When Alex Rogers received the baton with one mile left in the distance medley relay at the 91st Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, he knew he had work to do. Sitting in third place, neck-and-neck with the teams from Texas A&M and Houston, the junior was not going to go down quietly on his home track.
Rogers kicked into gear halfway through the final lap, sprinting by the remainder of the pack on the final turn.
“I made three surges, and they matched every single one flawlessly,” Rogers said. “With 300 (meters) to go, I said I can’t make small moves anymore — I have to make the move. From 300 to 200, I was winding it up, and then with 200 (meters left) I just had to let it go.”
Rogers held his pace, flashing the horns as he crossed the finish line to the liking of the home crowd, which let out a roar.
“That was quite a feeling,” Rogers said. “The emotions, the pride and the excitement — it was all incredible. To do it in front of a home crowd, it doesn’t get much sweeter than that.”
For others, however, this was the grand finale of a career of competing at this meet. Senior Fabian Dohmann needed all six of his throws in the javelin to perform up to his standard, using his final throw to jump up from seventh to second in his final Texas Relays competition.
“I told myself, ‘I cannot get beaten like this in my last home meet,’” Dohmann said. “I’m glad I pulled it off in the very end. It would have been a very bitter flavor if I had not ended with that.”
For some, like freshman Tripp Piperi, this was their first experience competing at Mike A. Myers Stadium as Longhorns. Piperi was able to channel the excitement of throwing in front of the crowd to win the first outdoor meet of his collegiate career, this time throwing 19.6 meters.
“It feels awesome,” Piperi said. “I love coming to this meet, I love competing in front of everybody, it’s a great opportunity, and it feels amazing.”
Coming off an All-American performance in his first indoor track season, Piperi looked for a solid start to begin his outdoor career. His emotion after several big throws on the day was infectious with the rest of the team.
“His antics — he gets so excited. He’s so invested in it,” Texas interim head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “He’s just such a great inspiration to watch.”
But not every Longhorn found continued success from the indoor season. Indoor triple jump national champion O’Brien Wasome finished 10th in the event on Friday. But the sophomore was not worried about his performance heading into the meat of the outdoor season.
“I’m not feeling too bad. I fouled my first two jumps, but they felt really good, like how indoor felt,” Wasome said. “I’m just going to be confident that I felt how I felt at nationals, maybe better. I’m just enjoying it.”
The week at the Texas Relays was a gauge of the work that needs be put in the rest of the season. In just the first outdoor meet of the year, the Longhorns were able to display why they are ranked in the NCAA preseason top 20 with several big performances to begin the season.
“I was pretty satisfied. We had some ups and downs,” Buford-Bailey said. “It was just good to have people come out and get a good race under their belts. Through the week, just seeing some bright spots is really encouraging.”