Over 7,000 athletes, from 21 countries and 195 colleges, were in Austin this week for the 91st Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. It was an event that helps signify the arrival of the outdoor track and field season.
Junior Georgia Wahl and redshirt sophomore Virginia Preiss competed for the Longhorns on Wednesday, which was strictly for heptathlon and decathlon events. Preiss was ready from the get-go. Every event she competed in — high jump, shot put, 100-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash — she set a personal record. Outside of the 100-meter hurdles, Preiss recorded a top-15 finish in each of her events.
Preiss’s success came despite the event being delayed three hours due to lightning in the area.
“I think making the meet later in the day actually helped a bit because we practice in the afternoon,” Preiss said of the delay. “It felt more comfortable to be running hurdles at 2 p.m. as opposed to 10 a.m.”
Thursday came with more cooperative weather and with more events. Preiss continued her string of good performances, placing fifth in the 800-meter dash. She finished the heptathlon in 12th place.
Junior Mariam Abdul-Rashid and senior Ariel Jones ran in the 400-meter hurdles, placing fifth and seventh, respectively. In the finals, the two Longhorns placed third and fourth, with Abdul-Rashid finishing 0.18 seconds faster than Jones.
Sophomore Elena Bruckner competed in the hammer throw, epitomizing the term “student-athlete” as she ran to take a test beforehand and then came back to Mike A. Myers Stadium to compete. When she came back, she had a 96 on her exam and a school record in the hammer throw.
The night was capped off with distance events. Junior Gabby Crank and freshman Meghan Rourke came in fourth and ninth, respectively, in the 800-meter dash. Rourke led after the first lap and for a majority of the second, but she ran out of gas and fell to fourth in her heat.
The 3,000-meter steeplechase closed the night. Junior Meghan Lloyd came out of the gate firing. The race quickly became about her and Clemson’s Logan Morris. They were neck and neck until the fifth lap when Lloyd began to separate. But she wasn’t able to keep up the pace as she fell behind on the last quarter of the final lap. Morris overtook Lloyd and came in first, after she had been second to Lloyd the entire race.
“I saw (Morris) was right behind me. I tried to respond, but she was really quick,” Lloyd said. “If I had gone a little sooner, I could’ve held her off.”
Lloyd still beat her mark at the Texas Relays last year by 18 seconds and set a school record by seven seconds.
The next day came with several top-10 finishes from the Longhorn women — Wahl in the triple jump, the 4x100 relay team, redshirt junior Shay Petty in the pole vault and redshirt senior Haley Crouser in the javelin throw.
The Longhorns also dominated in the 100-meter hurdles, as four qualified for the finals. In the finals, sophomore Rushelle Burton won with a time of 12.64 seconds.
The week as a whole featured victories, heartbreaks, records and lessons for the future. The Texas women were able to get a good look at what their top athletes have at this point in the season.