Kaitlin Petrillose

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns are preparing for their second home meet of the outdoor season on Saturday at the Texas Invitational. The one-day home meet will feature teams from all over the state.

The Texas men will try to build off a successful Stanford Invitational meet last weekend, a performance that led to the team’s jump from 18th to 16th in the outdoor national ranking. 

The men will look to the field events to help them score points this Saturday.  

“Our success on the men’s side is definitely not going to just be with the sprints and the distance, but a lot is going to come from the field events — especially the discus, the javelin and the hammer throw,” Sategna said. “They’ve shown some great things the last couple weeks in practice. Now they’ve got to do it in a meet.”

The No. 3 women’s elite stable of sprinters and field competitors will also return to competition this weekend.

“On the women’s side we’ve got two of the very best relays there in the 4x[100-meters] and the 4x[400-meters],” Sategna said. “We are still putting our attack together in some of those individual events, and so we will kind of touch on those this weekend.”

Junior pole-vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose has been a regular first place finisher for the Longhorns’ individual performers. The last home meet saw Petrillose fall millimeters short of an NCAA record.

Marielle Hall, senior distance runner and U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Female Athlete of the Week, has helped Petrillose carry the individual events burden recently. Hall hopes to build off a strong performance last weekend at the Stanford Invitational and impress the home crowd.

“It’s my senior year, so I’m always excited to have a meet on this track,” Hall said. “There’s going to be some great competition this weekend.”

After a couple season opening meets to get the wheels turning, head coach Mario Sategna is already looking forward to the postseason.  

“Now we can start to look to the conference meet once again,” Sategna said.  

Sategna must choose 32 men and 32 women to compete in the conference meet, with the hopes of advancing them to the regional and NCAA Championships.

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.”

Women's Track and Field

Behind strong individual and relay performances, the No. 13 Longhorns finished second at the Big 12 Indoor Championships in Ames, Iowa this weekend.

Texas claimed victory in the medley relay Saturday as All-Americans Sara Sutherland, Briana Nelson, Kendra Chambers and Marielle Hall clocked in at 11:15.90, the second fastest time in school history. Sophomore Kaitlin Petrillose also impressed on the first day of competition, as she became the first Longhorn to ever win the pole vault title at the indoor conference meet. By clearing 4.33 meters, Petrillose was able to beat her own personal mark and also eclipse the school record.

“It’s exciting to make a mark on the record books at a place like Texas, especially when it really counts at the conference meet,” Petrillose said. 

On Sunday the Longhorn’s 4X400 meter relay team took home a Big 12 title finishing with a time of 3:33.54. It was the team’s first win in the event at the conference meet since 2005. Another championship performance included junior Shanay Briscoe’s victory in the high jump with a clear of 5-9.25 (1.76m).

The Longhorns were able to score in 17 of 19 events and finished with a total of 148 points, just shy of team winner Kansas with 150.5 points.

In total, Texas earned 30 All-Big 12 honors in 17 scored events on the weekend. Senior Kendra Chambers, junior Briana Nelson and freshman Courtney Okolo led the way for the Longhorns with three each, while junior A’Lexus Brannon, senior Mia Behm, junior Shanay Briscoe, junior Danielle Dowie, senior Chalonda Goodman, junior Marielle Hall, senior Alicia Peterson and junior Christy Udoh picked up two apiece. 

The Longhorns will compete in the Last Chance Meets Friday and Saturday before the NCAA Indoor Championships take place March 8-9.

Making the leap to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Razorback Team Invitational this weekend, sophomore Kaitlin Petrillose aims for her third straight pole vault victory. A well-rounded athlete in gymnast-meets-track-star form, Petrillose holds a school record and reached fifth place in the nation this month. Twenty-three teammates will join Petrillose to represent No. 13 Texas.

“I have the best training partner in Natasha,” Petrillose said of senior teammate Natasha Masterson, who will compete alongside her this weekend. “We really push each other’s limits and it helps my preparation and competition all the time.”

Also looking to push limits are All-American cross country competitor Marielle Hall, who runs the 3,000-meter, the 60-meter hurdle expert Morgan Snow and 400-meter dash foes Courtney Okolo and Danielle Dowie. Each of the four rank in the top 10 nationally in their respective events.

Facing opponents Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the squad will also battle ranked competitors including No. 5 Arkansas, No. 6 LSU and No. 7 Florida.

Friday’s events begin at 6 p.m. and conclude with the high jump at 8 p.m. The tournament resumes at 12:15 p.m. Saturday for the 3,000-meter race and concludes with the 4x400-meter relay at 4:45 p.m.