Keiron Stewart

A pair of season-best efforts by seniors Hayden Baillio and Keiron Stewart highlighted a solid performance by the Longhorn track team in the Armory Collegiate Invitational in New York.

Baillio has been on fire throwing the shot put. The senior is now three-for-three with first-place finishes in the event this season and has been showing off his All-American pedigree. He posted a throw of 63 feet, seven and three-quarter inches, beating out all other competitors by more than eight inches.

Stewart clocked in at 7.73 in the 60-meter hurdles event for a second-place finish, but was outmatched by Clemson’s Spencer Adams, who blew away the competition with a time of 7.59 in the event.

Senior Jarad Bruner regressed from previous performances, but managed to finish sixth in the triple jump with a clearance of 48-0 and three-quarters. Emerson Sanders tied his season-best leap of 23-3 and one-quarter in the long jump, but finished tied for fourth.

Most of the Longhorns will compete again Friday and Saturday at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. Middle and long distance runners, meanwhile, will head to Seattle for the Husky Classic. The events will be the last chance for the athletes to tune up before the Big 12 Indoor Championships held Feb. 22-23 in Iowa.

Men's Track & Field

Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff Keiron Stewart, left, competes in the 110-meter hurdles on Saturday at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. Stewart was third in the event.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

On Friday morning, the array of high school and collegiate athletes that decorated the field of Mike A. Myers Stadium all had one thing in common: nerves.

On the last day before Saturday’s finals, efforts were consolidated into one opportunity that would ultimately determine their chance at qualification.

“Well, anytime you’re at a venue and it has the title of the Texas Relays, it takes you up another level,” said head coach Bubba Thornton. “I thought we ran really well in-between. We got a little anxious. We had some anxieties. But we can run with these other teams, and we’ve just got to continue to improve on our confidence and not think during the race.”

Texas’ 4x100 relay team realized what was at stake and stepped on the track to execute. Mark Jackson, Marquise Goodwin, Emerson Sanders and Trevante Rhodes surged ahead as top finishers in heat one of five in the event. Their time of 40.01 ranked them in fourth overall to qualify for Saturday’s finals.

Teammate Keiron Stewart kept the intensity alive with his race in the 110-meter hurdles. Quick-footed Stewart was neck and neck with Texas Tech junior Shane Brathwaite as the two leaned into the finish line. The two tied at 13.75.

“It felt great seeing the crowd when I was at the starting blocks and there were some kids chanting, ‘Texas, Fight,’” Stewart said. “It kind of showed that we are role models and we have to do our best each time.”

Despite solid performances by the Longhorns in the first two 100-meter events, the 100-meter dash didn’t follow the same trend. Goodwin, Rhodes and Sanders did not qualify. Rhodes finished with the best time of the three in 10.56. Texas A&M sophomore Prezel Hardy Jr. took first overall with a 10.18. Nine runners will be making a finals berth, with A&M’s Michael Bryan taking the last seed with a 10.41.

In the 4x400-meter relay, BYU held an explosive lead for the entire race and came in with the top qualifying time of 3:08.32. Kansas and Stephen F. Austin ran side-by-side going into the finish and claimed second and third respectively.

Both Longhorn distance relays were able to reach qualifying marks to close out Friday’s portion of the collegiate running events. Texas’ 1600-meter sprint medley relay featuring Alex Williams, Rhodes, Dereck Dreyer and Kyle Thompson came in sixth with a time of 3:20.86. Baylor claimed the first place spot with a time of 3:17.47. The 4x1500 relay group of Kevin Rayes, C.J. Jessett, Ryan Dohner and Patrick McGregor teamed together for a third place finish with a time of 15:41.45.

Jackson came in fifth in section A of the men’s triple jump. His final leap of 15.56 meters put him just 0.2 meters shy of fourth place. Senior Kyron Blaise of LSU won the event with a jump of 16.32.

Men's Track and Field

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Although the Longhorns and the Bruins each had nine event wins, Texas was unable to hold onto their edge as they fell to UCLA in the outdoor season opener 85-77 on Saturday.

Despite an unpredicted loss, Texas’ performance showed the team’s potential.

And it appeared the men chose 100 meters to be their 2012 starting point of demolition. The 4x100 relay squad featuring Alex Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Keiron Stewart and Trevante Rhodes sprinted out a meet record winning time of 39.61. Teammates Mark Jackson, Aaron Scott, Emerson Sanders and Isaac Murphy clocked the third best time of 39.83.

Texas swept the 100-meter dash, as “Flash” Goodwin put the heat on with a winning time of 10.58. He was followed by Sanders in second, Rhodes in third, Scott in fifth and Williams in sixth.

The 4x400 relay group, featuring Kyle Thompson, Josh Brudnick, Stewart and Dereck Dryer continued the trend with a top finish of 3:14.60.

Dreyer and Stewart took second and third in the 400-meter dash, while Scott had a third place finish and time of 21.64 in the 200-meter.

Distance runners followed suit with a string of consistent performances. Sophomore Austin Roth controlled the pack of the 3000-meter steeplechase, clocking in a leading time of 8:57.00 to win. Teammate Collin Smith came in third. Brock Simmons debuted in the 5000-meter run and finished third overall with a 14:24.10.

The Longhorns also clenched the top two spots in the 1500 meter with C.J. Jessett (3:50.76) in first and Patrick McGregor (3:51.03) in second.

Thompson’s time of 1:50.11 ousted UCLA’s redshirt freshman Sam DeMello for the win in the 800-meter run.

Texas’ group of multi-event specialists were able to work their talent among a variety of events. Petter Olson won the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 14.54 and threw for a fourth place mark in the javelin. Murphy was close behind in the hurdles at 14.68 and seventh in the discus. Kenny Greaves was able to see action for the first time this year, placing fifth in both the javelin and 110-meter hurdles.

The Longhorns’ fielders matched their usual powerhouse performances, starting with Jackson’s winning mark of 24-1.50 in the long jump. Sanders finished in third.

The highly touted Jacob Thormaehlen led the Texas throwers with his launch of 64-05.75 in the shot put. He also took second in the hammer throw with a toss of 185-2 and came in fifth in discus.

Will Spence added third place finishes in the shot put and discus, while Blake Jakobsson took fourth in discus.

Sophomore vaulter Mark Thomas cleared 16-04.75 to place second behind UCLA’s Mike Woepse.

Texas doesn’t see the loss as a shortcoming, but more so as the extra motivation needed to fine-tune and refocus for next weekend’s Texas Relays. 

Printed on Monday, March 26, 2012 as: Potential displayed amid loss to UCLA

Men's Track and Field

Junior hurdler Keiron Stewart aims to lead the Longhorns to a Big 12 Championship this weekend.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Meet days are filled with strict routines and preparations during the final moments leading up to the events. Junior hurdler Keiron Stewart’s to-do list is a few items shorter than most competitors.

“I never get a pre-meet massage during warm-ups like everyone else on the team,” Stewart said. “And I don’t have to worry about putting on socks before I lace up my spikes.”

Most athletes wouldn’t even consider the thought of competing in their first event without a massage or forgetting to put on their socks. But for Stewart, these are two rituals he doesn’t follow.

During his junior year of high school at Kingston College in Kingston, Jamaica, Stewart allowed one of the trainers to give him a rub down to loosen up his muscles before the races began. The Jamaica native was a little hesitant to suddenly alter his pre-meet routine, but for reasons he still isn’t sure of — he gave in and got a massage.

“The first time I let a trainer give me a rub down during warm ups was my last”, he said with a smirk. “I lost my race that day so needless to say, I will never do that again.”

And he won’t likely forget to take off his socks before putting on his racing spikes. This superstitious act is one he inherited from one of his fellow teammates in high school.

As a new member to the track team, the logistics and insider tricks of the sport were unfamiliar to Stewart at that time.

“I’ll never forget the day one of my buddies was talking to me at practice,” Stewart said. “He simply pulled me aside and suggested that I not wear any socks at the next meet, assuring me that I would be able to run a lot faster.”

The upcoming meet was the annual Gibson Relays held at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. Once again a sense of hesitancy crept up, but Stewart pushed it aside and decided to give it a try. He even convinced the members of his 4x400 relay team to jump on the bandwagon and run sockless.

“That day, we ran like we never had before”, Stewart said. “We broke the previous Gibson relay record, and set a new one when we crossed the finish line at 3:09.22.”

It was a dream come true for the emerging track star, and looking back, it seems all a result of one single spontaneous decision he made as a 14-year-old freshman.

To the untrained eye, Stewart looks as if he’s been a track star for most of his life — with his natural speed and graceful hurdling technique. But actually, his track career began almost by accident.

“I was about 14 years old when I decided to represent my class in a benefit my school was having,” Stewart said. “It was an open track meet and for some reason, I felt as if I should run in it. The race was very different from the ones here in the U.S. The track was all grass; the lanes were marked with something that looked like black grease, and one lap around was equal to only 300 meters.”

He clocked in a winning time at around 47 seconds, immediately turning the heads of every track coach present.

After taking notice, the coaches made a beeline to Stewart and asked him to join the team. Undoubtedly, his acceptance of the offer was life-changing from that moment on. But the birth of a new talent meant letting go of another.

His first sport was cricket, and Stewart was one of the best batters of his age. At cricket, he was a natural, but track took an unfamiliar level of effort and hard work. After trying to balance the two and compete in both, Stewart let go of cricket and decided to set his focus on becoming a stronger runner.

“I couldn’t take the hits anymore”, Stewart said. “I was constantly getting hurt by the throws, and my teammates had gotten a lot bigger than before.”

And it turns out his 5-foot-11-inch agile frame was perfect for leaping over hurdles. Stewart grew tired of running sprints apart from all his friends during practice, so he volunteered to give hurdling a try. Eventually, he worked out the kinks and now holds the Jamaican national junior record in the 110-meter hurdles.

But the aggressive yet humble competitor is still awestruck when he thinks of the journey that led him to Texas. After a strong season as a freshman, Stewart won the Big 12 Indoor Championship title in the 60-meter hurdles, setting a school record with a time of 7.66 seconds. But it’s his performance at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships that remains most vivid in his mind.

“I will never forget how I felt hitting the hurdle,” Stewart said.

“I was so confident and ready to win, ready to cross that finish line. But something happened and I hit it hard. Everyone else gained an edge, and I ended up in fifth.”

Coming off a personal best and UT record time in the 110-meter hurdles, Stewart surged ahead into first place before colliding with the eighth hurdle. In a fraction of a second, his season goal fell apart. Stewart didn’t walk away with a gold, but he didn’t allow the twinge from the loss to get into his head.

“I was upset after the race, but only for a split second,” Stewart said. “Then the next thought I had was getting back to practice and training hard to achieve a new goal. It made no sense for me to drag that memory around with me when there was nothing I could do to change the outcome.”

For Stewart, it’s all about executing the smallest technical mechanics properly, trying his hardest and finishing the race.

“There is no room for error in this race, or in this sport,” Stewart said. “Even the favorites fall sometimes.”

Next weekend, the all-American will compete in the Big 12 Indoor Championships, eyeing a top finish in the 60-meter hurdles.

And you can guarantee his speedy, sockless feet will carry him leaps and bounds above his competitors.

Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: Big 12 Track and Field

The ninth-ranked Longhorns are gearing up for competition at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., after a long but productive week of hosting the Texas Relays.

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association ranked Texas No. 14 last week, but the team jumped into the top 10 for the first time of the outdoor season Tuesday.

This upcoming weekend should be another interesting one, as the Longhorn athletes look to continue their climb in the polls.

In the men’s 100-meter dash, Marquise Goodwin, Trevante Rhodes, Alex Williams and D.J. Monroe are set to compete in an attempt to break the meet record of 9.86 seconds, set by Ato Boldon in 1998.

Sophomore Keiron Stewart will also be looking to improve on his times after he set the school record in the 110-meter hurdles at the Texas-Arkansas-UCLA tri-meet with a time of 13.44 on March 25. Stewart currently holds the indoor and outdoor short-hurdle records at UT.

Stewart is also a part of the talented 1,600-meter relay team, along with Isaac Murphy, Andre Thomas and Danzell Fortson.
Decathletes Kenny Greaves, Murphy and Jake Wohlford are back in action after a much improved showing at the Texas Relays. Murphy and Greaves posted personal bests in eight and seven, respectively, of the 10 events last week. Wohlford, a freshman, won the 110-meter hurdles in the Relays decathlon.

While the athletes are coming off an exhaustive experience at the Texas Relays, as much of an experience as a race, the Mt. SAC Relays have an equally important history.

They bring in an estimated 9,000 competitors every year, according to mtsacrelays.com. Because of the famous elite division and amount of international high school students that attend, the organizers have adopted the slogan “Where the world’s best athletes compete.”

The Mt. SAC Relays also sponsor a novel 10,000-meter event. Texas sophomore Rory Tunningley will compete in what is the longest distance standard track event. This tedious race, which is a little over six miles long, has only had one American ever win the gold medal in the Olympic history and is not usually employed in U.S. meets.

The No. 17 Longhorns look to rally after placing 10th at the NCAA Indoor Championship with a home tri-meet this weekend against No. 14 Arkansas and No. 24 UCLA.

They want to improve the outside perception of the team after an inconsistent indoor season.

“It was difficult,” said junior Trevante Rhodes. “There were a lot of ups and downs during the indoor season, but it’s a step in the
right direction.”

High expectations can be seen as both a good and bad thing. Although it seemed as though the Longhorns did not perform well, it was the Longhorns’ eighth top-10 finish in the last nine seasons.

Last year, the Longhorns finished seventh in the outdoor championship with current stars Jamal Wilson and Keiron Stewart leading the way.
A strong youth movement played a role in last year’s run to the outdoor championship. Freshmen were helping to pull much of the load for the Longhorns last May. First-years such as Keiron Stewart, Hayden Baillio and Jarard Bruner all did their part to push the Longhorns to a seventh place finish.

Stewart finished third, Baillio finished fourth, and Bruner finished 13th.

“It was more of a rebuilding year,” Rhodes said. “We are moving in a positive direction, and I think with the young guys we have, we
are confident.”

———

Texas Tri-Meet
Date: Friday
Time: 1 p.m.
Place: Mike A. Myers Stadium
(Austin, Texas) 

Men's Track

The ninth-ranked Longhorns send six men to College Station this Friday and Saturday for the much anticipated NCAA Indoor Championships.

The Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium will be a two-day home for upperclassmen Jamal Wilson and Jacob Thormaehlen and lowerclassmen Hayden Baillio, Marquise Goodwin, Keiron Stewart and Mark Jackson. Stewart leads the talented Longhorns. Stewart is the fastest in the nation this year in the 60-meter hurdles with a top time of 7.66 seconds.

Though some people see the Longhorns as inexperienced, they remain confident in their ability to do well.

“Throughout the season, there has been major improvement,” Baillio said. “Last year was a disappointment in both the indoor and outdoor season. We just need to do what we have done and we will be fine.”

Throughout the last eight seasons, the Longhorns have finished in the top 10 seven times, with two third-place finishes. Prior to that, Texas had recorded only two top 10 finishes since 1965.

“We are excited about everybody,” Baillio said. “We have high expectations, and if we are able to repeat our performance from this year, we will come out near the top.”

<em> NCAA.com </em> and <em> aggieathletics.com </em> will stream the championship meet live Friday and Saturday — expected start time is 10 a.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday. ESPN 3 will also stream the event live on Friday from 4 to 8:40 p.m. and on Saturday from 4 to 7:50 p.m.