Texas track and field off to strong start in Penn Relays


Lauren Ussery

Junior Morgan Snow, pictured here during the Texas Relays in March, competed for the 4×100-meter Texas relay heat in Thursday's Penn Relays.

This caption has been corrected since its original posting. The original caption misidentified the runner.

Daniel Clay

Thursday marked the beginning of the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, which provides the Longhorns with their final big challenge three weeks before the start of postseason competition.

Senior sprinter Danielle Dowie kicked off the meet for the No. 3 women with a third place finish in the 400-meter hurdles. Dowie already held the ninth best 400-meter hurdle time in the nation coming into the meet, but her strong finish against some elite competition shows flashes of the consistency that head coach Mario Sategna expects for his top athletes this weekend.

“There is a long history of Texas attending Penn Relays,” Sategna said in a statement. “For us, this is a meet that helps put the final touches on getting ready for the championship portion of our season.”

The 4×400-meter relay team of senior Briana Nelson, sophomore Courtney Okolo, freshman Kendall Baisden and junior Ashley Spencer showed that the team is ready for the postseason. The team had a score to settle with Oregon after the Longhorns fell just short of an indoor national championship after finishing second to the Ducks in the 4×400. Fueled by its past loss, Texas trounced Oregon by almost three seconds en route to a first place finish in the 4×400-meter heats.

The men did not compete until late Thursday evening with the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Senior distance runner Austin Roth got the men started off with a 10th place finish in the field of 34 competitors.

The men also competed in the 5,000-meter and the 10,000-meter late Thursday night, and will see the bulk of their action as the Penn Relays continue Friday and Saturday.