Kally Long

Sophomore Serenity Douglas leads the Texas women's 4x400 relay to a season-best time at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday. The women’s 4x400 relay team won eighth place with a total time of 3:33.06.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Disappointment was the underlying theme over the past two days at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the Longhorn women.

They hadn’t been able to get the amount of competitors in the meet that they wanted in the first place. Then, with the six athletes they had over four events, the women weren't able to get the results that they wanted.

On the first day, Texas had three runners compete. All three competitors were in the top three at the Big 12 Championships. But none of them were able to place higher than 10th in the standings in College Station.

Texas interim head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey was disappointed, but she was less than shocked at the performance.

“The women didn't come in strong at all. The expectation was for them to try and come in and see if we could get somebody in the finals,” Buford-Bailey said. “We weren't successful in that, but like I said, they didn't come in as a strong team from the start.”

With the shortcomings on Friday, the attention and pressure of putting points on the board shifted to senior pole vaulter Kally Long and the 4x400 relay team on Saturday.

Long finished in 13th place in the pole vault with a clearance of 4.21 meters. On her third and final attempt, Long was unable to reach the pole and had to bail early.

“It was kind of a risky move,” Long said. “I actually went up a pole on that last attempt. I ran in guns blazing, which actually messed me up for my takeoff.”

Despite the low finish, Long was still optimistic.

“I’m happy with my performance based on the fact that I injured my arm on Thursday,” Long said. “I’m proud of myself for overcoming the pain each and every jump.”

After Long’s performance, the only event left for the women was the 4x400 relay. The expectations for the team weren't astronomical. They came into the race seeded 16th after the NCAA expanded the group from 12 to 16.

But the relay team was still able to bring a little light to the weekend. Their time of 3:33:06 was good enough to win their heat, which was the first of four, and set a season best. They eventually finished eighth, with USC taking home the crown with a time of 3:27:45. The top-10 finish was the only one of the meet for the Texas women.

Overall, the weekend put a damper on a season that consisted of a Big 12 championship and several personal and school records set. Leaving College Station with only one top-10 finish for the entire weekend is not the way Texas wanted the season to end.

With the indoor season now closed, the focus turns to the outdoor season, which begins March 16 at the UTSA Invitational in San Antonio.

“We’re going to have to regroup for outdoors and make sure we can get on the podium in some events in the outdoor meet,” Buford-Bailey said.

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Longhorn men seeking back-to-back titles for first time since 2008 and 2009

For the 25 members of the Texas men’s track and field team heading to Ames, Iowa, on Friday, the indoor season comes down to this — after winning a year ago, the men will try to defend their Big 12 title in hopes of claiming back-to-back championships for the first time since 2008 and 2009.

And what this Texas squad lacks in experience, it makes up for in depth. The Longhorns have athletes in the top 10 of the Big 12 in 18 out of 20 events.

“The goal is to win both the men’s and women’s titles, and it will take a full-team effort because we are not reliant on one event area to do the heavy lifting,” interim head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “Everyone we are taking to this meet can score points for us, and that’s what we hope to see.”

To do so, the Longhorns will have to go through Texas Tech and TCU, the only two Big 12 teams ranked ahead of Texas in the national standings. Both squads have athletes who have dominated sprints, including Texas Tech freshman Divine Oduduru — who posted the Big 12’s fastest times in the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes.

Long distance running is an area in which Texas can separate from the pack. Freshman Sam Worley has taken a leading role heading into his first Big 12 championship meet, while junior Alex Rogers looks to medal after placing fourth last year in Ames.

Repeating championship seasons is no easy task. Yet this Texas team has put itself in position to give Texas Tech, TCU and the rest of the Big 12 everything they can handle while pursuing a second straight conference title.

Texas women attempt to add to dynasty

A conference championship is on the line this weekend in Ames, Iowa, for the Longhorn women’s track and field team, which is looking to exert its dominance once again at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. If the Longhorns are able to leave Ames as champions, it will be the team’s fourth Big 12 indoor title in the past five years.

Throughout the season, Texas has made notable strides each week. Now, not only do the Longhorns have to continue the trend of improvement, but they also must take their performance to another level in order to recapture the title.

The women’s team performed well at the USATF Championships last week, which weren’t exclusive to collegiate athletes. Graduated athletes and Olympic hopefuls competed as well, and the Texas women gave them a run for their money.

Junior Teahna Daniels set a career mark in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.22 seconds. The goal for her was to get into more races and lower her time after she missed two meets due to the passing of her father. Her time put her at the top of the Big 12’s performance list and No. 8 on the NCAA’s performance list.

“With Teahna, we accomplished exactly what we came to this meet for — one, to get another opportunity to race, which will set her up in a good position for the Big 12s and NCAAs,” Texas interim head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said.

Along with Daniels, competitors such as senior Kally Long, junior Mariam Abdul-Rashid and sophomore Elena Bruckner all are pivotal keys for Texas’ success as the trio are each in the top three of the Big 12’s performance list for their events.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Longhorn men attempt NCAA qualification in final regular season meet

With a week remaining until the Big 12 championship meet, preparation has shifted for the Texas men’s track team. All eyes will be on Ames, Iowa, on Feb. 23.

But while competing at the Alex Wilson Invitational this weekend at Notre Dame, one men’s event will attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time in eight years — the distance medley relay.

With junior Alex Rogers running the 1200, senior Logan Emery in the 400, freshman Micaiah Harris in the 800 and freshman Sam Worley running the anchor-leg 1600, the Longhorns will compete in a meet which annually hosts most of the top distance relay teams in the country.

In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, the group must run one of the top-12 times in the nation. Currently, the 12th best time is set at 9:46.76. But as the most competitive relay teams in the nation come together for this meet, the qualifying time is sure to drop.

For Worley and Harris, two freshmen running the final two legs of a major event, this could very well be the biggest race of their careers up to this point. The experience the two have gained this season, posting dominating times in their respective events, may bode well for this team.

In 2017, five of the 12 teams who qualified for the NCAA Championships qualified in South Bend, Indiana. With this mixed group of rising stars and seasoned veteran runners, Texas is poised to do the same.

Longhorn women hit home stretch of regular season

South Bend, Indiana, is the site of the Longhorn women’s next meet. The Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame is the final meet before the team heads to Ames, Iowa, to compete in the Big 12 Championships.

This season has been a strong one for the Longhorn women’s track and field team, which was ranked No. 5 nationally at the start of the preseason.

With this being the final competition before the NCAA Indoor Championships, certain athletes are in prime positions to solidify themselves a spot in Iowa.

Junior Georgia Wahl sits at No. 5 in the long-jump rankings. She is coming off a performance in which she set a personal record of 6.02 meters.

Senior Kally Long competed against a tough group last week but still stood strong. Her field in the women’s pole vault invitational had six of the top seven NCAA vaulters, including two Olympians. Long proved she belonged with the elite competition, earning her a seventh-place finish. She now sits at No. 12 in the NCAA standings.

Despite the success, the Longhorns will have to focus even harder this week due to the abrupt departure of head coach Mario Sategna. Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte announced late Thursday morning that Sategna has left the program. Associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey was named the interim head coach.