Junior sprinter Morolake Akinosun leads with versatility

Bradley Maddox

Junior sprinter Morolake Akinosun has earned a superlative from track and field head coach Mario Sategna.

“She’s Texas track’s most versatile athlete,” Sategna said. 

Akinosun smiles humbly and turns the personal praise into a team tribute.

“It means a lot, but what it really means is that I have his trust,” Akinosun said. “At a meet, practice or even the training room, I will do anything to help my team.”

To every question, Akinosun gives a calculated answer, emphasizing the team. After her leg in the winning women’s 4x100m relay at Saturday’s Longhorn Invitational, Akinosun was already preparing for the team’s trip to the Big 12 Championships.

“We’ve been putting in the hard work since September, and now it gets to really be seen,” Akinosun said. “A meet like this is one of the very few times in track and field that the team concept comes to mind; you’re not just running to win. You’re running for your team.”

Akinosun’s original plans had her succeeding next to her sister, Moriyike, as teammates at the University of Illinois. But as fate would have it, she left the frigid north for Austin. 

“My initial draw to Texas was coach [Tonja Buford]-Bailey. While at Illinois, I developed an amazing relationship with her.” 

Buford-Bailey, a former Olympian medalist, made the move to join coach Mario Sategna at Texas, and Akinosun had no hesitation in following her mentor. 

“I wanted to continue my career with her as my coach,” Akinosun said. “However, after just being on the campus for a visit, I fell in love with it and didn’t want to go anywhere else. She’s my mom away from mom.”

Buford-Bailey’s training has produced wins upon wins for Akinosun this year. In the outdoor season alone, she has amassed victories in the 100m dash, 200m dash, 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay. Akinosun attributes her success to the coaching staff at Texas. 

“They give me amazing coaching strategies and helped develop me into an athlete that can run 100-400 meters and be on both relays,” Akinosun said.

Off the track, Akinosun is known on the team for being a character and someone who brings joy to the locker room.

“If I was stranded on an island and could only have two teammates, it would be [senior sprinter] Morgan Snow and [sophomore sprinter] Chris Irvin,” Akinosun said. “If I’m stranded on an island, I at least want to be able to laugh, and Morgan does that. And if we’re stuck on an island, we need someone to get us off. Chris would be the guy to figure that out.” 

When her running days are over, Akinosun has her next step figured out.

“When I’m done running track — hopefully after a couple Olympic games — I would love to pursue a master’s degree in biomechanics,” Akinosun said. “I want to build rehab equipment and prosthetics to help athletes or just people in general.”