Mario Sategna

Texas track and field coach Mario Satenga will help coach Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He will assist the nation’s top throwers as well as other members of Team USA.

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Texas track and field head coach Mario Sategna “has separated from the program” in his fifth year as head coach, per a press release from Texas Athletics on Thursday morning. Associate Head Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey will take over as interim head coach immediately.

“After discussing the future of our track and field program, I felt it was best to move forward and head in a new direction at this time,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “Coach Buford-Bailey has a great deal of experience as a head coach and has been a valuable leader in our program for several years now. We have full confidence in her ability to lead our student-athletes and in assuming the duties of head coach immediately.”

Sategna spent 15 years in total with the Texas program, in which he saw his fair share of success. In 2016, however, Sategna underwent an ethics probe in which he took a four-month leave of absence.

On the track, junior sprinter Morolake Akinosun has had success in the 100m and 200m dashes and 4x100m and 4x400m relays.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Junior sprinter Morolake Akinosun has earned a superlative from track and field head coach Mario Sategna.

“She’s Texas track’s most versatile athlete,” Sategna said. 

Akinosun smiles humbly and turns the personal praise into a team tribute.

“It means a lot, but what it really means is that I have his trust,” Akinosun said. “At a meet, practice or even the training room, I will do anything to help my team.”

To every question, Akinosun gives a calculated answer, emphasizing the team. After her leg in the winning women’s 4x100m relay at Saturday’s Longhorn Invitational, Akinosun was already preparing for the team’s trip to the Big 12 Championships.

“We’ve been putting in the hard work since September, and now it gets to really be seen,” Akinosun said. “A meet like this is one of the very few times in track and field that the team concept comes to mind; you’re not just running to win. You’re running for your team.”

Akinosun’s original plans had her succeeding next to her sister, Moriyike, as teammates at the University of Illinois. But as fate would have it, she left the frigid north for Austin. 

“My initial draw to Texas was coach [Tonja Buford]-Bailey. While at Illinois, I developed an amazing relationship with her.” 

Buford-Bailey, a former Olympian medalist, made the move to join coach Mario Sategna at Texas, and Akinosun had no hesitation in following her mentor. 

“I wanted to continue my career with her as my coach,” Akinosun said. “However, after just being on the campus for a visit, I fell in love with it and didn’t want to go anywhere else. She’s my mom away from mom.”

Buford-Bailey’s training has produced wins upon wins for Akinosun this year. In the outdoor season alone, she has amassed victories in the 100m dash, 200m dash, 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay. Akinosun attributes her success to the coaching staff at Texas. 

“They give me amazing coaching strategies and helped develop me into an athlete that can run 100-400 meters and be on both relays,” Akinosun said.

Off the track, Akinosun is known on the team for being a character and someone who brings joy to the locker room.

“If I was stranded on an island and could only have two teammates, it would be [senior sprinter] Morgan Snow and [sophomore sprinter] Chris Irvin,” Akinosun said. “If I’m stranded on an island, I at least want to be able to laugh, and Morgan does that. And if we’re stuck on an island, we need someone to get us off. Chris would be the guy to figure that out.” 

When her running days are over, Akinosun has her next step figured out.

“When I’m done running track — hopefully after a couple Olympic games — I would love to pursue a master’s degree in biomechanics,” Akinosun said. “I want to build rehab equipment and prosthetics to help athletes or just people in general.”

No. 1 Texas women’s track and field team fell just short of winning the title, finishing second, at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.  

Although senior Marielle Hall won the 5,000-meter and the women’s 4x400 relay team took first in its event, their efforts came too late for the Longhorns as Texas A&M had already clinched the team championship. 

The Texas men’s team wasn’t as successful as the women’s, however. The men finished 11th in the overall standings.  

Despite the teams’ finishing positions, first year head coach Mario Sategna is happy with the outdoor season and is looking forward to the future. 

“I think this is a great starting point, with this being a very historic year for the University of Texas,” Sategna said at a press conference. “We knew at the beginning of the season we had the people to win a championship ….”

As for Saturday’s events, Hall was phenomenal, winning the 5,000 with a time of 15 minutes, 35.11 seconds. 

“I’ve been feeling really good since cross country and I haven’t had a [5,000-meter] race [lately] and haven’t been able to show that,” Hall said in a press conference after the meet. “So to come out here and have it come together — I’m obviously really excited — but I knew that I had it inside me.”

The 4x400-meter women’s relay team also gave a strong performance at the NCAA meet; the team set a meet record, running the event in 3:24.21 seconds, the second-fastest time in collegiate history. The 4x100-meter women’s team finished third.

Also competing at the meet, Texas’ sophomore Courtney Okolo won the 400 championship Friday.

“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.”

Freshman Fabian Jara Dohmann was the only member of the Texas men’s team who competed Saturday, finishing 18th with a javelin toss of 211-4.

The men had plenty of competitors in other events. Junior Ryan Crouser successfully defended his national shot put title. Crouser’s toss of 69-3 1/2 won him a third straight national championship.

Sophomore Johannes Hock failed to defend his decathlon title after struggling in the 1,500 and finishing second.

“He’ll walk away from here feeling defeated, but the decathlon is a different beast,” Sategna said. “He went into the 1,500 — not one of his strong points — in the lead. He gave it a shot for three laps and kind of fell off the pace at the end.”

Also competing for Texas was sophomore Reese Watson who finished seventh in the pole vault. 

The NCAA Track & Field Championship concludes the track and field season. The team will now enter the offseason before starting again in the fall with the cross country season.

Longhorns track and field sophmore decathlete Johannes Hock during the decathlon shot put at the NCAA track and field championships on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowner | Daily Texan Staff

Heading into Day 2 of the NCAA Track & Field Championships, it appeared as if Longhorn sophomore Johannes Hock would win his second decathlon title. With only one event — the 1,500 meter run — remaining, Hock held a small lead of 23 points. But Hock saw his chances at winning dissapear after finishing 12th in the 1,500.

"He'll walk away from here feeling defeated, but the decathlon is a different beast," Texas head coach Mario Sategna said. “He went into the 1,500 — not one of his strong points — in the lead. He gave it a shot for three laps and kind of fell off the pace at the end.”
The Longhorn women continued a solid qualifying effort. Three Texas runners advanced to a finals event Thursday.
Sophomore Morolake Akinosun was able to advance to her third final at the championships with a victory in her 100-meter heat.
The women’s 4x400 meter relay team was able to advance to finals with a top time of 3 minutes and 28 seconds.
The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship continues Friday.

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.”

New Texas head coach Mario Sategna is the first UT track coach to oversee a joint men’s and women’s program. 

Photo Credit: Eric Park | Daily Texan Staff

When Texas track and field combined into a joint men’s and women’s program before this season, a monumental effort was needed to form a successful product. Both coaches from the previous year stepped down, but the program was passed to a familiar face. 

Mario Sategna had been an assistant coach for the Longhorns for the last decade, establishing himself as one of the nation’s top assistant coaches. But he never left for another job, and with the merger, he finally got the offer he desired. 

“It was a dream come true,” Sategna said. “This is where I always wanted to be,” 

But how did one man, with no head coaching experience, take over a program that had recently doubled in size? 

He recruited, arguably, the best staff in the country. 

“You want to go after people that have similar philosophies that work well,” Sategna said. “My thing was to go out and find the right fit for Texas.”

Sategna immediately pitched Tonja Buford-Bailey, a three-time Olympian, to be his associate head coach. She already had a women’s head coaching job at the University of Illinois, but the allure of Texas proved too much to pass up.

“I was to the point where I had outgrown my position there,” Buford-Bailey said. “I felt like I would have a better opportunity in recruiting to be able to get a foot in the door with some of the best athletes in the nation.”

When searching for a throwing coach, Sategna looked no further than an old teammate from his days at LSU, Ty Sevin. Sevin was the head coach at University of New Orleans, but, like Buford-Bailey, he couldn’t say no to the opportunity at Texas.

To round out his staff, Sategna recruited Kareem Streete-Thompson, another former Olympian. Streete-Thompson previously served at the University of Missouri coaching sprints, hurdles and horizontal jumps — the same role he holds at Texas. 

Sategna assembled a decorated staff, but the team could not function unless Sategna let his coaches work unimpeded.

“The main thing for them this year was just to have them recruit and coach and me to take on more of an administration role,” Sategna said.

The trust he’s built with his staff has gone a long way. 

“The greatest thing about it is that he trusts me and my operations on a daily basis,” Buford-Bailey said. “That makes it a lot easier for me.”

Sategna understood one man could not handle such a large team by himself, nor could he micromanage his staff once they were in place. For optimal performance, he placed faith in his staff, just like he does with his athletes. 

Senior middle distance runner Katie Hoaldridge competes in the 2014 Texas Relays. Hoaldridge is using her experience on the track and field team to pursue a career in the music industry.

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

The NCAA proudly flaunts that the overwhelming majority of its athletes — 99 percent, according to some sources — go professional in something other than sports. 

Senior middle distance runner Katie Hoaldridge has made it a point to throw her energy — and there’s a lot of it, in her case — behind both aspects of the student-athlete classification. 

The senior has achieved first team all-Big 12 status in the 800-meters, indoor 1,000 meters and indoor distance medley, becoming one of Texas’ best middle distance runners as she strives for records on the track. 

In addition, Hoaldridge already has her degree in radio-television-film and hopes to balance her possible future in track with the pursuit of a career in the music industry.

Hoaldridge took the fall semester away from the team for the communication school’s “Semester in Los Angeles” program, which gave her an opportunity to work with Sony Music and Warner Brothers. This made some of her coaches a tad nervous. 

“[Head coach Mario Sategna] jokingly was like, ‘If I would have been in charge when you got the go to do that, I wouldn’t have let you,’” Hoaldridge said. “But it kind of worked out in my favor.” 

Sategna may have been hesitant to let one of his top veterans take leave from the team during the offseason, but he recognizes that academics come before the athletics. 

“We’ve always talked to them about using track and field as a springboard, and what better way to be here at the University of Texas and to be here for the right reasons?” Sategna said. “When you have juniors and seniors, they’re looking on to their next career opportunity. We want to support them to the fullest.” 

Hoaldridge’s decision to pursue an internship in Los Angeles meant that she had to work even harder to maintain her national-championship-caliber fitness level. 

“It was so hard,” Hoaldridge said. “I would wake up at 6 a.m. … then I wouldn’t get home until 8 p.m., and then I’d just go to the gym because it would be night time, and I’m not going to go run by myself in Los Angeles.”

Her performance this season has proven that even major obstacles, such as a significant lack of sleep and being thousands of miles from her coaching staff, do not fluster the senior. Hoaldridge anchored the 4x800 meter relay team to a second-place finish at the Texas Relays and has posted what should be an 800-meter qualifying time for the NCAA West Regionals, where a strong performance could land her in the championship meet.

“I would like to close out the season with a good performance at NCAAs.” Hoaldridge said. “I’ve never made [the NCAAs] individually before.”

A strong showing at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships this summer would serve as a wonderful transition from one career into another, but, if an opportunity arises, Hoaldridge would still love to run after college. 

“Obviously, if I go full throttle in the music industry, that’s not necessarily going to be an option because I probably will never sleep,” Hoaldridge said. “But, if that is an option, I would love to pursue it. This season kind of determines my next move, but, if I can run, I would love to.”

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.

The Longhorns continue their outdoor season Friday and Saturday with another big challenge at the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, Calif., against runners from the top programs in the nation.

After the women’s side vaulted 12 spots in the rankings to No. 3 overall, first year head coach Mario Sategna will need to maintain his team’s focus in order to sustain the Longhorn’s recent success.

“I think the tough thing for us as coaches is we are trying to get the athletes prepared for the end of the year,” Sategna said. “But at the same time, it’s very important that we come out and have a great showing.”

Senior middle distance runner Marielle Hall is coming off a 1,500-meter win at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.  

“This is my senior year, so I have to give it everything I have,” Hall said. “I hope that we can come out on top to have that momentum from a second place indoor finish.”

The Texas men experienced a 12 spot slide to No. 18 in the polls after Texas Relays.  However, the early-season slide may look irrelevant by season’s end, as the team still has several meets ahead of it.

Mostly distance runners have been entered into this weekend’s meet, with athletes competing in the 800-, 1,500-, 5,000- and 10,000-meter.

One athlete to watch on the men’s side is senior distance runner John McNamara.  The senior finished seventh in the mile at Texas Relays with a time of 4:08.95 and will compete in the 1,500-meter this weekend.

Another athlete to keep an eye on is junior distance runner Mark Pinales.  Coming off a win in the 5,000-meter at Texas Relays with a time of 14:25.96, Pinales looks to increase his distance to 10,000-meter mark and hopes for the same winning result.

Women's golf heads to SDSU Farms Invitational

After a month without competition, the women’s golf team heads back to the course Monday for the SDSU Farms Invitational. 

Hosted by San Diego State, the Horns will face conference competitor No. 13 Oklahoma State, as well as 15 other top teams from around the country. 

Among these are USC and UCLA, who are the No. 1 and No. 2 teams nationally.

The Longhorns have struggled early this season, finishing near the bottom in their first two tournaments, but will look to junior Bertine Strauss to lead the team against these tough opponents. 

The first round of the three-day tournament begins Monday morning.

—Caroline Hall

Women's tennis team remains in top 25

The Longhorns host two struggling teams this weekend as they look to improve their Big 12 record.

Despite having a 6-9 dual-match record, No. 21 Texas remains the only top-25 team in the ITA rankings with a losing record.

The team may be getting a pass given that eight of those nine defeats have come against top-15 opponents.

However, those losses have allowed conference foes Baylor and Oklahoma to pass Texas in the rankings.

On Friday, the Iowa State Cyclones come to Austin for an evening matchup. The Cyclones own a 3-4 road record and enter this meeting having lost three straight at home.

Texas will face a 3-10 West Virginia squad Sunday at 11 a.m. Both the Mountaineers and the Cyclones own 0-2 conference records, as each team lost to Kansas and Kansas State, whom the Longhorns play in two weeks on the road.

Friday’s match against Iowa will start at 6 p.m. at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center.

—Chris Caraveo

Women's track set to begin outdoor season with high expectations

The Longhorns begin their outdoor track and field season this weekend at the UTSA Texas Challenge Invitational, just one week off of a second-place finish at the NCAA Indoor National Championships. The team expects to continue finishing with the top scores in the nation as it transitions to running outdoors.

“We had a great indoor season on both the men’s and the women’s side,” head coach Mario Sategna said in a statement. “[The athletes] are going to expect the same type of performances as we head into the outdoor season.”

Running outdoors may be a significant boon to the team’s performance at meets. Because UT does not have an indoor track facility, the team was unable to regularly practice running the tighter curves and shorter distances of an indoor track.

This weekend’s meet marks a return to competing outdoors and will prepare the Longhorns for their first big challenge of the season at the Texas Relays held March 26-29.

—Daniel Clay

Men's track and field heads to San Antonio to start outdoor season

Fresh off a 20th place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Longhorns will travel to San Antonio this weekend for the start of the outdoor track and field season at the UTSA Invitational. 

After a successful indoor season full of impressive performances, the men must quickly adjust to the outdoor conditions in order to be prepared for the upcoming meet.

The athlete to watch for the entire outdoor season is sophomore shot putter Ryan Crouser. Crouser, who already holds Texas’ indoor and outdoor shot put records, is coming off an individual national championship in shot put last week.

It may seem like Crouser has little left to prove, but head coach Mario Sategna disagrees.

“The sky is really the limit for Ryan,” Sategna said. “And he’s kind of his own toughest critic. So no matter how far he throws, he’ll find something to still be working on and improving.”

—Grant Gordon