Freshmen contribute as Texas takes first in season opener

Julie Thompson

The Longhorns took first in five events en route to winning the season-opening Leonard Hilton Memorial meet on Friday night. The team competed against Rice, Houston, UT-San Antonio and Louisiana Tech.

The Longhorns finished with 177 points, while Rice had 81.5, Houston 81, UTSA 74 and Louisiana Tech 72.

Eight of the Texas women posted personal bests, and freshmen including Christy Udoh, Shanay Briscoe, A’Lexus Brannon and Jessica Harper helped add to the team’s total.

“I think the freshmen really made a difference in the overall team,” said Texas head coach Beverly Kearney. “There wasn’t one that stood out; they all did a really good job.”

Texas took the top two spots in both the mile relay and the distance medley relay.

Sophomore Alicia Peterson, junior Angele Cooper, junior Stacey-Ann Smith and senior Chantel Malone finished in 3:42.21 for first place in the mile. Red-shirt senior Betzy Jimenez, freshman Marielle Hall, junior Julie Amthor and freshman Mia Behm won the distance medley with a time of 11:49.52.

The Longhorns also had podium finishes in the high jump and long jump. Victoria Lucas won the high jump after clearing 5-9.25, and Shanay Briscoe placed third. Senior all-American Chantel Malone finished third in the long jump.

In distance events, Jimenez won the mile in 4:47.40, and Behm finished third with 4:51.56.

Senior Jenna Cuellar finished the 800-meter in third place with a time of 2:16.29, followed by sophomore Katie Hoaldridge in sixth, junior Anne Jones in seventh and freshman Jessica Harper in ninth.

Kearney was pleased with the team’s overall efforts and progress.

“I really thought we had a good meet,” she said. “We found some things that we really need to work on and found some things that we did really good on.”

This coming weekend, the Longhorns will split up and compete at separate meets. One group will head to the Razorback Invitational in Fayettville, Ark., and the remaining team members will compete at the Houston All-Comer’s meet.

“Overall, I think we are moving in a really good direction,” Kearney said.