Brittany Marches

With most of the team resting for the Longhorn Invitational on Saturday, Texas sent a small group of mostly long distance runners to Walnut, Calif. to compete in the 55th annual Mt. SAC Relays on Thursday and Friday.

Of those donning the burnt orange and white will be junior Brittany Marches. This will be only the third time this outdoor season that Marches will compete in her signature event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase. But if her first two races are any indicators of how she will do, spectators can expect Marches to cross the line with a top-five finish on Thursday.

Junior Shanay Briscoe will be the only non-long distance Longhorn at the relays. Briscoe will look to outdo the rest of the field in Friday’s high jump competition as she aims to win the event for the first time this outdoor season. Bricoe’s closest encounter to the top of the podium came more than two weeks ago at the Texas Relays when she finished third.

In total, 13 Longhorns will compete in just six events over the two-day period. Friday will end with five Texas members racing in the 5,000-meters just hours before the Longhorn Invitational begins.

The No. 7 Longhorns will host seven other teams Saturday at Mike A. Myers stadium for the Texas Invitational.

Texas is coming off a meet last week in which no victories were scored for the team and the only second place finish came by way of redshirt freshman Kaitlin Petrillose’s pole vault.

Saturday will give competitors like sprinter Christy Udoh and long-distance runner Brittany Marches another chance to perfect their craft as Texas eyes the Big 12 Championships nearing its way in early May.

Both Udoh and Marches recorded personal bests in their respective events at last year’s Texas Invitational, with Udoh clocking an 11.34 in the 100-meter dash and Marches finishing with a time of 4:35.98 in the 1,500-meters race. Marches will also aim to outdo herself again in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, in which she broke her

own school record two weeks ago at Mike A. Myers stadium.

Besides No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 19 Baylor, the Longhorns will not face a heavy array of competition. The one-day event will not be scored and is one of two meets scheduled in Austin these next two weeks.

The Longhorns began their 2013 Texas Relays campaign Thursday afternoon when the 400-meter hurdle preliminary race took place.

Junior Danielle Dowie clocked a preliminary best time of 58.22 and has made herself the favorite heading into finals Friday evening. Close behind her, however, was Iowa State’s Eseroghene Okoro, who ran a 58.24 in the preliminary race.

In the 3000-meter steeplechase later in the day, junior Brittany Marches broke the school record by running a 10:31.59. Her time earned her a fourth-place finish and was good enough for the fifth-fastest time nationally in the event. Marches’ strategy of keeping calm and running at a steady pace propelled her to an
impressive performance.

“Keeping my breathing under control is the most important thing for me,” Marches said. “[Coach Stephen Sisson] just told me to relax and catch people, and that’s just what I did.”

Between a few scratches and events in which they didn’t participate, the Longhorns have yet to really showcase what they have in their arsenal. That will change Friday as the women’s 4x100-meter relay kicks off in the morning. 

Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan file photo Senior hurdler Angele Cooper focuses on her footwork during the 85th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Nine of UT’s most developed middle and long distance runners are set on striking gold at the renowned 54th Annual Mt. SAC Relays.

In 1959, Hilmer Lodge founded the Relays with the intent of creating opportunities. In particular, Lodge wanted a meet that offered female athletes equal opportunities as their male counterparts. Over the years, the event has evolved into a unique opportunity to showcase an aspect of track that is too often overlooked.

“[The Mt. SAC Relays] is going to be more of a distance-based meet. It’s rare that you find some of your top middle-distance and distance runners in one place,” head coach Beverly Kearney said. “And the weather in California is really conducive to the distance events.”

With a forecasted temperature of about 80 degrees and clear, sunny skies, the Mt. SAC Relays will commence at 2 p.m. with the university/open women’s 1500-meter. Longhorns Julie Amthor, Connor Ward and Anne Jones are among the 160 competitors scheduled to compete in the first event of the three-day meet.

At last weekend’s Texas Invitational, Amthor had a season-best performance that earned her the top collegiate finish in the 1500-meter. Slicing over eight seconds off her time from Texas Relays, she is gaining momentum as a team leader as well as a major threat to the competition.

Although she ran in the 1500-meter last weekend, Brittany Marches will take on the daunting open 3000-meter steeplechase. The sole athlete representing UT in the event, the redshirt freshman will aim for her second steeplechase win this season.

At 9:15 p.m., senior Laleh Mojtabaeezamani will wrap up the first day of competition with the last women’s event of the night, the Olympic development elite division of the 10,000-meter run. Last weekend, Mojtabaeezamani had a notably improved performance, the fastest collegiate finish in the 3000-meter. However, tonight will be the first time for her to compete in the 10-kilometer this season.

On day two of the Mt. SAC Relays, four more Texas middle and long distance runners will participate in three races (the 800-meter as well as in two divisions of the 5000-meter) in the afternoon and into the late evening.

The Olympic development elite division of the 5000-meter will feature a pair of sophomores who are currently among Texas’ top athletes, Marielle Hall and Sara Sutherland. Hall found success in the event early with a first-place finish at the Texas Relays.

Although Sutherland has yet to compete in the 5-kilometer this outdoor season, she held the fastest Longhorn time in the race last year as a freshman.

The Mt. SAC Relays is tailored to highlight the talents of these Texas runners and is a special occasion for them to take pride in their events. But they must remain focused, as Kearney holds high standards with the postseason quickly closing in.

“[The athletes] going out to California, we’re expecting great performances that will set them up not only for Conference, but for Nationals as well.”

Printed on Thursday, April 19, 2012 as: Mt. SAC Relays upnext for UT