Mia Behm

Women's Cross Country

Texas placed three runners in the top five to win the Grass Routes Grand Prix at Morris Williams Golf Course last Friday.

The Longhorns were led by senior Mia Behm, whose time of 21:33 was good enough for third place in the competition. The course was a challenge because of its hilly nature. 

“The race today was pretty rough,” Behm said.

Rounding out the top five for Texas were sophomores Sara Sutherland and Marielle Hall.

“It felt like they wanted to make it as hilly as they could, but I was really proud of our team,” Behm said.

Texas Hook ‘Em took the No. 1 team spot, with its second team, Texas Horns, placing fourth.

“I am really happy with their performance,” said Texas head coach Stephen Sisson. “I would like to see faster times, but you should do video footage on this course to show people how difficult it is.”

Texas’ next event will come in two weeks on Oct. 15 at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark.

Printed on Monday, October 3, 2011 as: Behm's third place finish leads Horns to win 

Womens Track and Field

T?he Longhorns have moved up to take the No. 3 spot in the nation according to a new poll by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. This honor can be attributed to the hard work of all the athletes, but also to the contributions of distance runners.

The distance women competed last weekend at the highly competitive Husky Invitational in Seattle. Other teams that participated included No. 1 Oregon, No. 6 Tennessee, and No. 10 BYU.

At the Husky Invitational, junior Mia Behm automatically qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 15.58.34 in the 5000m. Behm raced the second-fastest time ever at the University of Texas for the 5000m.

In the 3000m at the invitational, redshirt senior Betzy Jimenez posted a season-best 9:20.26 to finish 10th overall in the 3000m race. Other contributors included Sara Sutherland (26th), Julie Amthor (32nd) and Laleh Mojtabaeezamani (56th).

“It’s awesome because I feel that the team couldn’t rely on distance in the past to be contributing,” Behm said. “It’s nice to feel like part of the team, like we are actually doing something to help them.”

Distance coach Steve Sisson said the track season has been on the team’s mind since the summer. The cross country season helped his team prepare, he said.

“The successes we had in cross country transferred into track,” Sisson said. “The way I designed what we are doing is around the outdoor National Championships. Our program, our attitude and our approach is to make sure we are ready to race but also for us to perform late rather then early. We still have room for improvement, but we are about where we need to be in terms of progress.”

Behm agreed that the high level of success the distance runners achieved during cross country has encouraged them through the start of the track season.

“I think it set the bar higher for us going into track,” she said. “Which is good, we like a challenge and it is awesome that people expect us to do things now instead of expecting us to do nothing.”

Behm said that the transition to track has been an easy one for the distance runners. She said many of the athletes were relieved to train and compete on a flat surface, a track with a more predictable terrain.

They feel their best performances will happen at the outdoor meets.

“I think we have at least six girls that could score for indoors and even more for outdoor,” Behm said. “Outdoor we are going to be pretty phenomenal. We have some 10K runners that are going to shine outdoors and can’t contribute indoors.”

All of the women on the team are gearing up for the ultimate goal — a national title.

“That should be our goal because that is the top of all aspirations, but it’s not far off for the University of Texas,” Sutherland said.
Despite their success , the long distance runners all agree that in the quest for a national title, it is most important that they contribute to the team as a whole.

“Scoring points for the team, that’s our goal,” Sisson said. “We are just one part of the track team, the distance program is just one small part. We have all kinds of athletes and the distance runners are just trying to play their part and have an impact.”

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Mia Behm 5000m 15:58.34
Betzy Jiminez 3000m 9:20.26
Sara Sutherland 3000m 9:30.60
Julie Amthor 3000m 9:38.95

Women's Track

Distance runner Mia Behm automatically qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday night after posting 15:58.34 in the 5,000 meter.

Longhorn distance runners competed at the Husky Classic in Seattle this weekend, and the remaining events took place at the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque.

Behm placed sixth overall and recorded the second-fastest time ever at Texas in the 5,000.In Albuquerue, long jumpers A’Lexus Brannon and Beverly Owoyele both posted personal bests. In the high jump, freshman Shanay Briscoe placed first, clearing 5-11.50.
 

Women's Track

The Longhorns will split up again this week as part of the team heads to the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque and the remainder competes in the Husky Classic in Seattle.

No. 8 Texas distance runners will face the top distance teams at the invite-only Husky Classic. Other teams participating include No. 1 Oregon, No. 5 Tennessee, No. 7 BYU, No. 9 Auburn and many others.

The Longhorns don’t feel intimidated by the competition. Instead, they say it will help them improve.

“I feel really excited for all of us because [assistant coach] Steve [Sisson] has been training us to prep for this meet, for us all to get good times,” junior runner Mia Behm said. “With the training that we are going in with, along with the competition we are going to be facing, it should bode well for really good results.”

The team previously split up on Jan. 28-29 to compete at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville and the Houston Invite.
In Fayetteville, junior Angele Cooper ran the nation’s second-fastest 400-meter time (52.69), and senior Chantel Malone posted the second-best long jump in school history (21-10).

After the Jan. 28-29 meets, Malone was named Big 12 Athlete of the Week for her performance. Her 21-10 jump puts her at first in the nation.

Because the Husky Classic is focused on distance, Malone, Cooper and much of the team will compete at the Don Kirby Invitational.

Other high performers that will participate in the Don Kirby meet include Shanay Briscoe, who placed third in the high jump in Fayetteville with a mark of 5-8.75, and Briana Nelson who finished fourth place in the 400 with a personal time of 53.31.

Distance runners Betzy Jimenez, Behm, Julie Amthor and Sara Sutherland all plan to compete in the 3,000 in Seattle. Jimenez and Behm will also participate in the 5,000.

Behm feels confident that both meets will go well for the Longhorns.

“We are real tight as a team, we get along really well, and I feel like we all want to perform well,” she said. “We are all really fit this season, and I think we will do well.”

The Longhorns finished 20th on Monday in their first NCAA Championship meet since 2003. Junior Mia Behm led the team, finishing 35th and earning all-American status.

“There were 31 teams and another 50-plus individuals,” said head coach Steve Sisson. “Every one of the people there belong on the starting line.”

The women were coming off a strong win at the South Central Region meet in Waco on Nov. 13. The NCAA Championship meet took place in Terre Haute, Ind., where the women raced for ISU pre-nationals on Oct. 16.

The preparation and overall fitness helped prime the team for the competitive nature of the NCAA Championship meet. Still, not all of the team was able to fully perform at the competitive stage.

“We got ourselves fit enough that even when we have a disappointing day, we are still competitive,” Sisson said. “In the middle of the race, you have to keep your head about you and pick people off. Megan and Mia were able to do so but the rest of the girls had difficulty moving up the field.”

The warm conditions in Terre Haute worked in the team’s favor, but the windy weather and high density of competitors in the race slowed down the runners.

Overall, Sisson was happy with his team’s effort and excited for Behm’s success.

“We are real proud to be a top-20 team in the country, and we are extremely proud of Mia being an all-American,” he said.

The NCAA Championship marks the end of a season-long goal to prove the Longhorns’ talent and worth.

“We are more of a track team than a cross country team, but I am happy with what we accomplished,” Sisson said. “We took the first step in being on the national stage.”

Much of the team’s success in the 2010 season can be credited to Sisson’s solid coaching, leading to a talented young team with determination that runs deep.

“For me, I think the biggest thing is we made it to the national championships and got a feel for it with a very young team,” Sisson said. “The key now is to take this and turn it into something better.” 

Texas heads to the NCAA Championship meet today for the first time since 2002. The Longhorn’s success this season can be credited to all-around efforts from the entire team, but also to a trio of freshmen — Megan Siebert, Marielle Hall and Sara Sutherland.

Texas finished first at the NCAA South Central Regional meet on Nov. 13. Hall was the team’s second finisher, coming in fifth. Sutherland came in ninth and Siebert came in 27th.

“Having a young team definably makes us hungry for success,” Hall said. “I think the whole team has just made the decision to not let our age or experience level deter our success.”

Hall, a New Jersey native, chose to come to Texas because of the coaching staff. Although it can be hard to be so far from home, she feels being on the team has helped ease her transition.

“The team is definitely a big part of why I feel so comfortable here,” Hall said. “They are always fun to be around and just make competing and practicing a good experience.”

Siebert also thinks an overall team camaraderie has contributed to her early success as a Longhorn. She points out the upperclassmen for keeping the young team together.

“I think they have played a big role in keeping us motivated and getting together and doing things and building relationships with each other,” Sibert said.

Mia Behm, a junior runner, says the upperclassmen on the team do make efforts to motivate the freshmen. However, Behm also credits the early success of the freshmen to the team’s relationship and spirit.

“Our team overall is good and it’s because of the freshmen that [head coach] Steve [Sisson] brought in,” Behm said. “The reason they are doing so well in this environment is because they like it here, and I think that sends a message to the people that are looking to go here.”

All of the runners agree that having three freshmen on the lineup has been beneficial this season, and will continue to help the Longhorns in the future.

“Thinking about the future, it’s awesome,” Behm said. “They are this good now and they are only going to get better over the next few years. It’s comforting to know that when I am gone our team will have a solidified future, and it is intimidating for other teams that our team is so young.”

Hall thinks that it is the entire team’s drive that has led to this season’s success.

“It is very exciting to have already made an impact, but I think no one looks at their age as something that should mean they aren’t successful,” Hall said. “Myself and the whole team work hard everyday to be where we are and that’s what is going to give you results on race day, not your age.”  

The 15th-ranked Longhorns finished the Big 12 Championship meet in a disappointing fifth place Saturday.

“The Big 12 is a very competitive league, and if you blink, then someone is going to come and do better,” said assistant coach Stephen Sisson.

Junior runner Mia Behm led the Longhorns, placing 20th with a time of 21 minutes in the 6K. Freshman Megan Siebert finished only five seconds behind. freshman Sara Sutherland, junior Julie Amthor, sophomore Laleh Mojtabaeezamani, senior Allison Mendez and senior Christina Henderson all finished in the top 50.

The Big 12 is one of the strongest conferences in the nation — Texas Tech and Colorado are both in the top 10, and entering the meet, Iowa State was ranked 11th.

“I think it is arguable to say who has the most competitive conference in the country,” Sisson said. “But we are definitely in one of the most competitive conferences.”

Texas Tech won the team title with 44 points. Colorado took second place, posting 53 points, followed by Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

Although the Big 12 meet has no consequences on the team’s future meets, the Longhorns had hoped it would be an opportunity to prove its talent and depth.

“Conference is a different animal; it is almost like it doesn’t fit in the rest of the season,” Sisson said. “It is about the athlete giving back to their school. They have to demonstrate burnt orange blood, what they feel about being at this school and what it means to have a Longhorn on their jersey.”

Although Sisson admitted the meet was a disappointment, he said he still has faith in his team.

“We still believe we are a top 20 team in the country, and we have a group of girls that are going to fight back and go into our region meet very focused, driven and ready to compete.”

The women now focus on the region meet in preparation of the ultimate goal — the NCAA Championships.

“I personally feel very confident for our team,” Behm said. “We are so ready and so fit and we have such amazing talent and such a good bond, and we all want it so badly. There is no way we can’t make it.”

Although Mia Behm has already had two successful years as a Longhorn athlete, the junior from Tyler isn’t focused on her past achievements — she is looking toward new goals.

“There is a lot left for me to try and accomplish,” Behm said. “But I feel like what I have done so far is good because it has given me the confidence to accomplish new goals.”

Both Behm and cross country head coach Steve Sisson say that Behm’s competitive nature and perseverance make her a unique contributor to the 15th-ranked Longhorn team.

“She is not a quiet girl but she brings a quiet intensity to the team,” Sisson said. “She keeps her goals and ambitions to herself and that allows her to keep really focused.”

Behm said a competitive attitude plays a role in every part of her life — from playing the Wii to running a race. Her competitive nature, coupled with her close relationship with her teammates, has helped many of the runners improve. An example of this dynamic is freshman runner Marielle Hall, who has battled with Behm all season for the top spot on the team.

“I enjoy that Marielle is challenging me,” Behm said. “I am competitive, but I’m glad because it is improving both of us.”

Sisson said that Behm has always been an extreme competitor at the team’s meets, but more recently, her spirited attitude has benefited her in practice as well.

The relationship between Behm and Hall has increased the intensity of Behm’s workouts — something Sisson believes will benefit her in the highly competitive meets the team will be facing soon.

“This year I have noticed that Mia and Marielle run side by side, stride by stride almost in every workout,” Sisson said. “What they have done best for each other is to be able to motivate from a training perspective. Mia has never trained as hard as she has this year and that is thanks to Marielle.”

The Longhorns are currently a young team, with many of the top competitors being freshmen. Sisson said this has allowed Behm to step into the leadership role she was meant to fill.
“Mia is quiet in her way of being a leader,” Sisson said. “She brings a consistency, a constancy and a guarantee that she is going to get the job done that the girls can sort of lean on. She has sacrificed and everyone else has to sacrifice.”

Behm, however, credits her teammates for keeping her motivated.

“When you are on a team together and you suffer through pain together you are pretty much required to be friends,” Behm said. “We get along so well, which is something I think we have on other teams.”

Sisson takes some credit for the spirit of camaraderie among his athletes.

“I look for balance, a level of focus and commitment to running but also a fun-loving, positive, almost looseness and confidence that there is in the group of girls,” Sisson said. “Their friendship brings to the table an amazing feel.”

The team is well balanced but also highly competitive. Sisson says each athlete has individual goals, goals that they encourage each other to reach.

Behm hopes this season she will achieve her ultimate goal — becoming an All-American. To accomplish this, a runner must place in the top 40 at the NCAA Championships.

Sisson says he does not typically make goals for individual runners on his team but makes an exception for Behm.

“My basic belief is that Mia is one of the best collegiate runners in the country,” Sisson said. “You will see much better performances from her coming into the Big 12 and regional and national meets — this is the stage that Mia likes.”