Longhorn seniors and former Olympians lined the center of the field at Mike A. Myers Stadium as their names and accolades were called over the loudspeakers.
This was it. For the seniors, it was their last Texas Relays as collegiate competitors. For the graduated Olympians, it was their return for the invites or just a simple “stopping by.”
Sophomore Teahna Daniels hadn’t been to the Texas Relays finals before. Last year, Daniels’ fall after the first leg of the 4x100 relay put her in the hospital. This year, Daniels bolted down the back straight to hand off to sophomore Zola Golden. The team of senior Chrisann Gordon, Daniels, Golden and freshman Rushelle Burton took third overall with a time of 43.99 seconds.
Later, Daniels returned for a heat victory in the 200 meters with a time of 23.07.
“I’m really comparing my experience to last year’s when I was hurt,” Daniels said. “Coming back, having a huge, huge (personal record), and knowing that I can go even faster, it’s a huge accomplishment for myself.”
Although the Texas men’s 4x100 meter relay did not earn first place, the team showed depth, earning silver.
Senior Charles Anumnu rounded the first curve with a handoff to senior Aldrich Bailey. Then Bailey to sophomore Christopher Ntreh. Ntreh’s handoff to senior Carlton Anumnu came from a third place position, but Anumnu edged out Baylor for second place on the final stretch.
“It was very nice to watch my brother come from behind to get second,” Charles Anumnu said. “My brother is not a 100 meter runner, he’s a 400 meter runner. And Chris is basically still a baby. We had people who stepped up. That was just 50 percent.”
The Longhorns also impressed in the hurdle events, with Burton running a personal best 12.80 seconds for second place in the 100 meter hurdles.
“Instead of thinking about my other competitors I thought about what I was going to do when I heard the gun, which is just push,” Burton said. “After running the (4x100 meter relay) I was feeling a little bit of discomfort in my hamstring. I was very nervous and very tired.”
After two broken hurdles and a false start in the lanes next to him, junior Spencer Dunkerley-Offor had to stay focused. With his mind on his start, Dunkerley-Offor finished the 110 meter hurdles in 13.66 seconds, placing third overall. But he still wasn’t satisfied.
“It’s still a good time, it’s just not the race I was looking for,” Dunkerley-Offor said. “The good thing about me as a hurdler is that I really accelerate through hurdles four through 10. That’s not something a lot of hurdlers can say, at least not to the same extent.”
Texas’ distance runners also showed they could contend with the best. Sophomore Alex Rogers finished second with a time of 4:01.65 and 2012 Olympian Leo Manzano followed behind him in third.
Highlighting the field events was freshman Elena Bruckner, who took first overall in the discus with a throw of 54.64 meters and fourth overall in the shot put with a throw of 16.04 meters.
“We had some unbelievable performances today,” head coach Mario Sategna said. “People that aspire to that level, the blueprint is there and that’s the difference.”