Entering the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships ranked fifth in the nation, the Longhorn women knew capturing the top spot would take an extraordinary team effort.
At the 4x400-meter relay, the final event of the weekend, the Longhorns hold a once-improbable title within reach. Texas already held the national-record time in the event. All it needed was a victory to best No. 1 Georgia to claim the national championship.
Senior sprinter Briana Nelson, sophomore sprinter Courtney Okolo, freshman sprinter Kendall Baisden and junior sprinter Ashley Spencer ran the event in an NCAA-record time of 3:27.42, but the Oregon Ducks stole the national title with a .02-second advantage at 3:27.40.
“The goal was to come away with a team trophy,” head coach Mario Sategna said in a statement. “But to be second and to get the program on track a little bit is a step in the right direction.”
En route to Texas’ second-place performance, sophomore pole-vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose recorded a collegiate indoor record vault of 15 feet, 1 inch. Senior jumper Shanay Briscoe followed with fifth place in the high jump, clearing 6.5 feet for her fifth First Team All-American honor.
In the 400-meter finals, three Texas runners placed in the same event for just the second time in team history: Spencer (2), Okolo (4) and Baisden (5).
Entering at No. 25, the Longhorn men finished the meet 20th with a team score of 11 points.
Sophomore shot-putter Ryan Crouser, who won the event with a throw of 69 feet, 7 inches, grabbed 10 of those points as he eclipsed the next-best mark by nearly 4 feet. Each of Crouser’s five legal throws landed far enough to win the individual title.
“That was the best series by far that I’ve ever had,” Crouser said in a statement. “Across the board, this was the best meet I’ve ever had.”
Sophomore sprinter Zack Bilderback contributed Texas’ remaining point and earned his first All-American honor with an eighth place finish in the 400 meters with a time of 47.63 seconds.
The outdoor season begins Saturday.