Courtney Okolo

Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

Men's tennis

No. 10 Texas fell just short of taking down No. 1 Oklahoma in the semifinals of the Big 12 Men’s Tennis Championship on Saturday, ultimately losing to the Sooners, 4–3. 

In a nail–biting finish, the score was tied at three wins apiece when Texas sophomore George Goldhoff squared off against Oklahoma sophomore Alex Ghilea in the final match of the day. Goldhoff won the first set of the match handily by a score of 6–2, but Ghilea rebounded to win the second set, 6–3. The third and final set would decide the outcome of the matchup between the Big 12 rivals.

Despite falling behind, 5–6, in the third set, Goldhoff fought off elimination by breaking Ghilea’s serve and tying the match at 6–6 to send it to a third-set tiebreaker. The momentum from Goldhoff’s break did not last, however, and he dropped the tiebreak by a score of 7–3. 

“George has nothing to hang his head about,” head coach Michael Center said after the game. “His level of play continues to go up with every match down the stretch. He just came up a little bit short against a great opponent today. I’m proud of him.”

Saturday’s match featured a high-profile contest between two of Big 12’s premier players at the No. 1 singles line. No. 4 Søren Hess–Olesen took the court for Texas against No. 2 junior Axel Alvarez Llamas. In the most anticipated match of the day, Hess–Olesen fell to Alvarez in straight sets, 6–4, 7–5. The loss drops Hess-Olesen’s record to 18-4 for the year, with all losses coming against Big 12 opponents.  

After being eliminated from Big 12 competition Saturday, Texas will conclude its season at the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship starting May 8. Seeding for the tournament will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

— Michael Shapiro

Track and field

At the oldest track meet in the United States this weekend, the Texas men’s and women’s track teams earned two victories.

Philadelphia’s Penn Relays posed a challenge for head coach Mario Sategna’s Longhorns — one they handled nicely. The women turned in another strong performance after an already-impressive season, winning the women’s 4x400-meter relay and the women’s 100-meter hurdles.

In the 100-meter hurdles, senior Morgan Snow, one of the veterans on the team, picked up the win with a time of 13.13 seconds. The sprinter was less than .3 seconds off her personal-best time of 12.88, but on a cold weekend, her time was plenty to secure the title.

In the heavily anticipated 4x400-meter relay, the women picked up the win with a time of 3:29.46. The group won last year’s event at the Penn Relays and came back in hopes of a repeat, which it accomplished with ease. Second-place University of Technology, Jamaica finished a full two seconds behind the blazing Texas foursome, which was led by junior Courtney Okolo’s 50.04-second anchor leg. This win is the third in five years for the lady Longhorns at the historic meet.

Texas will not have to travel this weekend as it hosts the Longhorn Invitational at the Mike A. Meyers Stadium. The meet will begin Saturday at 12:00 p.m. and last until the last 4x400-meter team crosses the finish line.

— Bradley Maddox

Women's golf

The momentum from recent, late-season improvement did not make a difference for the Texas women’s golf team as it finished in sixth place with a score of 887 (+23) at the Big 12 Championships in San Antonio this weekend.

On The Dominion Country Club golf course, junior Tezira Abe led the Longhorns, tying for 10th place with a three-round score of 220 (+4). Abe’s 10th-place finish was her best finish this season and her score, 220 (+4), tied another personal season best.

After tying for first place at her last tournament, the Ping/ASU Invitational, senior Bertine Strauss struggled to play up to her past success. She posted her worst round of the season with a 77 (+5) while scoring a 222 (+6) overall. While those numbers are atypical for Strauss, her performance was still good for 20th place. 

Two strokes behind Strauss was sophomore Julia Beck, who scored a 224 (+8) for a 22nd-place tie. Two other Longhorns — junior Natalie Karcher and sophomore Anne Hakula — also contributed to the team. Karcher posted a score of 228 (+12) and tied for 28th place, while Hakula put up a score of 229 (+13) and tied for 32nd place.

Baylor easily ran away with the tournament, finishing with a score of 867 (+3) — 12 strokes ahead of second-place TCU.

— Bridget Bonasoro

Women's rowing

Texas’ 12th-ranked women’s rowing team outperformed No. 11 Indiana, Columbia and Notre Dame over two days of racing on Lake Lemon in Bloomington, Indiana, to take home the Dale England Cup on Saturday morning. The Longhorns collected 63 points over the course of the races, enough to earn them first place over Indiana, which finished with 57 points. Notre Dame finished in third with 42 points, while Columbia trailed with 18. 

Texas soundly defeated all of its opponents in Friday’s races, which pitted the Longhorns against Columbia’s varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four teams and Indiana’s first and second varsity four teams in a series of dual races.

Saturday’s races featured a change in the racing format as inclement weather forced officials to abandon the dual races in favor of four-lane races, in which all four teams raced against each other. The schools competed in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four and second varsity four events.

The Longhorns began the day with a second-place finish behind Indiana in the varsity eight race to earn 27 points. The race was the last time Texas finished anything but first at the regatta. The Longhorns beat out Notre Dame in the second varsity eight race for a top finish and 24 points and then completed the day with a pair of wins in the varsity four and second varsity four races to add 12 points to their total.

“Both fours did a great job, and we’re starting to show some good depth on the team,” head coach Dave O’Neill said.  “This is going to be very important as we move forward. It was a good weekend, and I’m pretty happy with the way our team raced.”

— James Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

In the midst of what has already been a solid season, the Texas women’s track and field program produced another strong showing this weekend at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. 

With three meet wins and a multitude of other medals, the Texas women represented the Longhorns with a list of accolades in country’s top track meets.  

Sophomore distance runner Sandie Raines finished second in the open 1500 meters with a time of 4:20.63, beating out many professionals along the way, to start Texas’ day Saturday. Along with Raines, freshmen Caitland Smith and Shania Collins each took home medals as well, finishing second and third, respectively, in the women’s open 200 meters.

But junior Morolake Akinosun turned in the highlight of the Longhorns’ performance over the weekend. Akinosun, who was named the Texas Relays’ most outstanding college performer, was in three of the four first-place events for Texas, with senior Ryan Crouser collecting the other win for Texas.

The first win came down to a close finish in the 4x100-meter race. The team of senior Morgan Snow, senior Ashley Spencer, junior Courtney Okolo, and Akinosun trailed Texas A&M out of lane five throughout the race — until Akinosun got her shot. With the last handoff, Akinosun grabbed the baton and overtook A&M sophomore Aaliyah Brown, achieving victory by less than two tenths of a second.

In the 100 meters, Akinosun took care of business by herself, clocking a blazing 10.94 seconds, albeit with the help of a 5.1m/s wind. 

To close out the Texas Relays, the 4x400-meter relay, now named the Sanya Richards-Ross Invitational 4x400 Meter Relay, also came down to a close finish. Texas A&M got out to a large lead early on, but in the final lap, A&M’s anchor quickly fell off, giving way to the rest of the field. Florida made the early push and Arkansas came close, but Texas freshman Ariel Jones pushed her way to the front of the pack. She edged out the Gators, claiming a victory for Texas. 

The No. 3 women’s team and the rest of the Longhorns now head into next week’s meet at Stanford with strong momentum.

Check out our slideshow from this year's Texas Relays now:

Junior sprinter Morolake Akinoson and the Texas women’s 4x400-meter team are headed to the indoor NCAA Championships hoping to make up for a last-second defeat last year.
Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

On a cloudy day at Mike A. Myers Stadium earlier this week, the Texas women’s 4x400-meter team laughed as they leisurely jogged off the track, sweat drenching their burnt orange warmups. 

Despite their calmness, just a three-hour plane ride separates the nation’s top-4x400-meter team from the stress of the indoor NCAA Championships, the crown jewel of college indoor track and field. 

However, to the sprinters, composed of juniors Morolake Akinosun and Courtney Okolo, sophomore Kendall Baisden and senior Ashley Spencer, it’s just another track meet. 

“When you have some of the best 400-meter talent in the country — if not the world — what’s to be nervous about?” Spencer said. 

The Longhorns have been in this situation before, however, coming out on the losing end. Last year at the women’s championship meet, Texas held a 1.5-point lead over Oregon, and the last race, the 4x400-meter, of the meet held the title.

Coming down to a photo finish, the Ducks edged out the Longhorns by a beak. 

Oregon recorded the fastest 4x400-meter time in collegiate history; Texas recorded the second-fastest. But the Longhorns’ loss, coming at two-tenths of a second, propelled Oregon past Texas, giving them the women’s title by half a point. 

“[We have] so much fire and energy from what happened [last year],” Akinosun said. “We’re ready to use that and go out and compete this weekend. Sure, on paper, we’re ranked first in our event and fifth in the country, but you don’t run the race on paper”.

Okolo, a Bowerman hopeful, believes their experience last year and in other indoor meets this season will only help the team this year. 

“We were really close last year, but, this year, we’re more experienced,” Okolo said. “We’ve been on the national stage together, so now we know what it takes.”  

This is the first full season Akinosun, Okolo, Baison and Spencer have been together on the 4x400-meter team at the national level. Although the group ran together last season, Akinosun didn’t compete in the championship meet. 

“We know each other, and we want to win this with each other and for each other,” Okolo said. 

The strong chemistry between the foursome has only helped their success. 

They even keep up each other’s superstitions. Akinosun has had two batons since her senior year of high school that she has never let touch the ground. 

“There are a lot of times when you’re a head coach, and you stand back in awe,” head coach Mario Sategna said. “These girls provide one of those times. They push each other to the max, and it’s fun to watch.”

Texas’ Courtney Okolo won the 400-meter final Friday at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Okolo is one of just three women to win the 400-meter title as a Longhorn.
“It feels really good. I’ve been dreaming about this all year,” Okolo said. “To know that it’s finally here, it feels so amazing.”
Also competing in the 400-meter event, freshman Kendall Baisden finished third, and senior Briana Nelson crossed the line in fourth. Baisden, Nelson and Okolo will run in the 4x400-meter relay Saturday.
In the overall team standings, the Texas women are in a tie for third place with 29 points. The Longhorn men are in fifth place with 19.5 points.

The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship wraps up Saturday.

When Texas meets Baylor this weekend, Sophomore runner Zack Bilderback is expected to perform well in the 200-meter event. 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns will travel to Waco on Saturday for the Michael Johnson Dr Pepper Classic, searching for their first bit of consistency this season. 

Coming off a successful performance on both the men’s and women’s sides last weekend at the Texas Invitational, athletes will start to getmore repetition at Baylor.

“We’re going to start doubling, tripling up each meet,” head coach Mario Sategna said. “You just kind of progress it along. You don’t want to do too much because it’s still very early in the outdoor season, and you’ve got to be healthy all the way through the middle part of June if you go to the national meet, so you can’t ever afford any setbacks.”

Some runners to watch on the men’s side are freshman Senoj-Jay Givans in the 100-meter and sophomore Zack Bilderback in the 200-meter. Both sprinters received blazing marks last Saturday, but they were discounted because of wind.

The No. 3 women will compete this weekend with the hopes of further asserting their dominance over Big 12 rival No. 19 Baylor, whom the Longhorns scorched with seven first place finishes at last weekend’s Texas Invitational.

Sophomore sprinter Courtney Okolo, who was named Big 12 Track and Field Female Athlete of the Week on Wednesday, will try to build upon her performance last weekend in which she finished with the top 400-meter time in the nation. If she performs well, Okolo could qualify in the 200-meter for the NCAA West Regional Meet.

At this point in the season, Sategna wants to ensure that top athletes such as Okolo are making the adjustments necessary to consistently achieve the top times.

“We can still fine-tune and look down the road to regionals and nationals,” Sategna said. “When you see consistent high marks, that is when you know teams have really broke through.”

At the Texas Invitational, sophomore pole vaulter Reese Watson became the eighth Longhorn ever to top 18 feet. 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hogged the podium at the weekend’s Texas Invitational in Austin, with the women winning seven events and the men emerging victorious in five. 

Led by sophomore sprinter Courtney Okolo, the Longhorn women dominated team competition. Okolo took charge with a national-best time of 51.36 seconds in her 400-meters season debut.

“I was just trying to run a fast time, so I could not have to worry about if my time would make it into regionals,” Okolo said. “I was just happy that it was fast.”

Representing the women’s basketball team, track newcomer Nekia Jones transitioned from playing forward on the court to making her throwing debut on the field. The dual-sport freshman and former Texas high school discus and shot put runner-up finished in third
but wasn’t satisfied.

“For my first meet, I felt pretty good, [but] I know I can do better,” Jones said. “I’ve just been patient and let it come to me.” 

The men won five events and scored 184 points in their team victory. Sophomore pole vaulter Reese Watson led the team, as he set a personal record with a mark of 18 feet, .5 inches. His jump makes him the eighth Longhorn ever to break 18 feet in an outdoor meet.

After scratching on his first two attempts at 17 feet, 1 inch, Watson faced elimination before he could even get started.  

“I’m usually pretty good at keeping it together on my third attempt,” Watson said. “So, I just started feeding off the crowd and was able to come out with a third attempt make. Pretty much, after you get your first bar over with, you can pretty much relax a little bit and start jumping.”

The Longhorns compete in Baylor’s Michael Johnson Classic Saturday in Waco.

Entering the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships ranked fifth in the nation, the Longhorn women knew capturing the top spot would take an extraordinary team effort.

At the 4x400-meter relay, the final event of the weekend, the Longhorns hold a once-improbable title within reach. Texas already held the national-record time in the event. All it needed was a victory to best No. 1 Georgia to claim the national championship.

Senior sprinter Briana Nelson, sophomore sprinter Courtney Okolo, freshman sprinter Kendall Baisden and junior sprinter Ashley Spencer ran the event in an NCAA-record time of 3:27.42, but the Oregon Ducks stole the national title with a .02-second advantage at 3:27.40.

“The goal was to come away with a team trophy,” head coach Mario Sategna said in a statement. “But to be second and to get the program on track a little bit is a step in the right direction.”

En route to Texas’ second-place performance, sophomore pole-vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose recorded a collegiate indoor record vault of 15 feet, 1 inch. Senior jumper Shanay Briscoe followed with fifth place in the high jump, clearing 6.5 feet for her fifth First Team All-American honor.

In the 400-meter finals, three Texas runners placed in the same event for just the second time in team history: Spencer (2), Okolo (4) and Baisden (5).

Entering at No. 25, the Longhorn men finished the meet 20th with a team score of 11 points.

Sophomore shot-putter Ryan Crouser, who won the event with a throw of 69 feet, 7 inches, grabbed 10 of those points as he eclipsed the next-best mark by nearly 4 feet. Each of Crouser’s five legal throws landed far enough to win the individual title.

“That was the best series by far that I’ve ever had,” Crouser said in a statement. “Across the board, this was the best meet I’ve ever had.”

Sophomore sprinter Zack Bilderback contributed Texas’ remaining point and earned his first All-American honor with an eighth place finish in the 400 meters with a time of 47.63 seconds.

The outdoor season begins Saturday.

Members of both the women’s and men’s track and field teams competed in the 2013 USA Outdoor Championships last week with athletes participating in championship finals. 

On the women’s side, sophomore Courtney Okolo beat her career best in the 400 meters to win the junior title. She secured herself a spot on the 2013 Pan American Junior Athletic Championship team competing in Columbia Aug. 23-25.

Senior Shanay Briscoe made it to the event finals in the high jump, finishing 10th. Sophomore Melissa Gonzalez finished fifth in the 400 meter hurdles in the junior division.

Competing in Jamaica at the Jamaica National Senior Championships, senior Danielle Dowie placed second in the 400 meter hurdles with a career best time and earned a spot on the Jamaican team for the IAAF World Championship in Athletics which will be held Aug. 10-18 in Moscow.

In the men’s decathlon at the outdoor championships, sophomore Ryan Crouser had high hopes for a big finish after winning both the Big 12 Outdoor and NCAA shot put titles in May. Crouser instead finished seventh in the event, while 2013 world leader and 2012 world champion Ryan Whiting took first.

Incoming freshman Wolf Mahler captured the decathlon title in the junior division and will join the program in the fall.

The home turf advantage in Saturday’s Texas Invitational served the Longhorns well as they were able to pick up four victories along with 12 top-five finishes and nine personal-best marks.

Of those personal-bests came freshman Courtney Okolo’s performance in the 400 meter event. Okolo’s time of 52.52 seconds not only earned her the victory but also set the fourth-fastest time in the nation for the event.

“I felt good and it is a big improvement from last week,” Okolo said. “Winning gives me a confident boost, but there is still a lot left in the season.”

Junior Christy Udoh did not run her signature event, the 200 meter dash, yet still walked away with a victory in the 100 meter, outrunning the rest of the field by .4 seconds and clocking an 11.63.

The same winning efforts came from senior Mia Behm in the 1,500 meter run, who finished in 4:27.45, and senior Kendra Chambers in the 800 meter, who clocked a 2:06.73. Chambers was the leader of a 1-2-3 finish for the Longhorns in the event, with fellow teammates Katie Hoaldridge (2:06.81) and Sara Sutherland (2:10.67) finishing close behind.

The meet culminated with Sophomore Megan Siebert’s personal-best effort in the 3,000m. The long distance runner snatched a fourth-place finish in the event and crossed the line at 10:06.36.

Victories and personal bests highlighted the weekend in both Arkansas and Washington for the No. 14 Longhorns.

A win in the 4x400-meter relay closed out the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. as the foursome of Danielle Dowie, Briana Nelson, Kendra Chambers and Courtney Okolo clocked a 3:30.95, the fifth fastest time in school history.

Junior long jumper A’Lexus Brannon also turned heads at the Tyson Invitational by winning the long jump with a mark of 6.23 meters, 0.16 meters ahead of second place Tamara Myers from Arkansas.

In Seattle, Wash. three Longhorns registered new personal bests in their respective events Saturday. 

Redshirt freshman Connor Ward finished 12th in the mile with a time of 4:58.45, the first sub-5:00 mark of her Longhorn career in the event. Junior Brittany Marches and sophomore Jessica Harper also posted new personal records in the collegiate 3,000-meter, with Marches finishing 9:49.94 for 23rd and Ward clocking in at 10:06.80 for 38th. Mara Olson of Butler won the event with a time of 9:29:05.

The Longhorns have two weeks to prepare for the Big 12 Indoor Championships Feb. 22-23.