Freshman Ariel Jones runs the Women's 400m hurdles on Thursday afternoon. Jones clocked in at 58.96 seconds, ranking her 4th overall and qualifying her for the 400m hurdles final.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Although the bulk of the meet occurs Friday and Saturday, there have already been a number of event highlights at the 88th annual Nike Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

The highlight of Thursday’s events came when former Longhorn Leo Manzano broke the Texas Relays record in the 800m with a time of 1:46.46.

In the men’s decathlon, freshman Harrison Williams of Stanford holds a narrow lead at the top of the leaderboard. Texas sophomore Wolf Mahler opened the event with a personal record in the 100m in a time of 10.52 seconds.

On the women’s side, the heptathlon has been the premiere event of the meet with Arkansas’ Alex Gochenour leading the pack. After producing solid results in each of her events, she looks to hold her lead to ultimately be named heptathlon champion.

Friday morning represents the first test for many college and high school runners, as the track events will kick off with preliminary and qualifying races throughout the morning. At the same time as the morning preliminaries are the finals for field participants in the college ranks.

In the afternoon, the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles begin as one of the main events of the relays, while on Saturday, the day starts early with the high school 3200m and closes with the 1600m relays.

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

On Wednesday, Texas will host one of track and field’s biggest weekends.

Athletes ranging from high school freshmen to Olympic medalists will come to Austin this week for the Nike Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, which begin Wednesday and run through Saturday. A total of 6,625 athletes from 34 states and eight countries are set to compete.

Texas, which had a strong showing in last year’s events, looks to build momentum heading into their outdoor season. Ryan Crouser and Courtney Okolo will lead the Longhorns, and both are finalists for the Bowerman Award, given to the best man and woman athlete in collegiate track and field. Texas’ pole vault specialist junior Kaitlin Petrillose, 2013 NCAA decathlon champion junior Johannes Hock, junior Morolake Akinosun and sophomore Kendall Baisden will also compete for Texas.

Former Texas star Trey Hardee will also return to Austin for the event. His talents will be on display as he looks to the decathlon in hopes of securing another title in his record book. Hardee, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, also won an NCAA Championship with Texas in 2005 in the decathlon.

Other Olympians, including Chelsea Hayes (2012 Olympian in the long jump), Antoine Adams (2012 Olympian in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m), and Amy Acuff (five-time Olympian), will use the event as a warm-up for the national stage.

The four-day event kicks off Wednesday morning with the college decathlon and heptathlon and runs through Saturday night’s finale, in which the 4x400m will finish the events at Mike A. Myers Stadium. The races will be aired on the Longhorn Network.

Longhorns track and field sophmore decathlete Johannes Hock during the decathlon shot put at the NCAA track and field championships on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowner | Daily Texan Staff

Heading into Day 2 of the NCAA Track & Field Championships, it appeared as if Longhorn sophomore Johannes Hock would win his second decathlon title. With only one event — the 1,500 meter run — remaining, Hock held a small lead of 23 points. But Hock saw his chances at winning dissapear after finishing 12th in the 1,500.

"He'll walk away from here feeling defeated, but the decathlon is a different beast," Texas head coach Mario Sategna said. “He went into the 1,500 — not one of his strong points — in the lead. He gave it a shot for three laps and kind of fell off the pace at the end.”
The Longhorn women continued a solid qualifying effort. Three Texas runners advanced to a finals event Thursday.
Sophomore Morolake Akinosun was able to advance to her third final at the championships with a victory in her 100-meter heat.
The women’s 4x400 meter relay team was able to advance to finals with a top time of 3 minutes and 28 seconds.
The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship continues Friday.

Isaac Murphy finishes decathlon campaign with third-place finish

Texas Relays action kicked off Thursday with the second half of the decathlon. Senior Isaac Murphy had a great start, taking fourth  place in the 400-meter hurdles and following that up with a second place finish in the discus, but finished third in the standings when all was said and done.

Curtis Beach of Duke and Murphy stayed neck-and-neck through the first seven events in the decathlon, but Murphy was unable to overcome a 137-point gap that Beach created with a win the pole vault.

Although Beach — and Murphy — showed some weaknesses in the javelin that allowed Romain Martin to leapfrog them into first place, the lead over Murphy once again exploded into 253 points after Beach’s best event — the 1500 meter run.

Part of the blame for the performance has to go to the layoff Murphy experienced in the indoor season due to his expired eligibility.

“I’m not as sharp as I was last year at this time, but that’s the plan; I want to be sharp in June.” Murphy said, “I’ve got a long time to go back to the chalkboard and work."

Though he could be forgiven for moping around after falling into third and failing to repeat as Texas Relays decathlon champion, Murphy is pleased with his performance with in the event.

“I feel good. I got a score that will get me into nationals.” Murphy said, “[I can] keep on moving with my season. I feel great

Junior Jake Wohlford, who also competed in the decathlon, wound up in 14th place.

The decathlon kicked off the Texas Relays Wednesday and athletes are already starting to separate themselves from the pack at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Senior decathlete Isaac Murphy opened up his decathlon campaign by scorching the rest of the field, winning the 100-meter dash. Clocking in at 10.48 seconds, he only missed matching his personal best by milliseconds. While his performance sputtered, with a seventh place finish in the long jump and a 12th place finish in the high jump, he certainly showed he has the ability to once again lift the decathlon trophy after a big win in the 2012 Texas Relays. He currently holds onto third place, but that should change with his second day performance.

“I feel good I’ve got some events I’m looking forward to coming up tomorrow.” Murphy said, “I’m gonna keep on doing my best and see where I end up.”

Junior Jake Wohlford, who also competed in the event ended up in 11th place after the first day of competition and will have to improve his performance greatly if he hopes to reach the podium.

Notably absent from the Texas Relays was freshman and Big 12 heptathlon champion Johannes Hock, who was rested for the event due to burnout after competing in back-to-back heptathlon events in the indoor season. He will compete later on in the outdoor season.

The Texas Relays continue Thursday with the second day of the decathlon competition, along with a collection of field events, including the hammer throw, javelin, and pole vault. An evening session of running events will follow and close out Thursday. The meet will run through Saturday.

Olympian and former Longhorn Trey Hardee demonstrates a discus throw to Formula 1 driver Mark Webber at Mike Myers stadium.  

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Coming within inches of your greatest dream only to see it slip away can lead someone to dark and lonely places. Fortunately Trey Hardee, a decathlete and Texas alumnus, took his crushing fourth-place finish in the decathlon during the 2008 Olympics as a source of inspiration for the future.

Born in 1984 in Birmingham, Ala., Hardee has been no stranger to fighting through adversity. In 2002 he enrolled at Mississippi State on a pole vault scholarship. It was there that coaches noticed Hardee’s 6-foot-5 frame, strength and speed — attributes needed to be a decathlete. In 2004 Mississippi State dropped its indoor track team, shaking Hardee’s career and forcing him to transfer.

“There was a whole tornado of reasons why I ended up in Austin,” Hardee said Wednesday at Mike A. Myers Stadium. “I was really happy at Mississippi State. I loved it there. [I] had a lot of friends there, loved my coaches. One of my coaches decided to leave, and there was a little uncertainty about what would happen. And then they dropped the men’s indoor program, so there were just a lot of things that led to me wanting to take a look elsewhere to see what else was out there. I took one trip to Texas, and that was all it took.”

Hardee began his career at Texas in barn-burning fashion. In 2005 he finished third in the decathlon at the NCAA Championships, but 2006 brought more hardships for Hardee.

“I was really upset in 2006 when I didn’t win the national championship for Texas. That was a big one,” Hardee said. “That was well within my control, but I didn’t have experience on how to handle it. That one still stands out in my mind.”

Even through the disappointment of 2006, Hardee went on to qualify for the U.S. men’s national team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After staying in contention for a medal through nearly the entire competition, it was his “no-height” score in the pole vault — the event Hardee was originally awarded a scholarship for — that cost him a medal and landed him in fourth place before he dropped out.

“Beijing was tough,” Hardee said. “It sucked and it was a personal setback, but I was really blessed to have the coaches that I have and the teammates that I have. It was tough, but I grew from it.”

The season after the Beijing debacle, Hardee went on to win his first world title and would later be awarded the Jim Thorpe All-Around Award by the United States Sports Academy. Hardee continued to have success until he tried his luck at the London Olympics this past summer.

“In London I was kind of playing with house money,” Hardee said. “I was worried about the Tommy John surgery I’d had the September before, and I was just trying to be as positive as I could. Just making the team and being able to be there considering the circumstances in my elbow was the goal for the year. We felt like if we made it we could go to London and maybe have a chance.”

Hardee proved to have more than just a chance in London, winning the silver medal behind fellow American Ashton Eaton, who took the gold. Hardee finally won the elusive Olympic medal he was so close to capturing in Beijing.

“I was shocked, honored and blessed,” Hardee said. “I really don’t think I’ve processed it yet.”  

Printed on November 16, 2012 as: Olympic decathlete inspires with story

Men's Track

Isaac Murphy took first place after the Decathalon came to its conclusion at the Texas Relays.

The multi-event athletes kicked off day two of the Texas Relays with the remaining events in the Men’s Decathlon.

It was Texas’ own Isaac Murphy who walked off the track victorious, breaking the 8,000 point barrier with a total of 8,067 points. He set or matched personal records in seven of the 10 events, joining former UT decathletes Trey Hardee and Aaron Fox as decathlon champions at the relays.
The two remaining Longhorns finished well within the top half of the 21 competitors. Petter Olson came in fifth with 7,857 and Kenny Greaves in seventh with 7,400 points.

It took a journey to get there.

Beginning with the running events, the athletes shot out of the blocks and set the track ablaze in the 110-meter hurdles in hopes of separating themselves early on in the competition.

Texas’ Murphy and Olson were among the top five. The top time in the event was awarded to Jake Wohlford with a time of 14.24. Idaho’s Andrew Blaser took second place, while Murphy and Olson finished third and fourth.

Next up, the men transitioned their focus from speed to brute power in the discus throw. In yesterday’s 400-meter dash, unattached competitor Wesley Bray ousted Texas’ Murphy by a hair. And he did it again — only this time by mere centimeters instead of seconds.

Bray’s toss of 41.75 meters earned him second place behind Notre Dame junior Ted Glasnow. Murphy finished third with a heave of 41.71 meters. The remaining Longhorns, Greaves and Olson weren’t able to pick up the pieces after fouling two throws apiece — ultimately finishing 10th and 14th respectively.

But Greaves was able to do what any decathlete does best: leave the former event behind and push on to the next one. And his positive mental focus proved to be the driving force behind his top jump of 16-08.75 in the pole vault. Greaves shares the first place vault with junior Heath Nickles of Ohio State.

Murphy’s height of 16-00.75 put him in fourth, just one competitor ahead of Olson who cleared 15-09.00 for sixth.

The competitors kept the throwing mentality as the men’s javelin throw brought on a new challenge. Boise State’s Kurt Felix dominated the event and jumped up a spot in the leader board into third place with his winning mark of 69.89 meters. The second and third place throws by Wesley Bray and Romain Martin of UT-Arlington, were eight meters shy of Felix.

And as the climax of the decathlon came to a close, it was senior Thomas FitzSimons of Mount St. Mary’s who sped past the finish line first in the 1500-meter run with a time of 4:13.41. But the Longhorn trio of Greaves, Olson and Murphy followed in close pursuit taking 2-3-4. Seven seconds separated Greaves and Murphy coming in at 4:21.31 and 4:28.44. Olson finished in the middle of the two at 4.27:57.

The action-packed events of the Texas Relays will only continue to heat up as finals draw near.

Day three of the Relays will begin today at 9:30 a.m. with the women’s 4x100-meter relay preliminaries and javelin throw. The Division I and II high school boys and girls will conclude Friday’s evening session with the 4x400-meter relay scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Schools from around the country began competition in the 85th annual Clyde Littlefield Relays on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Cloudy skies and spotted showers didn’t dampen the spirits of Texas’ three decathletes competing in Wednesday’s opening events of the 85th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.

Junior Isaac Murphy, freshman Petter Olson and senior Kenny Greaves set the bar high for the Longhorns with three full days of competition remaining. The trio is currently ranked among the top 14 of 21 spots filling the decathlon leaderboard.

In this grueling 10-event competition, continuous mental focus and precise execution is crucial. And Texas’ Murphy seems to be embracing that challenge. He is currently in second place with 4,192 points, trailing only Boise State’s Kurt Felix.

“It feels pretty good,” said Felix. “It is my first time doing the event in a while, yet I came out with a pretty good start. I have to stay consistent. Hopefully there will be a new personal best.”

For Murphy, those were fighting words. Murphy was able to knock out four personal bests for the second straight year, this time in the 400-meter dash, long jump, shot put and high jump.

And ironically, fate had it that he would match his personal best in the 100-meter dash with a first place time of 10.47. The closest in stride was a 10.81 by Texas’own Jake Wohlford, who is running unattached and representing himself. Olson clocked in a 10.90 for fifth place, followed by Felix in 10th and Greaves farther down the pack in 19th place.

The battle between Felix and Murphy became heated as the two long jumpers finished with leaps of 7.74 and 7.53 meters — allowing Felix to take the top spot. But for Olson and Greaves, a couple of unintended fouls pushed away their chances of performing as well as they had hoped. Olson finished ninth with a jump of 7.12 meters and Greaves in 22nd place at 6.50.

Olson’s chance at redemption came next in the men’s shot put. Olson, Felix and Murphy claimed 2-3-4 in the event, with Olson on top of Felix and the Texas bunch for the first time. But it was Houston’s Bray Wesley who heaved the farthest throw of 13.99 meters.

UT-Arlington’s Romain Martin cleared the winning height of 2.05 meters in the men’s high jump. Felix was able to finish out strong with the next best jump of 2.02 meters. The fifth place spot was shared between Olson, Greaves and Wohlford and five other competitors, all with heights of 1.90 meters. Murphy and three other men followed close behind with jumps of 1.87 meters, finishing in 13th place.

In the final event of the day, Murphy went on to take second in the 400-meter dash. Curtis Beach from Duke was able to maintain the few steps needed to push ahead of Murphy for the win. Murphy finished just two-tenths of a second behind Beach with a 48.01. The remaining Longhorns, Olson and Greaves were able to place among the top 10 in the event, finishing third and eighth, respectively.

The five remaining events in the decathlon will kick off today beginning with the men’s 110-meter hurdles at 11 a.m. The evening session will begin with the university/college 1500-meter run, undoubtedly the decathletes’ most anticipated event and final opportunity to make their time at Texas Relays unforgettable.

Printed on Thursday, March 29, 2012 as: Day one in the books at Relays