Longhorns falter on Big 12’s center stage

Julie Thompson

The 15th-ranked Longhorns finished the Big 12 Championship meet in a disappointing fifth place Saturday.

“The Big 12 is a very competitive league, and if you blink, then someone is going to come and do better,” said assistant coach Stephen Sisson.

Junior runner Mia Behm led the Longhorns, placing 20th with a time of 21 minutes in the 6K. Freshman Megan Siebert finished only five seconds behind. freshman Sara Sutherland, junior Julie Amthor, sophomore Laleh Mojtabaeezamani, senior Allison Mendez and senior Christina Henderson all finished in the top 50.

The Big 12 is one of the strongest conferences in the nation — Texas Tech and Colorado are both in the top 10, and entering the meet, Iowa State was ranked 11th.

“I think it is arguable to say who has the most competitive conference in the country,” Sisson said. “But we are definitely in one of the most competitive conferences.”

Texas Tech won the team title with 44 points. Colorado took second place, posting 53 points, followed by Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

Although the Big 12 meet has no consequences on the team’s future meets, the Longhorns had hoped it would be an opportunity to prove its talent and depth.

“Conference is a different animal; it is almost like it doesn’t fit in the rest of the season,” Sisson said. “It is about the athlete giving back to their school. They have to demonstrate burnt orange blood, what they feel about being at this school and what it means to have a Longhorn on their jersey.”

Although Sisson admitted the meet was a disappointment, he said he still has faith in his team.

“We still believe we are a top 20 team in the country, and we have a group of girls that are going to fight back and go into our region meet very focused, driven and ready to compete.”

The women now focus on the region meet in preparation of the ultimate goal — the NCAA Championships.

“I personally feel very confident for our team,” Behm said. “We are so ready and so fit and we have such amazing talent and such a good bond, and we all want it so badly. There is no way we can’t make it.”