Youth a key factor for Longhorns at Texas Relays

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Of the  7,700-plus athletes who entered to compete at the Texas Relays this week, 18 of them are freshmen for the Longhorns.

Two of them, Virginia Preiss and George Patrick, made their respective debuts in the heptathlon and decathlon on Wednesday.

Preiss, a redshirt freshman, was originally a pole vaulter in high school before spending a year converting to Texas’ multi-group. Preiss made a strong first impression on Wednesday by winning her heat in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 15.09 seconds, a personal best. At the end of day one, she currently sits in 23th place.

Patrick was impressive in his debut as well, collecting personal records in both the long jump (7.38 meters) and high jump (2.00 meters). Patrick’s performances put him in fourth place and helped push his teammates to follow suit.

“This is easier than I thought it would be,” Patrick said. “This is an environment that doesn’t make it hard, that’s for sure. I have a good group of coaches, a good training staff. If this is the hardest it gets, I’ll be happy.’”

Former Longhorn Trey Hardee was quick to praise the freshman. 

“George doesn’t know what end is up,” Hardee said. “He’s just this little freshman, you know, he’s as green as they come. But he’s super, super talented.”

Juniors Steele Wasik and Wolf Mahler put on a show during Wednesday’s events. Both athletes shattered their previous records in the shot put, Wasik hurling for 14.14 meters and Mahler for 12.67 meters.

The Texas Relays is one of the largest stages for multi-event athletes to qualify for the NCAA Championships. So far, the trio of decathletes have a combined 15 personal best marks in their first five events of the outdoor season. 

Wasik currently leads the Longhorns at fourth overall with 4,054 points, with Mahler and Patrick following at fifth and sixth with 4,041 and 3,991 points respectively.

“There’s definitely a piggyback effect,” Wasik said. “If George (Patrick) goes out and gets a huge long jump, me and Wolf (Mahler) are like ‘Oh crap, we can’t let the freshman beat us.’ We’re very competitive with each other.”

Texas will rely on more of its younger athletes to continue the momentum through the rest of the week.

Coming off superb performances at the NCAA Indoor Championships, freshmen Rushelle Burton and Obrien Wasome look to continue their run of excellence. Burton took fifth place in the 60m hurdles at nationals and Wasome took third in the triple jump. Both athletes will participate in their respective events on Friday.

“The big thing that I’m wanting to see this weekend is for these younger athletes to gain experience at a very high level,” head coach Mario Sategna said. “It’s now time for these up-and-comers to get on the court and be ready to get after it.”

The 90th Texas Relays will pick back up on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at Mike A. Myers Stadium.