Track roundup: Longhorns gear up for big weekend on the road

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Underclassmen lead Longhorn men into Husky Classic, Tyson Invitational

Long-distance runner Sam Worley’s 4:03:91 finish to edge UTEP’s Jonah Koech in the mile at the New Mexico Classic on Feb. 2 may have surprised some, as Worley posted the nation’s ninth-best time as only a freshman.

But this top-20-ranked Texas team will rely on a host of underclassmen to lead the charge as the Longhorns head to Seattle for the Husky Classic and Fayetteville for the Tyson Invitational this weekend.

Alongside redshirt sophomore John Rice, who won last weekend’s 3,000-meter run, freshman Connor O’Neill and junior Charles Mills, Worley leads a group of distance runners to Seattle who are coming off a solid weekend in Albuquerque. Texas had five runners place in both the top-10 final times of the mile run and 3,000 meter run.

As the long-distance runners will try to carry last week’s momentum into Washington, freshman sprinter Micaiah Harris and redshirt freshman Andrew Price will look to continue last week’s success in Fayetteville. The pair each finished in the top three in a short-distance event a week ago.

They will be going head-to-head with some of the country’s top runners, including Arkansas junior Obi Igbokwe, who holds the nation’s top time in the 400-meter run.

In Albuquerque, redshirt junior pole vaulter Barrett Poth continued to make strides on this season, posting a season-best 5.38-meter jump to place second. As Poth and this youthful Longhorns squad split off to opposite corners of the country this weekend, meets against elite competition could be the driving force of confidence as Texas heads into the home stretch of the year.

With the Big 12 Championship meet looming only two weeks away, success this weekend is integral for Texas to keep its conference title hopes alive.

Longhorn women head to Washington and Arkansas

The Longhorn women’s track and field team has two meets this week as the distance runners separate from the team to go to Washington for the Husky Classic. The rest of the team is off to Arkansas to compete in the Tyson Invitational.

This weekend is another important one for the team. The bar is now the highest it has been all season considering the way the Longhorns have performed this season. Every week, new records — personal and school — have been set. This weekend presents an opportunity for Texas to put itself in position for a Big 12 championship and even a national championship.

Texas’ athletes and coaching staff know that extra intensity is required at this time of the year.

“We need to step it up at this point in the season,” associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “The intensity level is a key factor to keep an eye on in both Washington and Arkansas.”

In terms of a singular competitor to keep an eye on, sophomore thrower Elena Bruckner is one to watch out for. She is currently ranked No. 12 on the NCAA list, which qualifies her for the national meet. Several coaches have noticed Bruckner’s ability.

“Things are starting to click. She’s starting to connect with the ball,” associate head coach Ty Sevin said. “I love it when people’s eyes light up and you can tell they are enjoying competing, and I’m really liking that about Elena right now.”

Texas head coach Mario Sategna also said he noticed a fire lit under Bruckner once her teammate Lauryn Caldwell broke the school record in the shot put.

Bruckner will be a main focus over the weekend. But as a whole, the Longhorns will be looking to improve on what has been a solid season up to this point.