Track and field’s season in review

Reanna Zuniga

After finishing in the top 10 at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the men’s and women’s teams ended their record-breaking season, breaking many school and personal records. 

For the first time since 2006, Texas walked away from the Big 12 Indoor Championships with the top spots for both the men’s and women’s teams.

Back in February, head coach Mario Sategna called it a “tremendous feat” after Texas swept both the indoor and outdoor Big 12 titles.

"Winning is going to continue to happen at the University of Texas," Sategna said. "I think now more and more these athletes in that program are starting to see the light. They saw that if they pull together as a team and as a group, there's going to be some great things that happen."

Following the Big 12 Indoor Championships, Texas traveled to Ames, Iowa, to compete for a national title in the NCAA Indoor Championships. To finish off the indoor season, the men’s and women’s teams both placed sixth.

The women had a total of 33 points, including contributions from junior sprinter Courtney Okolo, who claimed her first indoor title in the 400-meter dash. Texas senior sprinter Ashley Spencer followed right behind Okolo, earning her season-best time of 51.85 seconds.

“Ashley won her section, ran a seasonal best, so that was huge for her. And then in the next heat, Courtney comes through and wins it overall,” Sategna said after the meet. “I can't say enough about that having an individual national championship under her belt once again. I think it’s going to be huge for both of them moving to the outdoor season.”

The outdoor season saw further advancement of the veteran track and field stars and the emergence of the newer athletes.

In late April, Okolo was named the women’s Longhorn Athlete of the Year, and sophomore Kendall Baisden earned Outstanding Rookie Performance.

Ryan Crouser, junior and defending shot put title-holder, cruised to a third-consecutive win with a throw of 21.11 meters — an entire meter further than the second-place holder’s mark.

Junior Morolake Akinosun foreshadowed the future of her 4×400-meter relay group after winning the relay invitational and two other individual titles.

“I think we’ve only seen a glimpse at what the team’s potential is, and it’s a good opening start for us,” Akinosun said.

In two invitationals hosted in Austin in less than a month, the Texas Invitational and the Longhorn Invitational, the Longhorns saw more victories.

In the meets, the men’s and women’s teams swept both the events. The performances at home led to a not-so-surprising Big 12 Outdoor Championship finish when the Longhorns returned to Ames, Iowa, for the outdoors conference competition.

“I think the greatest thing about the conference championships is it takes a complete team to win,” Sategna said. “From top to bottom, it didn’t matter the event area. People stepped up across the board.”

This past week, Texas went to Eugene, Oregon, for the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The women tied for the ninth spot alongside Kansas State, and the men’s team finished in seventh place with 26 points.

The USA Outdoor Championships will also be taking place in Eugene, Oregon, starting June 25 and will broadcast on NBC starting June 26.