Texas embraces chance to showcase talent, depth

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Elisabeth Dillon

Hurdler Danielle Dowle will participate in the Texas Relays this week. She finished third in the 400m hurdle event last year.

Kristin Otto

To Longhorns coach Beverly Kearney, the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays are much more than a sporting event.

“This is a chance for us to really show off the greatness of our city. Everybody [is] growing to love Texas and to love Austin. This is an event that gives us an opportunity to enjoy it. The Relays have blossomed into the urban music festival and so many other events representing so many other components of our community that it’s grown bigger than just the [meet].”

From today through Saturday, 2,212 participants from 200 university and college teams, 4,179 athletes from 631 different high schools and 136 invitational elites are scheduled to take part in the Texas Relays. In total, the current roster boasts 6,527 entries.

Entering its 85th year, the meet, named after former UT men’s track and field and football coach Clyde Littlefield, has been hosted by the University of Texas in Austin since 1925. However, women were not invited to participate in the Texas Relays until 1963.

At this year’s event, 32 Longhorn women (12 seniors, five juniors, 10 sophomores and five freshmen) are entered on the roster to compete in the meet. The athletes will take on a wide variety of challenges, including seven individual races, three relays, two medleys and six field events.

The first day includes four heptathlon events — the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put and the 200-meter dash.

On Thursday, Angele Cooper, Danielle Dowie and Alicia Peterson will be the first UT women of the Relays to hit the track in the 400-meter hurdles prelims. Texas boasts six runners on the roster for the final event of the night, the 5000-meter run; The group includes Julie Amthor, Marielle Hall, Jessica Harper, Connor Ward, Laleh Mojtabaeezamani and Virginia Simon.

Friday is trisected into primarily preliminary-packed sessions. The morning session includes the prelims for the 4×100 meter relay, the 100-meter hurdles, the 100-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay. Running in some of these events for Texas are first team All-Americans Allison Peter, Dowie, Christy Udoh and Kendra Chambers.

In the field events, senior Jessica Doyle and junior Natasha Masterson will attempt the pole vault and, later in the afternoon, senior Okwukwe Okolie will compete in the Section A discus throw.

The sole collegiate women’s event on Friday is the 1600 sprint medley invitational in which four of five listed Longhorns — Chalonda Goodman, Peter, Chambers, Hall and Chamique Francis — will be selected to close out the day.

The last day of Texas Relays will begin with sophomore Bertha Sencherey competing in the morning session’s discus throw. Saturday’s afternoon session will include field event prelims and finals; notable athletes that will be representing UT are sophomores Shanay Briscoe, first team honors recipient in the high jump, and long-jumper A’Lexus Brannon.