Among 15 records, Longhorns excel at Texas Relays

Grant Gordon and Daniel Clay

The 87th annual Texas Relays will certainly go down as one of the most memorable of all time, as competitors set 15 records during the four-day meet.

One such record was set by sophomore throwing sensation Ryan Crouser, who picked up right where he left off in his national championship-winning indoor season. Crouser improved the school record he already owned in the shot put with a toss of 69 feet, 9.5 inches. The mark also hit a Texas Relays record. 

Crouser threw a personal best Saturday, this time in the discus. His throw of 199 feet, 4 inches, won him fifth place in a deep field.

Relatively unknown freshman hurdler Spencer Dunkerley-Offor enjoyed a successful meet also, finishing fifth in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.90. Senior distance runner John McNamara finished seventh place in the mile with a time of 4:08.95.

The women responded enthusiastically to their first challenge of the season. The team captured four first-place finishes en route to winning the meet’s “Most Outstanding University/College Team” award.

Senior hurdler Danielle Dowie fed off the energy of the home crowd Friday to finish first in the 400-meter hurdles. Her time of 57.52 edged LSU’s Nikita Tracy by a mere 0.01 seconds, but Dowie did not appear phased by the close call.

“The last part wasn’t pretty, but winning doesn’t always have to be pretty,” Dowie said. “It was just a matter of getting back into a competitive mode.”

In what is becoming routine, sophomore pole vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose won first place in her event Friday night. Petrillose broke her own school record by clearing the bar of 4.5 meters. After securing first place, she set the bar to an NCAA record height of 4.62 meters. Petrillose’s third attempt at history saw her torso cross the mark, but a collective moan from the crowd accompanied the sophomore’s descent after her toes just brushed the bar off its mounts. 

As temperatures rose Saturday, so did the Longhorns’ fever. Grabbing wins in the 4×200-meter relay, the 100-meters and the 1500-meters, Texas was not bothered by the weather.

“It feels good,” said junior sprinter Ashley Spencer, who helped propel Texas to second in the 4×100 and first place in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays. “The key to victory today was chemistry, trusting our teammates and just to run fast and have fun.”

The 4×400 relay — Texas’ specialty event — came just at meet’s close. The Longhorns jostled with Florida until the third leg when freshman sprinter Kendall Baisden pulled away from the pack.

“She’s a tough competitor,” Spencer said. “I can expect hard work from [Baisden] every single time.”

Baisden’s final burst allowed Spencer to carry the baton across the line and end Texas Relays with a win.

“It means a lot.” Spencer said. “This is our track, this is where we practice, this is where we put the hard work in.”