Relays cap with unforgettable finish


The curtain closed on the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on Saturday. 

The meet, which brought together hundreds of qualified athletes from all stages of their careers, from Olympians such as Trey Hardee and Darvis Patton to high school athletes getting their first taste of real competition, came and left almost as fast as the athletes running their hearts out on the track.

Six victories were added to the men’s team already lengthy resume once all was said and done. The long distance team was especially dominant on their home turf, accounting for four of the six victories the Longhorns brought home.

The talk of Thursday’s day of action was an event new to the Texas Relays — the 10,000-meter run. The Longhorns, who held the top five finishes in the event, ruled the first running of the event. The field was led by junior Ryan Dohner (29:34.34), who now holds the top time in the nation this season. He was followed by Craig Lutz(29:39.22), Daniel Vertiz (29:55.62), Rory Tunningley (30:07.35) and Mark Pinales (30:08.09).

“The guys did really good this year,” Dohner said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had that many guys so close to each other in terms of fitness.”

The distance runners’ dominance didn’t stop there, as the rest of the long distance runners stepped in and earned wins in the distance medley relay, the 4x1,500-meter relay and the 4x800-meter relay.

Sophomore Ryan Crouser’s 67-and-a-half-foot (20.43 m) throw in the shot put easily beat the competition and had Texas record writers scrambling, as it now stands fifth in the all-time performance list. The win was especially important as it was his first real action since a long injury layoff.

“I’ve had this day marked on my calendar for a long time.” Crouser said, “Your first meet [back from injury] can really decide a lot for how the season goes.”

The final win for the men’s team came from senior Jarard Bruner in section B of the triple jump.

After a fairly uneventful first two days at the relays, the women’s team exploded out of the gates Friday and Saturday.

A hot start by the 4x100-meter relay team Friday morning in the preliminaries began a solid last two days for the Longhorns. The quartet of juniors Christy Udoh, Chalonda Goodman and Danielle Dowie along with sophomore Morgan Snow ended up snatching a second-place finish in the finals Saturday with a time of 43.59. 

The squad only fell short to Texas A&M, which tied its own Texas Relays record with a 42.56 mark.

Star performances of the meet came from incredible showings in both the 400-meter hurdles and the 4x200-meter dash.

Domination defined the performance Danielle Dowie had in the 4X100-meter hurdles on Friday. The three-time All-America rounded the track fiercely ahead of her competition and earned herself the first-place finish. With a time of 56.58 seconds, Dowie’s mark now ranks as the nation’s top time in the event.

“From my freshman year I made up in my mind that I was going to win my junior year,” said Dowie. “I’m really happy with what I did.”

On Saturday, the 4x200-meter team also beat out their field and were able to clock a 1:32.37 and edge out second-place Texas A&M by .25 seconds. With an elite 200-meter runner in Udoh, along with three other solid sprinters in Goodman, Courtney Okolo and Kiersten Duncan, the group has was it takes to keep the victories rolling this outdoor season.

Overall, the women qualified for the finals in every relay competition during this year’s Texas Relays and placed among the top three in each event.

With the end of another memorable Texas Relays, Austin will now set its sights on hosting the Texas Invitational on April 13. Until then, the men’s team will head to Tuscon, Ariz., this weekend to compete in the Jim Click Shootout while the women will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for the Florida Relays.