Regular outdoor season starts with Florida Relays

Kristin Otto

UT athletes are scheduled to take part in the 73-year-old tradition of the Florida Relays this weekend.

Once considered to be the first prominent collegiate track and field meet of the outdoor season, the Florida Relays have experienced a series of transitions. In 2007, the meet — which was, at the time, a four-day affair held at the end of March — was tailored to a two-day event and was moved to the first weekend in April.

From April 6 to 7, thousands of men and women will convene at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville to go head-to-head in numerous high school, collegiate and open track and field trials.

Although participants in the University and Invite divisions represent over one hundred schools across the country, the only athletes from a school in the Lone Star State scheduled to compete in the meet are 16 Longhorns.

The Florida Relays will commence at Percy Beard Track with high school events this morning. The first Texas athlete will take the field at noon. After placing in the middle of the pack last weekend, junior Akua Sencherey will try to set the standards high from the get-go in the Discus Throw.

While she is a 60-meter hurdler during the indoor season, freshman Morgan Snow will be the sole runner for UT in the 100-meter hurdles — the first University event of the meet. Snow, the only Longhorn to compete in the event so far this season, finished 14th at the Texas Relays with the fastest time by any freshman.

In the 400-meter dash, sophomore Briana Nelson — who ran anchor in Saturday’s victorious 4×400-meter relay team — will look to reinforce her reign as Texas’ fastest 400-meter runner, a title she earned in last year’s outdoor season with a time of 52.69. Joining Nelson will be senior Stacey-Ann Smith and junior Alicia Peterson who, despite competing last weekend in the 400-meter hurdles and the high jump, has yet to run the race outdoors this year.

At 3 p.m., Texas’ participation in the meet will shift focus to field events, starting with the pole vault. While Natasha Masterson will attempt to raise herself high enough to trump her freshman-year personal best of 4.20 meters, just two inches short of the all-time school record, senior Jessica Doyle will need to focus on recovering from her last-place performance at the Texas Relays.

After Shanay Briscoe and Victoria Lucas shared an average 1.81-meter mark and Beverly Owoyele landed in a three-way tie for last place last Saturday, the UT trio will undoubtedly be on a quest to prove their potential in the outdoor high jump.

The last running event of the Florida Relays for UT will be the 200-meter Invite at 5:35 p.m. on Friday. Christy Udoh, Allison Peter and Chalonda Goodman — the Longhorns who are scheduled to compete in the event — also ran legs for the Texas team in Saturday’s 4×200-meter relay finals, a race in which UT was held to second-place due to a botched baton exchange.

Amanda Van Dyke is the only Longhorn on Saturday’s meet roster. Following her final heave for 15.28 meters last Saturday, the senior will be aiming to begin her last outdoor season at Texas with a mark closer to her personal record of 15.77 meters in the Shot Put Invite.