The Longhorns travel to College Station this weekend to take on the nation’s top competitors at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 10 and 11.
With both the men and women’s teams nationally ranked in the top 10, head coach Mario Sategna set the bar high for his athletes.
“At this time of the year, obviously no matter what the event, you’re with the best of the best,” Sategna said. “We’ve got a veteran group, so I’m expecting some great results.”
To qualify for nationals, individuals must rank within the top 16 in their respective events, while teams must rank within the top 12. Texas had 13 individual athletes qualify — seven men and six women — as well as the men’s 4x400 meter relay team, fresh off a victory at the conference meet.
“Getting that win at the Big 12 (Championship) really gave us the confidence to go to nationals and really put a good time out there,” senior sprinter Chris Irvin said. “(Our goal is) to win our heat, run as fast as we can and see what happens.”
The team, made up of seniors Aldrich Bailey Jr., Senoj-Jay Givans and Byron Robinson, as well as Irvin, are ranked No. 7 in the country.
While many Longhorns have a plethora of experience at this stage of the season, redshirt junior Spencer Dunkerley-Offor will make his national debut in the 60-meter hurdles. Dunkerley-Offor, who squeaked into the competition at the No. 16 rank, said he intends to move up in the rankings after the event.
“My goal is just to run fast, do better than (what I) came in as, (and) not be ranked last,” Dunkerley-Offor said. “As soon as the gun goes off, I need to react a lot faster.”
Junior pole vaulter Kally Long plans to make her first appearance in nearly a month after facing an injury at the Husky Classic in February. Long, currently ranked No. 4, missed the landing mat on her opening vault, suffering head and chest injuries. Now fully healthy, Long looks to overcome her next obstacle at the meet.
“I’d love to get back where I left off,” Long said. “I was having an amazing season, so I would love to place and be able to jump close to my (personal record) again. But I’ll find small victories regardless of how I end up jumping.”
Sophomore sprinter Teahna Daniels aims to defend her title in the 60-meters. Daniels became the first freshman to win the event last year and won the Big 12 title this season as well.
“I’m more experienced, I know what’s going on this year, so I think that will give me an advantage,” Daniels said.