple and long jump. Garcia’s leap of 12.93 meters was good enough for the eighth overall. McCarter led the group of three veteran Longhorns with a personal-best leap of 7.70 meters.

The NCAA Championships will take place June 8-11 in Eugene, Oregon.

“I think if we get there and do what we're capable of, I think we'll be more than satisfied as a team, as a program and as a university of what the possibilities might be," Sategna said.