Morolake Akinosun

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.”

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

In the midst of what has already been a solid season, the Texas women’s track and field program produced another strong showing this weekend at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. 

With three meet wins and a multitude of other medals, the Texas women represented the Longhorns with a list of accolades in country’s top track meets.  

Sophomore distance runner Sandie Raines finished second in the open 1500 meters with a time of 4:20.63, beating out many professionals along the way, to start Texas’ day Saturday. Along with Raines, freshmen Caitland Smith and Shania Collins each took home medals as well, finishing second and third, respectively, in the women’s open 200 meters.

But junior Morolake Akinosun turned in the highlight of the Longhorns’ performance over the weekend. Akinosun, who was named the Texas Relays’ most outstanding college performer, was in three of the four first-place events for Texas, with senior Ryan Crouser collecting the other win for Texas.

The first win came down to a close finish in the 4x100-meter race. The team of senior Morgan Snow, senior Ashley Spencer, junior Courtney Okolo, and Akinosun trailed Texas A&M out of lane five throughout the race — until Akinosun got her shot. With the last handoff, Akinosun grabbed the baton and overtook A&M sophomore Aaliyah Brown, achieving victory by less than two tenths of a second.

In the 100 meters, Akinosun took care of business by herself, clocking a blazing 10.94 seconds, albeit with the help of a 5.1m/s wind. 

To close out the Texas Relays, the 4x400-meter relay, now named the Sanya Richards-Ross Invitational 4x400 Meter Relay, also came down to a close finish. Texas A&M got out to a large lead early on, but in the final lap, A&M’s anchor quickly fell off, giving way to the rest of the field. Florida made the early push and Arkansas came close, but Texas freshman Ariel Jones pushed her way to the front of the pack. She edged out the Gators, claiming a victory for Texas. 

The No. 3 women’s team and the rest of the Longhorns now head into next week’s meet at Stanford with strong momentum.

Check out our slideshow from this year's Texas Relays now:

Junior sprinter Morolake Akinoson and the Texas women’s 4x400-meter team are headed to the indoor NCAA Championships hoping to make up for a last-second defeat last year.
Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

On a cloudy day at Mike A. Myers Stadium earlier this week, the Texas women’s 4x400-meter team laughed as they leisurely jogged off the track, sweat drenching their burnt orange warmups. 

Despite their calmness, just a three-hour plane ride separates the nation’s top-4x400-meter team from the stress of the indoor NCAA Championships, the crown jewel of college indoor track and field. 

However, to the sprinters, composed of juniors Morolake Akinosun and Courtney Okolo, sophomore Kendall Baisden and senior Ashley Spencer, it’s just another track meet. 

“When you have some of the best 400-meter talent in the country — if not the world — what’s to be nervous about?” Spencer said. 

The Longhorns have been in this situation before, however, coming out on the losing end. Last year at the women’s championship meet, Texas held a 1.5-point lead over Oregon, and the last race, the 4x400-meter, of the meet held the title.

Coming down to a photo finish, the Ducks edged out the Longhorns by a beak. 

Oregon recorded the fastest 4x400-meter time in collegiate history; Texas recorded the second-fastest. But the Longhorns’ loss, coming at two-tenths of a second, propelled Oregon past Texas, giving them the women’s title by half a point. 

“[We have] so much fire and energy from what happened [last year],” Akinosun said. “We’re ready to use that and go out and compete this weekend. Sure, on paper, we’re ranked first in our event and fifth in the country, but you don’t run the race on paper”.

Okolo, a Bowerman hopeful, believes their experience last year and in other indoor meets this season will only help the team this year. 

“We were really close last year, but, this year, we’re more experienced,” Okolo said. “We’ve been on the national stage together, so now we know what it takes.”  

This is the first full season Akinosun, Okolo, Baison and Spencer have been together on the 4x400-meter team at the national level. Although the group ran together last season, Akinosun didn’t compete in the championship meet. 

“We know each other, and we want to win this with each other and for each other,” Okolo said. 

The strong chemistry between the foursome has only helped their success. 

They even keep up each other’s superstitions. Akinosun has had two batons since her senior year of high school that she has never let touch the ground. 

“There are a lot of times when you’re a head coach, and you stand back in awe,” head coach Mario Sategna said. “These girls provide one of those times. They push each other to the max, and it’s fun to watch.”