Megan Siebert

A fantastic regular season propelled the Longhorns to a No. 2 overall ranking, but that meant nothing on Friday when the Longhorns began postseason competition at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in Lubbock.

Friday did not bring any medals for the Longhorn women, but Senior Megan Siebert’s fifth place finish in the 10,000-meters and senior Shanay Briscoe’s strong performances in the first day of heptathlon events set the table for a great weekend for first year head coach Mario Sategna’s squad.

"[Briscoe’s] a senior, she's a veteran," Sategna said. "We never want to take that for granted. It's very nice to have someone of her caliber that sets the tone."

The awards began to trickle in for the Longhorns on Saturday.

Shanay Briscoe’s strong performance Friday placed the senior in position to finish fourth in her first ever heptathlon.

Keeping with the regular season trend, pole-vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose easily bested her competition. The sophomore’s had to clear only one bar to capture her fourth consecutive conference title, doing so on her second attempt at 4.22 meters.

Sunday brought on a deluge of medals for Texas, with a lot of those coming from the dominant stable of sprinters.

Sophomore Courtney Okolo, followed by freshman Kendall Baisden and Senior Briana Nelson, led a podium sweep in the 400-meters. Okolo’s winning time of 50.03 set an NCAA record in the event.

Sophomore Morolake Akinosun added to the sprinters’ medal count with victories in the 100 and 200-meters, while senior Marielle Hall’s victory in the 1,500-meters capped a strong effort from the distance group.

The wealth of first place finishes on Sunday vaulted the Longhorns, who began the day in sixth place, to first place and a Big 12 championship.

The Longhorns will look to continue their success as they head to Fayetteville, Arkansas May 29-31 for the NCAA West Regional, the qualifier for June’s national meet. 

Despite her recent recognition as Big 12 Runner of the Week and an academic All-American honor, senior All-American Marielle Hall appreciates her awards as if they were her first. 

Hall, who recently added a pair of national honors to her resume following the Oct. 19 Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, still enjoys being recognized for her work. 

“My position is definitely one of privilege, so I try not to take any of those things for granted,” Hall said. “I’m really proud to be able to represent the team, the school, my family and myself the best I can.”

Looking at Hall’s results, it’s evident she’s represented her school well. 

Besides her awards this year, Hall has been well-decorated in her Texas career, winning the 2012 South Central Region Athlete of the Year award and making the Academic All-Big 12 team twice before her placement in 2013. 

Led by Hall and Megan Siebert, the Longhorns are looking to turn heads at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships, a 6,000-meter race hosted by Baylor. Hall and her teammates have built toward this meet all season, and they hope for a great performance. 

With her third place finish and  personal-best time of 19:46 at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. Her coaches expect a great individual performance. 

“We have been led by Hall, who is coming off a nice race in Wisconsin,” cross country coach Brad Herbster said. “Marielle has the tools to be amazing at this meet, her confidence is high, and she is a wonderful student athlete. Texas has never had an individual champion in the Big 12, and we are hoping that [Hall] can be the first of many.” 

Hall shares her coach’s sentiment.

“I’m definitely expecting to do a lot better than I have done, time-wise and place-wise, so that’s something that I think my team’s expecting from me, and I’m expecting from myself,” Hall said. “So I’m excited to get in there, and see how much I’ve improved and compete.”

Texas goes up against returning rivals Iowa State and Oklahoma State, who shared the top three team slots with Texas the past two years, with Iowa State finishing in first place both years. The Texas women finished in second and third place in 2011 and 2012, respectively. 

Hall wants her senior season to end differently. She can’t control the outcome, but she’s confident in her teammates’ abilities and hopes to hoist her first Big 12 Championship trophy by the end of the weekend. 

With 31 teams and 253 runners, Louisville’s E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park course was a bustling place Saturday. Seven Longhorns raced to a team 25th (526 points) in this year’s NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championships.

Leading the pack, junior Marielle Hall sped through the 6k in 20:04.5 at 23rd overall. Within the next minute, junior Sara Sutherland’s 20:26.8 and Megan Siebert’s 21:07.9 earned the girls 58th and 153rd respectively.

“I knew we would have to pick it up a lot in the second part of the race,” Hall said. “I did my best to make that happen and was really happy with the result.”

Hall is the eighth UT athlete to earn cross country All-American honors. Her 23rd finish marked the highest Longhorn finish at the meet since 1989.

“What [Hall] accomplished is proof the program is moving in the right direction,” assistant coach Stephen Sisson said. “As far as the team goes, we are a bit disappointed. We thought we had a real chance to surprise people in the country.”

Oregon won the team title with 114 points and Iowa State’s Betsy Saina finished first with a course-record 19:27.9. The Longhorns’ 2013 indoor track season begins Jan. 12.

Women's Cross Country

As a team, Texas finished second at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships on Friday, Nov. 9. Individually, Marielle Hall and Sara Sutherland finished first and second respectively. Division I coaches awarded Hall the South Central Region Athlete of the Year honors for the 2012 cross country season. In addition, Hall, Sutherland, Megan Siebert and Laleh Mojtabaeezamani each received All-Region accolades for last weekend’s performance.

But when they step on the 6k course Saturday morning, none of that will matter. Texas will be competing in the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., with a successful season behind it. But so will everyone else.

Currently ranked No. 19, Texas finished No. 26 in 2011 and No. 20 in 2010. In last year’s NCAA Championships, Sutherland finished in 96th place (20:59.4), Siebert in 126th place (21:13.9), Mojtabaeezamani in 153rd place (21:24.6) and Hall in 156th place (21:25.0). With hefty competition behind it, Texas meets teams from early this season.

“We have the No. 2 ranked team in our conference,” Sutherland said of Iowa State after the Big 12 Championships. “You have to compete against the best to be the best, so we really do have an advantage.”

The women’s race begins at 11 a.m. Saturday. The NCAA will broadcast the competition live on its website.

Women's cross country

In third grade, Megan Siebert made a promise to her coach and mentor that one day she would be a Longhorn. In return, he promised her he would do everything in his power to help get her to Austin. Ten years later, Siebert is a University of Texas cross country runner that has already contributed to the Longhorns’ early-season success.

“In 16 years of teaching, she is the one student that kept her word,” said Siebert’s former coach James Graham. “She made a promise and she kept a promise. No matter the situation she stayed on course and that speaks a lot for her character.”

Texas posted perfect scores at the first two meets — placing runners in all top five spots. Siebert, a freshman, came in fourth at the Ricardo Romo/Six Flags Texas Classic on Sept. 17 and finished second at the Johnny Morris UH Invititational on Sept. 3.

For Graham, Siebert’s success this early in her career is even more impressive considering her background.
Siebert first found a mentor in Graham when she began attending the Shelton School and Evaluation Center — a school that specializes in ‘learning differences’ — in her hometown of Dallas.

“She was very shy and had some learning differences you could say, and she was struggling to fit in,” Graham said. “In an attempt to find success with her, we adapted some of the programs in physical education and it took off. That developed into a continuous deal; there was a trust built up and a relationship that went on until she graduated.”

When she started attending Shelton and met Graham, nobody expected much from her. Graham was the exception, he had her do timed miles and jump rope competitions, during which she often beat the boys that participated.

Graham’s work with Siebert helped her develop and increased her interest in athletics.

“I had just been moved to that school and a lot of people were concerned about my abilities because I didn’t really talk,” Siebert said. “[Graham] would bring the best out in me; he brought out something I never knew I had.”

When Siebert started public school at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson she continued to train and exercise with Graham.

“He would pick me up in the mornings and help me train,” she said. “He put me in competitions and helped me through those and really encouraged me.”

In high school Siebert continued to run, in addition to playing volleyball and basketball. She was dedicated to athletics — often going above and beyond the normal training schedule.

“Whenever everyone else was dragging into school she was already in the weight room for an hour,” Graham said. “She would stay after school with me, but she never had the coaching that most kids have that go to a big school in Texas.”

Siebert’s determination and hard work, paired with her dedication to the University of Texas appealed to Longhorn head coach Steve Sisson.

“Megan made sure that I was aware of her,” Sisson said. “She is an athlete I say bleeds orange. Her desire to be a Longhorn is one of the key attributes that I look for in an athlete. I am always looking for the kind of athlete that is highly motivated to give back to the school — that is something that Megan really showed.”

Being an athlete at Texas has been dramatically different from the long days she put in with Graham.

“It has been a completely different training environment for her,” Sisson said. “She came from an environment where she had to do a lot of training by herself. It has allowed her to settle in and run.”

Sisson said the new environment and team atmosphere helped Siebert perform well at the first two meets. He said he expects her to be different from a typical freshman.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to work with her for four or five years,” Sisson said. “My guess is that she is going to continue to defy the odds. She is making an immediate impact and I think that bodes well for her.”

Siebert and Graham have continued to stay in contact throughout her time on the 40 Acres. Graham now works at a school in San Antonio and it is written into his contract that if she ever needs him, he will leave work.

“If she calls, I go,” Graham said. “That is an ongoing promise I have had since she was in third grade; I will be there without hesitation.”

Graham said that Siebert’s success in becoming a Longhorn is a testament to her dedication and hard work. As she grew up, he said, she never failed at achieving a goal. Siebert, however, credits him for helping her achieve her ultimate goal — being a Longhorn athlete.

“I have always wanted, first of all, to go to Texas,” Siebert said. “I would always say, ‘I want to go to Texas and I want to run.’ People would tell me it was impossible and coach Graham would always keep my mindset up and say I could do it.”

Initially Sisson was not too confident in Siebert’s future success as a Longhorn, but her performance thus far has changed his mind.

“She was more interested in us than we were in her, but luckily I came to my senses,” Sisson said. “I am really happy that we did pay attention to her because this cross country season she has done well.”

Siebert is just happy that she has fulfilled her dream.

“Running at UT has always been a part of what I wanted,” she said. 

In third grade, Megan Siebert made a promise to her coach and mentor that one day she would be a Longhorn. In return, he promised her he would do everything in his power to help get her to Austin. Ten years later, Siebert is a University of Texas cross country runner that has already contributed to the Longhorns’ early-season success.

“In 16 years of teaching, she is the one student that kept her word,” said Siebert’s former coach James Graham. “She made a promise and she kept a promise. No matter the situation she stayed on course and that speaks a lot for her character.”

Texas posted perfect scores at the first two meets — placing runners in all top five spots. Siebert, a freshman, came in fourth at the Ricardo Romo/Six Flags Texas Classic on Sept. 17 and finished second at the Johnny Morris UH Invititational on Sept. 3.

For Graham, Siebert’s success this early in her career is even more impressive considering her background.
Siebert first found a mentor in Graham when she began attending the Shelton School and Evaluation Center — a school that specializes in ‘learning differences’ — in her hometown of Dallas.

“She was very shy and had some learning differences you could say, and she was struggling to fit in,” Graham said. “In an attempt to find success with her, we adapted some of the programs in physical education and it took off. That developed into a continuous deal; there was a trust built up and a relationship that went on until she graduated.”

When she started attending Shelton and met Graham, nobody expected much from her. Graham was the exception, he had her do timed miles and jump rope competitions, during which she often beat the boys that participated.

Graham’s work with Siebert helped her develop and increased her interest in athletics.

“I had just been moved to that school and a lot of people were concerned about my abilities because I didn’t really talk,” Siebert said. “[Graham] would bring the best out in me; he brought out something I never knew I had.”

When Siebert started public school at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson she continued to train and exercise with Graham.

“He would pick me up in the mornings and help me train,” she said. “He put me in competitions and helped me through those and really encouraged me.”

In high school Siebert continued to run, in addition to playing volleyball and basketball. She was dedicated to athletics — often going above and beyond the normal training schedule.

“Whenever everyone else was dragging into school she was already in the weight room for an hour,” Graham said. “She would stay after school with me, but she never had the coaching that most kids have that go to a big school in Texas.”

Siebert’s determination and hard work, paired with her dedication to the University of Texas appealed to Longhorn head coach Steve Sisson.

“Megan made sure that I was aware of her,” Sisson said. “She is an athlete I say bleeds orange. Her desire to be a Longhorn is one of the key attributes that I look for in an athlete. I am always looking for the kind of athlete that is highly motivated to give back to the school — that is something that Megan really showed.”

Being an athlete at Texas has been dramatically different from the long days she put in with Graham.

“It has been a completely different training environment for her,” Sisson said. “She came from an environment where she had to do a lot of training by herself. It has allowed her to settle in and run.”

Sisson said the new environment and team atmosphere helped Siebert perform well at the first two meets. He said he expects her to be different from a typical freshman.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to work with her for four or five years,” Sisson said. “My guess is that she is going to continue to defy the odds. She is making an immediate impact and I think that bodes well for her.”

Siebert and Graham have continued to stay in contact throughout her time on the 40 Acres. Graham now works at a school in San Antonio and it is written into his contract that if she ever needs him, he will leave work.

“If she calls, I go,” Graham said. “That is an ongoing promise I have had since she was in third grade; I will be there without hesitation.”

Graham said that Siebert’s success in becoming a Longhorn is a testament to her dedication and hard work. As she grew up, he said, she never failed at achieving a goal. Siebert, however, credits him for helping her achieve her ultimate goal — being a Longhorn athlete.

“I have always wanted, first of all, to go to Texas,” Siebert said. “I would always say, ‘I want to go to Texas and I want to run.’ People would tell me it was impossible and coach Graham would always keep my mindset up and say I could do it.”

Initially Sisson was not too confident in Siebert’s future success as a Longhorn, but her performance thus far has changed his mind.

“She was more interested in us than we were in her, but luckily I came to my senses,” Sisson said. “I am really happy that we did pay attention to her because this cross country season she has done well.”

Siebert is just happy that she has fulfilled her dream.

“Running at UT has always been a part of what I wanted,” she said.