Jamaican native Keiron Stewart hopes to lead no. 9 Texas men’s track and field to a Big 12 Indoor Championship

Louis San Miguel

More than 1,500 miles and the Gulf of Mexico separate senior hurdler Keiron Stewart’s hometown of Kingston, Jamaica, from Mike A. Myers Stadium, where he now plies his trade. But seeing how comfortably he glides over the track and leaps effortlessly over hurdles, you wouldn’t know it. 

The native Jamaican might be far away from home, but has settled in and become an integral part of the men’s track and field team over the last four years.

Far from his hometown, Stewart still keeps connections with his original home. He wears a necklace given to him by his mother and on it is a ring that was given to him by a close friend. Both are reminders of home that he keeps with him as he speeds around the track.

Among his heroes is Maurice Wignall, the outstanding hurdler who set the standard for all other Jamaican jumpers in Athens in 2004. Andre Wellington and Leford Green, members of the Jamaican Olympic team in 2008 and 2012, respectively, are like big brothers to him, pushing him to succeed on the track. 

“I really admire them,” Stewart said. “They push me. Just seeing them run at my high school and go through the rungs and show poise and experience every time they touch the track. They’re
my inspiration.”

Stewart barely missed out on a trip to the Olympics in 2012 himself, coming in .03 seconds short of a third-place finish at the Jamaican Trials, a finish that would have guaranteed him a seat on the plane to London, but he hasn’t let it bother him much.

“It’s life. There are always going to be setbacks,” Stewart explained. “We just have to learn from them. We have to move on and learn not to make the same mistake twice.”

Now in his senior season, Stewart has had time to learn from his mistakes and now guides and supports the younger Texas athletes. He and the rest of the seniors have been instrumental in leading the way for the Longhorns in 2013 and have helped the youth understand the expectations that come with a burnt orange uniform.

Stewart and the rest of the Longhorns track and field team will head to Ames, Iowa, to compete in the 2013 Big 12 Indoor Championships on Saturday and Sunday. The field will be tough, as the Big 12 is one of the fiercest leagues in track competition, but Stewart feels confident his best performances are yet to come.

“You have to go out with a bang. You can’t leave no t’s uncrossed and no i’s undotted,” Stewart said. “This is our main goal right now — fine tuning everything and getting sharper for the competition.”

Stewart will compete in the 60-meter hurdles Friday at 4 p.m., and is hoping to lead Texas to a win after a three-year drought at the Big 12 meet. He previously won the 60-meter hurdles in 2011, setting the Texas record with a time of 7.66 seconds, and is in a good position to do it again after matching the time at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas.

“Keiron has been there. He’s done it before,” head coach Bubba Thornton said. “He’s been four years All-American and has the potential to do more.”

He already has his name firmly etched in the UT record books, holding the top marks in the 60- and 100-meter hurdles, but it doesn’t look like he wants to let go of them for a long time. 

“I’m in a better position and better fitness level,” Stewart said. “I’m looking forward to breaking the record again.”

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Stewart hurdling the competition".