Danielle Dowie

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

The 87th annual Texas Relays will certainly go down as one of the most memorable of all time, as competitors set 15 records during the four-day meet.

One such record was set by sophomore throwing sensation Ryan Crouser, who picked up right where he left off in his national championship-winning indoor season. Crouser improved the school record he already owned in the shot put with a toss of 69 feet, 9.5 inches. The mark also hit a Texas Relays record. 

Crouser threw a personal best Saturday, this time in the discus. His throw of 199 feet, 4 inches, won him fifth place in a deep field.

Relatively unknown freshman hurdler Spencer Dunkerley-Offor enjoyed a successful meet also, finishing fifth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.90. Senior distance runner John McNamara finished seventh place in the mile with a time of 4:08.95.

The women responded enthusiastically to their first challenge of the season. The team captured four first-place finishes en route to winning the meet’s “Most Outstanding University/College Team” award.

Senior hurdler Danielle Dowie fed off the energy of the home crowd Friday to finish first in the 400-meter hurdles. Her time of 57.52 edged LSU’s Nikita Tracy by a mere 0.01 seconds, but Dowie did not appear phased by the close call.

“The last part wasn’t pretty, but winning doesn’t always have to be pretty,” Dowie said. “It was just a matter of getting back into a competitive mode.”

In what is becoming routine, sophomore pole vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose won first place in her event Friday night. Petrillose broke her own school record by clearing the bar of 4.5 meters. After securing first place, she set the bar to an NCAA record height of 4.62 meters. Petrillose’s third attempt at history saw her torso cross the mark, but a collective moan from the crowd accompanied the sophomore’s descent after her toes just brushed the bar off its mounts. 

As temperatures rose Saturday, so did the Longhorns’ fever. Grabbing wins in the 4x200-meter relay, the 100-meters and the 1500-meters, Texas was not bothered by the weather.

“It feels good,” said junior sprinter Ashley Spencer, who helped propel Texas to second in the 4x100 and first place in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays. “The key to victory today was chemistry, trusting our teammates and just to run fast and have fun.”

The 4x400 relay — Texas’ specialty event — came just at meet’s close. The Longhorns jostled with Florida until the third leg when freshman sprinter Kendall Baisden pulled away from the pack.

“She’s a tough competitor,” Spencer said. “I can expect hard work from [Baisden] every single time.”

Baisden’s final burst allowed Spencer to carry the baton across the line and end Texas Relays with a win.

“It means a lot.” Spencer said. “This is our track, this is where we practice, this is where we put the hard work in.”

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.

Women's track sends 12 athletes in 10 events to NCAAs

Texas women’s track and field will have 12 entries in 10 events for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships being held June 5 through 8 in Eugene, Ore.

“I really feel like we’re peaking at the right time,” interim head coach Rose Brimmer said. “All season long I’ve been telling the girls that we have to be patient. You want to get better and better every meet and this meet just proves that we’re right on time.”

The Longhorns will be represented in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 5,000 meters, 100 meter hurdles, 400 meter hurdles, the high jump, pole vault and both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

The 4x100 relay includes senior Chalonda Goodman, junior Briana Nelson, sophomore Morgan Snow and junior Danielle Dowie.

Goodman qualified for both the 100 and 200 meters, making her one of two runners to qualify in three events alongside Nelson. Nelson will run in the 400 meters and the other relay. Snow advanced in the 100 meter hurdles, while Dowie will compete in the 400 meter hurdles.

The 4x400 relay will feature Nelson, Dowie, freshman Courtney Okolo and senior Kendra Chambers. The group ran the second fastest time at the qualifying meet.

Junior Shanay Briscoe advanced in the high jump, the event she came in fourth in at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials last year. Sophomore Kaitlin Petrillose and senior Natasha Masterson tied for seventh place and qualified in the pole vaulting event and senior distance runner Mia Behm qualified for the 5,000 meter event.

The No. 6 Longhorns were able to string together a few top-three finishes this past Friday and Saturday at the 69th annual Florida Relays.

After dominating the 400-meter hurdles event the previous week, junior Danielle Dowie slowed down a bit in Friday’s race. Dowie clocked a 56.95 in the event and crossed the line in third place.

The highlight of the meet came through sophomore Kaitlin Petrillose’s performance in the pole vault. Petrillose was able to clear 4.10 meters and finish tied for second with South Carolina’s Petra Olsen. Both women fell just short of winner Lacy Janson, who cleared 4.30 and 4.50 meters. 

On Saturday, the women’s 4X400-meter relay team pulled off yet another memorable showcase. The squad recorded the 10th fastest time in school history for the event as they finished with a time of 3:27.97, only .54 seconds behind second-place Florida. For Texas, it was a bitter defeat considering Florida is also the only team with a better collegiate time overall in the event this season. 

Although the meet was not scored, it gave the women’s team good practice heading into this weekend, when the Longhorns will host the Texas Invitational on Saturday.

Women's Track and Field

The No. 6 Longhorns will ride into this weekend’s relays on the back of junior Danielle Dowie, who dominated her 400-meter hurdles event at the Texas Relays last week. Her 56.58 mark in the event ranks as the best time in the nation this season and was good enough to earn her the Big 12 female track and field athlete of the week. 

In the 2012 Florida Relays, Texas recorded top-five finishes in eight events. With every competitor in those respective events returning for this year’s meet, the odds of Texas fairing well are more than assuring.

On that list of returning competitors is junior high-jumper Shanay Briscoe. Briscoe seems to be in a zone of her own this year, having a combined six top-five high jump finishes in both the outdoor and indoors seasons. In 2012, Briscoe finished third in the high jump at the Florida Relays, a mark she can make even better this time around.

This will be the Longhorns’s only away meet before the Texas Invitational on April 13 in Austin.

The curtain closed on the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on Saturday. 

The meet, which brought together hundreds of qualified athletes from all stages of their careers, from Olympians such as Trey Hardee and Darvis Patton to high school athletes getting their first taste of real competition, came and left almost as fast as the athletes running their hearts out on the track.

Six victories were added to the men’s team already lengthy resume once all was said and done. The long distance team was especially dominant on their home turf, accounting for four of the six victories the Longhorns brought home.

The talk of Thursday’s day of action was an event new to the Texas Relays — the 10,000-meter run. The Longhorns, who held the top five finishes in the event, ruled the first running of the event. The field was led by junior Ryan Dohner (29:34.34), who now holds the top time in the nation this season. He was followed by Craig Lutz(29:39.22), Daniel Vertiz (29:55.62), Rory Tunningley (30:07.35) and Mark Pinales (30:08.09).

“The guys did really good this year,” Dohner said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had that many guys so close to each other in terms of fitness.”

The distance runners’ dominance didn’t stop there, as the rest of the long distance runners stepped in and earned wins in the distance medley relay, the 4x1,500-meter relay and the 4x800-meter relay.

Sophomore Ryan Crouser’s 67-and-a-half-foot (20.43 m) throw in the shot put easily beat the competition and had Texas record writers scrambling, as it now stands fifth in the all-time performance list. The win was especially important as it was his first real action since a long injury layoff.

“I’ve had this day marked on my calendar for a long time.” Crouser said, “Your first meet [back from injury] can really decide a lot for how the season goes.”

The final win for the men’s team came from senior Jarard Bruner in section B of the triple jump.

After a fairly uneventful first two days at the relays, the women’s team exploded out of the gates Friday and Saturday.

A hot start by the 4x100-meter relay team Friday morning in the preliminaries began a solid last two days for the Longhorns. The quartet of juniors Christy Udoh, Chalonda Goodman and Danielle Dowie along with sophomore Morgan Snow ended up snatching a second-place finish in the finals Saturday with a time of 43.59. 

The squad only fell short to Texas A&M, which tied its own Texas Relays record with a 42.56 mark.

Star performances of the meet came from incredible showings in both the 400-meter hurdles and the 4x200-meter dash.

Domination defined the performance Danielle Dowie had in the 4X100-meter hurdles on Friday. The three-time All-America rounded the track fiercely ahead of her competition and earned herself the first-place finish. With a time of 56.58 seconds, Dowie’s mark now ranks as the nation’s top time in the event.

“From my freshman year I made up in my mind that I was going to win my junior year,” said Dowie. “I’m really happy with what I did.”

On Saturday, the 4x200-meter team also beat out their field and were able to clock a 1:32.37 and edge out second-place Texas A&M by .25 seconds. With an elite 200-meter runner in Udoh, along with three other solid sprinters in Goodman, Courtney Okolo and Kiersten Duncan, the group has was it takes to keep the victories rolling this outdoor season.

Overall, the women qualified for the finals in every relay competition during this year’s Texas Relays and placed among the top three in each event.

With the end of another memorable Texas Relays, Austin will now set its sights on hosting the Texas Invitational on April 13. Until then, the men’s team will head to Tuscon, Ariz., this weekend to compete in the Jim Click Shootout while the women will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the Florida Relays.

Traveling to Birmingham for Saturday’s Crimson Tide Indoor Opener, Women’s Track & Field, ranked at No. 14, had to face 11 top teams before finishing with multiple wins.

Top finishes include sophomore Morgan Snow’s 8.26 second 60-meter hurdle, and junior Danielle Dowie’s 200-meter 23.75 and 400-meter 53.95. Dowie also joined senior Kendra Chambers, junior Briana Nelson and freshman Courtney Okolo to score a 3:38.22 victory in the 4x400-meter relay over No. 5 Florida.

“Coming into such a competitive meet and facing the defending national champions to start the season, we won a couple of big events and that was excellent,” interim head coach Rose Brimmer said. “I thought the team exceeded expectations.”

Brimmer also noted how well-rounded the performance was. With senior Mia Behm leading the mile at 4:50.23, teammates Marielle Hall and Megan Siebert claimed first and second in the 3,000 meter at 9:26.49 and 9:51.25 respectively. Field domination ranged from a second-place Kaitlin Petrillose pole vault (12-11.5) to Shanay Briscoe’s fifth-place high jump (5-10.75) and A’Lexus Brannon’s top-six long jump finish (19-3.25).

The Longhorns travel to Houston on Friday for their next meet.

For the second day in a row, the Longhorn women were led by individual performances at the Texas Relays on Thursday. Texas was led by junior Angele Cooper and freshman Danielle Dowie in the 400-meter hurdles.

Cooper finished in second place with 57.03 seconds, Dowie in third with 57.45 seconds. Both of their times qualified them for the event final.

In all, 55 women participated in the preliminary 400-meter hurdles.

Three other Longhorns competed and all three earned personal bests. Natasha Masterson also participated in the 400-meter hurdles and walked away with a personal best time of 1:02.43.

Sophomore Akua Sencherey and junior Okwukwe Okolie competed in the hammer throw and took 15th and 16th, respectively. Sencherey threw a personal-best 46.58 meters and Okolie 45.5 meters.

The hammer throw was won by UTEP’s Terran Alexander with 60.88 meters.

“Because I’m from Texas, this is what you work for basically, besides conference and nationals,” she said. “This meet is known for greatness, and I feel like I fit in the category now.”

Chelsea Carrier from West Virginia posted the leading collegiate and American mark of the 2011 Outdoor season in the Women’s Heptathlon. Carrier earned a 6.22 meter mark in the Long Jump Women’s Heptathlon event at her first Texas Relays.

“It feels really good. It’s my first year competing here,” Carrier said. “I’m very happy. I set PRs in a lot of events this weekend.”

In the first relay event of the week, a team from Louisiana State University took first in the 4-by-800-meter relay. The LSU team finished in 8:39.19, followed by Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Friday marks the third day of the relays and one of the most exciting — between high school and university, more then 100 events will take place. High school students will start competing at 1:30 p.m.

For the University of Texas women, the action will start with the 4-by-100-meter relay at 9:30 a.m. 

Starting college always means new experiences ­— new classes, new home, new friends. For the freshmen Longhorns, however, they knew they already had a support system and group of friends when they started at Texas.

Six of the seven new athletes — A’Lexus Brannon, Shanay Briscoe, Marielle Hall, Briana Nelson, Allison Peter and Danielle Dowie — met previously while competing in the 2009 IAAF World Youth Games in Italy.

Brannon, Briscoe, Hall and Nelson all represented the United States. Dowie represented Jamaica and Peter the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“I think it was the best international trip I’ve been on; everyone just meshed really well,” Briscoe said. “Whenever we came in, I knew everybody. I was excited because I knew when I came here, I knew I was going to already have friends.”

Brannon placed eighth at the World Games in the long jump, Briscoe placed eighth in the high jump, Nelson finished fourth in the 200-meter, and Dowie took home a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles.

“Making the world youth and world junior team was a big deal,” Nelson said. “It was hard to make. It was a really great experience. It was really good because I knew everyone before I got here.”

Now, the freshmen are already contributors to the 18th-ranked Longhorns, who last competed in Houston and Fayetteville, Ark., on Jan. 28. Briscoe placed third in the high jump with a season-best clearance of 1.8-meters in Fayetteville for the Razorback Invitational.

Nelson also posted a season best of 24.13 seconds in the 200-meter race, placing 12th, and also placed fourth in the 400-meter.

Brannon finished 13th in the long jump, and Hall finished 11th in the 800-meter with a time of 2 minutes and 11.36 seconds.

Although having so many young contributors could be considered an issue for the team, members feel that it will actually provide an advantage.

“Everyone is looking to us to see what we are going to do next, and it’s definitely a motivator,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe and Nelson both said competing at a level like the world games prepared them for competition at the collegiate level. Still, it helps to know there are six other women who understand what they are going through. Many of the athletes live together in the dorms and spend much of their time together.

“They are pretty much like my sisters,” Briscoe said. “They are the ones I find myself clinging towards. We are all really close, and we have each others backs no matter what.”