Longhorns propelled by recent youth movement

Julie Thompson

Starting college always means new experiences ­— new classes, new home, new friends. For the freshmen Longhorns, however, they knew they already had a support system and group of friends when they started at Texas.

Six of the seven new athletes — A’Lexus Brannon, Shanay Briscoe, Marielle Hall, Briana Nelson, Allison Peter and Danielle Dowie — met previously while competing in the 2009 IAAF World Youth Games in Italy.

Brannon, Briscoe, Hall and Nelson all represented the United States. Dowie represented Jamaica and Peter the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“I think it was the best international trip I’ve been on; everyone just meshed really well,” Briscoe said. “Whenever we came in, I knew everybody. I was excited because I knew when I came here, I knew I was going to already have friends.”

Brannon placed eighth at the World Games in the long jump, Briscoe placed eighth in the high jump, Nelson finished fourth in the 200-meter, and Dowie took home a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles.

“Making the world youth and world junior team was a big deal,” Nelson said. “It was hard to make. It was a really great experience. It was really good because I knew everyone before I got here.”

Now, the freshmen are already contributors to the 18th-ranked Longhorns, who last competed in Houston and Fayetteville, Ark., on Jan. 28. Briscoe placed third in the high jump with a season-best clearance of 1.8-meters in Fayetteville for the Razorback Invitational.

Nelson also posted a season best of 24.13 seconds in the 200-meter race, placing 12th, and also placed fourth in the 400-meter.

Brannon finished 13th in the long jump, and Hall finished 11th in the 800-meter with a time of 2 minutes and 11.36 seconds.

Although having so many young contributors could be considered an issue for the team, members feel that it will actually provide an advantage.

“Everyone is looking to us to see what we are going to do next, and it’s definitely a motivator,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe and Nelson both said competing at a level like the world games prepared them for competition at the collegiate level. Still, it helps to know there are six other women who understand what they are going through. Many of the athletes live together in the dorms and spend much of their time together.

“They are pretty much like my sisters,” Briscoe said. “They are the ones I find myself clinging towards. We are all really close, and we have each others backs no matter what.”