COLLEGE STATION—After taking fifth place in the preliminary round of the 60-meter hurdles on Friday, freshman Rushelle Burton once again found herself in uncharted territory: the final round of the NCAA Indoor Championship.
“Coming from Jamaica, she had never stepped foot in an indoor facility before (this season),” head coach Mario Sategna said. “To come out here as a true freshman, make the final, and be right there in the mix, she’s got a very bright future, there’s no doubt.”
Burton’s time of 8.04 seconds on day one was enough to qualify for the final race on day two. On Saturday, Burton broke her personal record, crossing the finish line in 8.02 seconds and taking fifth place again. The Longhorn women finished 25th as a team while the men finished ninth.
“I feel pretty good, I got a new (personal best), so I’m really happy about that,” Burton said of her performance. “(The competition is) tough, but I learned today that I am just as tough as them.”
Burton’s toughness continued to catch her coaching staff’s eye.
“I was really proud of Rushelle,” associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “Really stepping it up, going to the finals, scoring for the team, I was really impressed with that.”
Burton wasn’t the only newcomer to perform well for the Longhorns. Freshman O’Brien Wasome made his national debut as the No. 5 ranked triple jumper.
After jumping a lifetime-record 16.49-meter on his second attempt, Wasome ended up taking third place in the event.
“I’ve very pleased, I’ve been out for a while, so it feels good to come in third,” Wasome said. “(Coach Seth Henson) just told me to be myself and to do what I can do, and I got it.”
Many Texas veterans were also able to come up big for the team. Despite placing at No. 15 after the first four events on Friday, Wolf Mahler, redshirt junior, climbed his way up to the No. 7 spot on Saturday.
Mahler literally ran away with the 1000-meter portion of the event, finishing in 2:34.15, which was 2.77 seconds faster than the second place runner.
“For me it’s not really about looking at the points, it’s about doing my best at each event,” Mahler said. “I didn’t leave anything on the table, so I’m really proud of that effort, a fight to the end.”
In the preliminary round, senior Senoj-Jay Givans found himself alone in an eight-man race. After two false start calls, both athletes beside Givans were pulled from the 60-meter dash. Despite the odd circumstances, Givans qualified for the final round, finishing in eighth place with a time of 6.63 seconds.
In the final race, Givans tied his season-best time of 6.59 seconds, moving up to the No. 4 spot, but felt that he had more to give in his final indoor race.
“At the start, that first 20 meters, sometimes that can be the race,” Sategna said. “Definitely, I know Senoj-Jay wanted a little bit more.”
The Longhorns will not get much time to rest as their outdoor season begins at the UTSA Invitational on March 17.