With lights shining bright at Mike A. Myers Stadium and the crowd cheering loudly in the stands, the stage was set for the second day of the 92nd Annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
Athletes from across the nation and the world circled around the track Thursday, sprinting, jumping, falling and everything in between. Some didn’t finish and others may not have had the performances they were expecting. But the lights weren’t too bright for Texas distance runner Alex Rogers — not even close.
When the 3000-meter steeplechase began, Rogers burst from the start line. Surging in front of the competition, he stayed there for the duration of the race, leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else.
“Get around this guy!” an opposing fan yelled at the runner trailing Rogers. “You gotta beat him!”
But the New Braunfels native wasn’t having it. By the last lap, it was clear that Rogers was taking the victory home. A senior this year, his big win was especially sweet.
“It’s a great feeling,” Rogers said. “To come back and (win) it for Texas one more time on my last rodeo feels pretty good. (I’m) very blessed, very lucky.”
Rogers’ control over the race was evident to spectators, but the runner was unaware of just how far ahead he was of the competition. Rather than another person, it was an emotion which propelled him forward.
“Fear said that he was right behind me so I just ran faster, otherwise I would’ve been caught,” Rogers said. “And I didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of everybody.”
Fear did its job. Rogers looked like a pro, posting a personal record in an event he hasn’t run in two years. But his training up to this point has also played a crucial role. Fresh off an upset fall in the 3000-meter run at the NCAA Indoor Championships in early March, the runner transitioned into his outdoor season debut smoothly.
“We barely took any time off, so my fitness has already been at a pretty good level,” Rogers said. “We’re just going to build on top of that ... I mean, it’s only one way to go and that’s up.”
Roger’s victory under the stadium lights at the Texas Relays sets the bar high for a season in which he wants to keep climbing, win big on larger stages and create a legacy for himself and his teammates.
“This (win) is gonna set the tone for myself,” Rogers said. “Hopefully it sets the tone for the younger guys, too. We’re trying to do some pretty cool stuff this outdoor season.”