Former Longhorns land Team USA spots in Olympic trials

Leah Vann

The Olympic trials showed the Longhorns had a variety of talent with qualifiers in shot put, sprints, distance and hurdles. 

Sunday, the final day of competition, saw former Longhorn Ashley Spencer qualify for Team USA after a second place finish in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. In addition, Texas rising-senior Byron Robinson took second in the men’s 400-meter hurdles to punch his ticket to the 2016 Olympics. 

One of the highlights from earlier in the trials was former Longhorn Ryan Crouser’s performance in the shot put. Crouser has ties in the throwing field — his father and grandfather competed in the Olympics as throwers. Twenty-thousand fans had their eyes on the Oregon native in the men’s shot put final. Within two attempts, Crouser took the leading mark of 22.11 meters to make the Olympic team. 

“This was really my first big shot put competition,” Crouser said.  “I’m just happy to make the team and even happier to walk out of here on top.”

Six days after the men’s shot put competition, former Longhorn Michelle Carter grabbed another Texas-title in the shot put. Carter approached her final attempt in fourth-place, but saved her best attempt for last with a mark of 19.59 meters to take the top spot for the Olympic team. 

“Anything can happen in this competition,” Carter said. “Team USA is the hardest team to make so you can never take these meets lightly. Each spot is earned and I earned my spot tonight.”

Recent graduate Morolake Akinosun took the track for the short sprinters. She improved in each round of the 100-meter, clocking in at 10.99 seconds in the preliminaries and 10.97 seconds in the semifinals. She reached her new personal best in the finals at 10.95 seconds — which ranked fourth at the trials. 

“I feel incredible. I picked the perfect time to have [personal records],” Akinosun said after the final. “I would have loved to have done it at the NCAA three weeks ago, but I think that I’m happier with this performance in doing it here now.”

Akinosun qualified as an alternate for Team USA. But she still hopes for a spot on the 4×100-meter relay team, which will be announced Monday. 

Another Longhorn made the cut on the trials’ second day. In her first Olympic trials, former Longhorn Marielle Hall clocked in at 31:54.77 in the 10,000-meter to secure her spot on the Olympic team.

“I’m really proud to represent everyone who has gotten me here at the Olympics,” Hall said. “I watched [Crouser] win the shot put last night. Texas is tradition. That’s the slogan. That’s the tagline.” 

The athletes that qualified will go on to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Texas head coach Mario Sategna will travel to Rio as an assistant with Team USA, and now some of his former athletes will join him. 

“This meet shows with our current student-athletes as well as our Texas Exes what The University of Texas provides,” Sategna said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Ryan Crouser’s or the Michelle Carter’s, the support they receive when they come through those doors, it’s like an Olympic Training Center on the way to not only elevate yourself to the Olympic Games but also most importantly to getting a great degree that can take you anywhere in America and provide you opportunity.”