Distance runners look to rebound at Relays, others aim to start strong at Invite

Kristin Otto

The Longhorn distance runners had a rocky start on Thursday at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

The outcome of the first event that kicked off the 54th year of the relays was an all-around letdown. Going into the meet, 160 runners were listed on the roster for the university/open 1500-meter. Of the three UT runners originally entered in the race, one did not compete and one failed to cross the finish line.

The only Longhorn, Julie Amthor, whose name did make the race’s results list had a disappointing performance. Only five days following her season-best and top collegiate finish in the 1500-meter at the Texas Invitational, the junior tacked on over seven seconds to her time, landing her on the cusp of the bottom quarter of final ranks.

In the open 3000-meter steeplechase, Brittany Marches was able to breathe a little life into the Longhorn squad, improving her Texas Relays time by more than 13 seconds. Nonetheless, compared to the competition, her finish was mediocre, taking ninth out of 19 athletes.

Participating in the event for the first time this year, senior Laleh Mojtabaeezamani closed out last night with another ninth-place finish for UT in the Olympic development elite 10000-meter run.

Lead by middle and long distance coach Stephen Sisson, four Texas athletes will attempt to prove UT’s above-average abilities in distance events on day two of the Mt. SAC Relays.

At 2:25 p.m., Katie Hoaldridge will start the day for the Longhorns with the open 800-meter.

Two of UT’s finest, sophomores Sara Sutherland and Marielle Hall, will strive to make Texas’ presence known in California, competing alongside each other in the Olympic development elite division of the 5000-meter.

The last Longhorn to take the track at the Mt. SAC Relays will be Jessica Harper, who is also competing in a section of the 5-kilomenter run.

Although Harper’s performance late tonight will conclude the competition week for Texas distance runners, approximately two dozen women will be gearing up for Saturday’s Longhorn Invitational in Austin.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m., they will take on competitors from the University of Houston, McMurry University and UTSA. A handful of pros will also be thrown into the mix including former Longhorns Chantel Malone, Raasin McIntosh and Alexandria Anderson. Saturday’s home meet — the second in a row for No. 8 Texas — is a strategic opportunity for Longhorns to prepare for the upcoming post season.

“[Both the Texas Invitational and the Longhorn Invitational] were specifically designed for us to focus on our individual events and getting ready for Conference scoring and NCAA qualifying,” said head coach Beverly Kearney. 

Printed on Friday, April 20, 2012 as: Texas gets off to slow start in SAC relays in California