After an impressive showing at preliminaries in which 23 Longhorns qualified for nationals, the stage was set for Texas to put on a show at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. However, the magnitude of the meet appeared to get the better of many Texas athletes.
The men kicked things off Wednesday in the 4x100-meter relay semifinals. The team, made up of seniors Carlton Anumnu, Aldrich Bailey Jr., Charles Anumnu, and Senoj-Jay Givans, dashed their way to a 38.68-second finish, knocking off the previous school record by half a second.
“Those four men have wanted that record for a few years now,” assistant coach Zach Glavash said. “They had been so close on many occasions, and finally lined it up.”
But despite a strong start from the relay team, many Longhorns found it difficult to follow suit.
The biggest upset of the day came in the 400-meter hurdles, as senior Byron Robinson entered with the No. 1 time in the country. However, in his semifinal race, Robinson clipped his last hurdle and stumbled. Unable to make up lost ground, Robinson took 10th place with a time of 49.78 seconds. He did not move on to the final round.
“I’m not mad or disappointed in Byron not making the final,” head coach Mario Sategna said. “I know every time he steps on the track he’s going to give it his best. He’s going to be one of the top 400 hurdlers representing the United States for many years to come.”
Givans was the lone Longhorn to advance to the finals in an individual event from the men’s team. He finished seventh in the 100 meters and sixth in the 200 meters, earning First Team All-American status in both events. Combined with the relay team, Texas scored enough points to place 26th as a men’s team.
The women’s team fared far better than the men. Seven of the 11 athletes that entered the meet advanced to the final round and earned First Team All-American status.
Underclassmen Teahna Daniels and Rushelle Burton both came in third place in their individual events. Daniels, a sophomore, ran a personal best time of 11.06 seconds in the 100. Burton’s 12.65-second finish in the 100-meter hurdles ranks as the fastest time in history for a freshman in the event.
“Every single person that stepped on the track gave their all,” associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “Today, I feel like it was just gutsy, gutsy performances all around.”
Senior Chrisann Gordon as the only Longhorn to win an individual event. On Thursday, she broke the semifinal record in the 400, posting a time of 50.39 seconds. She followed it up on Saturday by beating out Miami’s Shakima Wimbley in the finals.
After entering the Outdoor Championships with hopes of finishing in the top five of both the men’s and women’s categories, Texas ended its season short of expectations. Eugene wasn’t kind to the Longhorns, who now face a long offseason ahead.
“We’ll look to regroup. It goes without saying based on some of the great things we had happen, I felt like we didn’t capitalize on some things,” Sategna said. “That’s track and field. It’s not going to always go your way.”