Texas women fall half point short of NCAA Indoor Title, men finish 20th

Grant Gordon and Daniel Clay

Entering the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships ranked fifth in the nation, the Longhorn women knew capturing the top spot would take an extraordinary team effort.

At the 4×400-meter relay, the final event of the weekend, the Longhorns hold a once-improbable title within reach. Texas already held the national-record time in the event. All it needed was a victory to best No. 1 Georgia to claim the national championship.

Senior sprinter Briana Nelson, sophomore sprinter Courtney Okolo, freshman sprinter Kendall Baisden and junior sprinter Ashley Spencer ran the event in an NCAA-record time of 3:27.42, but the Oregon Ducks stole the national title with a .02-second advantage at 3:27.40.

“The goal was to come away with a team trophy,” head coach Mario Sategna said in a statement. “But to be second and to get the program on track a little bit is a step in the right direction.”

En route to Texas’ second-place performance, sophomore pole-vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose recorded a collegiate indoor record vault of 15 feet, 1 inch. Senior jumper Shanay Briscoe followed with fifth place in the high jump, clearing 6.5 feet for her fifth First Team All-American honor.

In the 400-meter finals, three Texas runners placed in the same event for just the second time in team history: Spencer (2), Okolo (4) and Baisden (5).

Entering at No. 25, the Longhorn men finished the meet 20th with a team score of 11 points.

Sophomore shot-putter Ryan Crouser, who won the event with a throw of 69 feet, 7 inches, grabbed 10 of those points as he eclipsed the next-best mark by nearly 4 feet. Each of Crouser’s five legal throws landed far enough to win the individual title.

“That was the best series by far that I’ve ever had,” Crouser said in a statement. “Across the board, this was the best meet I’ve ever had.”

Sophomore sprinter Zack Bilderback contributed Texas’ remaining point and earned his first All-American honor with an eighth place finish in the 400 meters with a time of 47.63 seconds.

The outdoor season begins Saturday.