Freshman sensation looks for third Texas Relays title

Spencer Soicher

Teahna Daniels came to the 2014 Texas Relays as a high school junior with aspirations of running collegiate track. The Orlando native was undeclared at the time, but won the 100-meter high school race.

Now, two years later, Daniels will compete once again in the event, this time as a freshman for Texas. She said the experience in 2014 helped her decide to come to Austin.

“I really wasn’t interested in Texas at first,” Daniels said. “But I came to Texas Relays my junior year of high school, and I loved it. I loved it here.” 

Daniels returned to the Texas Relays last year. With the added pressure of committing to Texas before her senior year plus defending her title, Daniels said she knew she had to have to show up for the event. Still, Daniels successfully defended her title in the 100-meter last year.

But things will be much more competitive for Daniels this year, going up against collegiate athletes with Olympic dreams rather than high schoolers. She said she knows she’s going to have to perform extra well this week to have the same results she did in high school.

“There was some competition my junior year, but my senior year, it was a chill type of year,” Daniels said. “This year, I know it’s going to be intense.”

But Daniels has the talent to hang with this new level of competitors.

She won the 50-meter race at her first NCAA Indoor Championship three weeks ago with a time of 7.11 seconds. The win made her the second freshman to be an NCAA champion in the event and her time broke two-time Olympic gold medalist Carlette Guidry’s 1991 school record.

While she is an elite talent, Daniels has surpassed some of her own expectations and even her coaches’ expectation. After the NCAA championship win, head coach Mario Sategna called Daniels “a gamer.”

“For a freshman like Teahna Daniels, what can you say, stepping up and winning an NCAA title as a true freshman,” Sategna said. 

Daniel’s turn to take the track will come on Friday and Saturday, along with the rest of the sprinters. When she gets into the starting blocks, she’ll be excited to be back in the place where her road to Texas began.

“I just love Texas Relays,” Daniels said. “I love the environment and the atmosphere with the fans. And now being a Texas Longhorn, it’s like [the fans] know I’m one of them.”