Sara Sutherland

Men's Tennis

The Texas track and field program competed at both the Razorback Invitational and the Bill Bergan Invitational over the weekend, posting strong results without sending complete squads.

The short-distance women went to Ames, Iowa, for the Bergan Invitational and won each of the four events they entered.

But the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Fayetteville, where senior distance runner Sara Sutherland won the women’s 3,000-meter in convincing fashion with the third-best time in school history.

“[Sutherland] knocked it out of the park,” head coach Mario Sategna said. 

Sutherland led the entire race and finished 18 seconds ahead of second-place teammate, senior Marielle Hall.

Sophomore Zack Bilderback dominated the men’s competition as he won the 400-meter at the Bergan invitational with a personal-best time of 46.98. 

The squad will return to Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

Women's Tennis

The wind persisted throughout Texas’ meeting against Stanford, ultimately blowing in favor of the Cardinal, as the team beat the Longhorns, 6-1.

No. 17 Texas (3-1) came into this match without losing more than one point against its first three opponents.

The Cardinal, ranked No. 1, fared better than that, with no points lost through its first two matches.

Stanford claimed the doubles point with wins by its two top-16 tandems. No. 15 Kristie Ahn/Carol Zhao knocked off No. 21 Breaunna Addison/Pippa Horn, 6-2.

Senior Elizabeth Begley dropped her match at No. 2 singles (6-2, 6-0). Freshmen Neda Koprcina and Horn lost their matches as well, giving Stanford the victory.

Though the match was already decided, freshman Ratnika Batra continued her round against No. 34 Caroline Doyle. Batra prevented a Cardinal sweep with a 6-2, 6-3 win.

The Longhorns will travel to Charlottesville, Va., on Friday to compete in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.

Track and Field

The Texas track and field program competed at both the Razorback Invitational and the Bill Bergan Invitational over the weekend, posting strong results without sending complete squads.

The short-distance women went to Ames, Iowa, for the Bergan invitational and won each of the four events they entered.

But the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Fayetteville, where senior distance runner Sara Sutherland won the women’s 3,000-meter in convincing fashion with the third-best time in school history.

“[Sutherland] knocked it out of the park,” head coach Mario Sategna said in a statement. 

Sutherland led the entire race and finished 18 seconds ahead of second-place teammate, senior Marielle Hall.

Sophomore Zack Bilderback dominated the men’s competition as he won the 400-meter at the Bergan invitational with a personal-best time of 46.98. 

The squad will return to Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

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.

As the clock hit 20 minutes at the Women’s NCAA South Central Regional Championships Friday morning, an eager crowd waited at the 6K finish line. Battling to finish top and qualify for the national championships, burnt orange erupted to the finish line in first and second.

Leading Texas to a second-place finish, juniors Marielle Hall and Sara Sutherland finished first and second, at 20:30.7 and 20:35.3, respectively. Their finishes marked the first Longhorn individual titles at the regional meet, as well as the first time teammates finished in the top two in the meet since 2005. Following senior Laleh Mojtabaeezamani (21:24.5) and junior Megan Siebert (21:30.7) at 13th and 14th, junior Brittany Marches, freshman Kendall Howen and sophomore Jessica Harper finished top 46 of 134 competitors.

“I would love to see us qualify and move on to the NCAA championships,” Sutherland said before the race. “I know the team is capable of that and I am thrilled that we will have the chance to put on our spikes and compete in Fayetteville on Friday.”

Not only did the team qualify, but Hall, Sutherland, Mojtabaeezamani and Siebert earned All-South Central Regional accolades for their performances. Texas (68) will join first-place Arkansas (44) at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday.

Women's Cross Country

Sara Sutherlands work on and off the track give her teammates confidence. She keeps herself balanced to maximize her effectiveness for her teammates and her coach.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

While most students sleep soundly stretched out on mattresses, junior Sara Sutherland and the women’s cross country team have their own 6 a.m. stretch-out on a course or at the Richard Mithoff Track before morning drills. Up and ready for daily practice, Sutherland smiles, focused. Blonde hair swinging side to side behind her, she pushes herself to run just a little faster and tighten her calves just a bit more.

But a few hours after practice closes, Sutherland returns to student life. Working toward government and Spanish degrees, leading freshman Bible study for sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma and “trying not to eat too many cookies,” her athletic commitment never strays far from her mind.

“[My teammates and I] come to practice every single day at 6 a.m. and do all of these things, really trying to prepare and do the best we can as runners and athletes,” Sutherland said. “We want to represent the best that we can and show people that Texas distance is a group of girls that really cares about what they’re doing.”

Sutherland does just that. She led Texas to a win at the Pac 12 Preview Elite Invitational in September, finishing third in the 5K with a time of 17:12. She again placed top three at Austin’s Grass Routes Grand Prix 5K at 18:43.43, and at the Oct. 13 Pre-Nationals Cross Country Meet, Sutherland finished ninth (20:10.7) in the 6K out of more than 250 competitors. Most recently, Sutherland’s third place (20:19.7) at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships marked the highest Longhorn ranking at the meet since 1998.

Ensuring nutrition, hydration and sufficient sleep (although she does admit excessive coffee intake), Sutherland leads a balanced life. But it’s her perspective rather than her actions that put her on top.

“The best way I can be prepared is not to think about [competitions] too much,” Sutherland said. “At the end of the day, it’s a race, and I like to think about these things as being fun. I only get to be a student-athlete for four years of my life. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride, enjoy this time and enjoy being excited about it.”

Although many athletes profess the same excitement before matches, Sutherland’s mindset persists even beyond the finish line.

“It’s not necessarily pertinent to race the way that everybody else races,” Sutherland said. “Rather, that I’m comfortable and I’m working the way that works for me.”

As she runs with her own style, Sutherland inspires teammates to also maximize their physical and psychological strengths as athletes.  

“Sara can always make a competitive and sometimes stressful environment fun and exciting,” junior Marielle Hall said. “Having someone who is constantly working hard to get better and performing at such a great level motivates me and the whole team to contribute our best efforts in practice and on race day.”

Sutherland’s closeness doesn’t just reach her teammates. The girls think the world of coach Stephen Sisson, as well, and hope to win for him.

“It’d be really awesome for Steve to gain that recognition,” Sutherland said. “It sounds kind of ridiculous, because obviously I want to win. But I just think that’d be the coolest thing, because he would be going bananas and I’d be laughing the whole time.”

Watching his girls run and understanding that “at the University of Texas, there’s always pressure,” Sisson recognizes how strong his team’s dynamic is.

“They’ve created a real sense of teamwork, much stronger than I’ve ever experienced in my time here,” Sisson said. “Our [top two] runners in Marielle Hall and Sara Sutherland, being the physical leaders, position themselves in a great place. We have some front running that will inspire and excite a group of six-seven behind them. Seeing our top two girls in the battle for the championships will motivate them as well.”

As this weekend’s NCAA South Central Regional Championships near, competitors feel their nerves start to rise. Not Sutherland, though. She’ll stay calm and collected as she pushes herself to the front.

“It’s funny when people come out to the race and get nervous or get in their own head, because this is why we’re doing it — because we love to compete and love to be out here,” Sutherland said. “Race day is my favorite day. I love coming out here and running, even if it turns out not the way I want. I’m always happy to be here.”

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Sutherland takes on leadership role for Texas

Women's Cross Country

Battling to keep their burnt orange distinct from the surrounding maroon, gold and orange competitors, juniors Sara Sutherland and Marielle Hall finished third (20:19.7) and sixth (20:32.7) at Saturday’s Big 12 Cross Country Championships.

“My goal was to be top three, and I was,” Sutherland, the first Longhorn to finish that high at the meet since 1998, said. “Last year at the Big 12 Championships, I kind of crashed and burned the last [kilometer]. It was good to be able to have that mental image and know that it’s not necessarily pertinent to race the way that everybody else races. I’m comfortable and I’m working the way that works for me.”

Sutherland and Hall’s finishes mark the first time Texas had two top-10 runners at the Big 12s since 2003. Along with teammate Megan Siebert in 15th place, the three juniors received All-Big 12 honors.

As a team, Texas finished third, missing runner-up Oklahoma State’s 81 by just six points. No. 2 Iowa State defended its title with a 34-point finish, with the top two runners and five of the top 15.

“When you look at the piece of paper, it’s a bit disappointing,” assistant coach Stephen Sisson said. “But if you look at each one of the individuals, we had a great performance.”

The Longhorns next compete in the NCAA South Central Regional on Nov. 17.

No. 27 Texas races to the West Coast for the Pac 12 Preview Elite Invitational 5K Friday, Sept. 21. The event will start at 7:40 p.m. CST at Robinson’s Ranch Golf Course, and Texas is ready to start the season with a bang. The Longhorns won four meets last season on the way to a second-place finish in the Big 12 Championships. That tournament’s all-league honors juniors Marielle Hall and Sara Sutherland are anticipating this week’s race.

“[Hall] is a blue-chip caliber athlete,” seventh-year assistant coach Stephen Sisson said. “This year we’re working on balancing her speed element and strength element so she can be successful. She’s a proven conference competitor but one who really wants to take that next step to the upper echelon.”

As her coaches work to balance her racing skills, Hall is already balancing her many commitments. An impressive track record sums up her first two years of eligibility: She holds titles as both the 2011 Big 12 Indoor 1000-meter champion and the UT school record holder for the indoor mile, with a time of 4:43.53 in the distance medley relay. Yet these athletic accomplishments don’t preclude academic excellence. Although Hall devotes long hours to practice, she has still maintained a spot on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll every semester.

Hall joins upperclassmen Laleh Mojtabaeezamani, Anne Jones, Sara Sutherland, Megan Siebert, Jessica Harper and Brittany Marches as leaders for this weekend’s team. Academic sophomores Jenna Read and Marissa Lee step up to the line as well, welcoming classmate Alaina Perez to her first match following a redshirt season. Freshmen Kendall Howen and Claire Andrews complete the lineup. The impressive newcomers finished their high school careers as a 3200-meter track state finalist and all-region cross country honoree, respectively. With the solid lineup, Sisson brims with confidence in his team.

“Believe me, they’re competitive,” Sisson said. “They see the beauty in each other, but they’re competitive enough to take their strengths and keep working to try and become better. They want to beat each other, but they don’t want to beat each other at the expense of the other. They’re learning how to lift each other up.”

Womens Track Weekend Recap

Texas earned a bid to the NCAA Championships with a second-place finish the South Central Regional Championship on Saturday.

“I am very glad that we met our objective of qualifying for the NCAA Championships,” said coach Steve Sisson.
The Longhorns finished second to Arkansas in the 6K race in Waco.

“Arkansas came out and had an amazing day so credit goes to them,” Sisson said.

Texas finished 20 points behind the Razorbacks for second place, ahead of Texas A&M, SMU and Rice.

Two sophomores led Texas, with Sara Sutherland finishing fourth and Marielle Hall finishing seventh.

“I felt like today was a good day for me,” Sutherland said. “I got to run the race with three of my teammates which gives great energy to everyone.”

Megan Siebert, another sophomore, had the third-best time for the Longhorns, with a 13th overall finish.

“I am very happy with Sara’s race,” Sisson said. “She executed a perfect race plan, one that we designed for her. She has become one of the best runners in the country, and we expect great things from her at the national championships. I also thought Marielle and Megan ran solid races.”

Texas had two more runners in the top 25, with seniors Laleh Mojtabaeezamani finishing 22nd and Mia Behm finishing 23rd. Junior Julie Amthor finished 31st, and sophomore Brittany Marches finished 40th.

“We are looking forward to NCAA Championships and an opportunity to improve on last year’s performance and compete with the best in the country,” Sisson said.

The NCAA Championships will take place on Nov. 21 at the Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind.

Printed on Monday, November 14, 2011: Sophomores help team finish second

Men's & Women's Track and Field

Brock Simmons finished second in the men's Olympic Development 5,000-meter run and Sara Sutherland posted the second-fastest time by a Texas athlete since 1988 in the women's 5,000 to finish in third on Thursday at the Penn Relays.

They were the two highest finishes between the pair of Longhorn squads in Philadelphia for the historic meet.

The women's team also qualified in the 1,600-meter relay — the finals take place on Saturday.

On Friday, the women will take part in the sprint medley relay, 6,000-meter relay, discus and high jump. The men face competition in the 400-meter hurdles, shot put, discus and pole vault.

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.”

———

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

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.”