Men’s track: Adversity hits Longhorns on first day of NCAA Indoor Championships

Marcus Krum

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — On lap five of eight during the mile run on Friday at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Texas distance runner Sam Worley was comfortably running in the middle of the pack, staying close enough to strike late in the race. In an instant, however, that all changed.

A runner in front of Worley stumbled, forcing the freshman to maneuver around him. Worley quickly fell behind the rest of the group.

“I was swinging to the outside to make my move and get around people and just start gunning for it,” Worley said, “and the Oregon athlete in front of me fell, and I had to stop.”

After the fall, Worley attempted a comeback but was never able to regain his rhythm. He finished seventh in his heat and did not qualify for the finals on Saturday.

“I was building momentum and I was really ready to move and go for it, and it just completely cut it all off,” Worley said. “There’s a million ways I thought that could’ve gone, and that was not the way I wanted it to go.”

Earlier in the day, sophomore heptathlete George Patrick, competing in the NCAA Championships for the first time, faced a different kind of adversity.

“I never get nervous before a race … (but) when I was in the blocks today, my arms were shaking, I was so nervous,” Patrick said.

He fought off the nerves with a solid time in the 60-meter dash and through three events had performed well. But on his last event of the day, Patrick could not overcome a lingering pain in his knee, falling from eighth in the overall standings to 15th.

“Just the way he fought through, he never got down on himself,” Texas associate head coach Ty Sevin said. “That’s some of that maturity that I'd like to see as we move forward.”

Elsewhere, the Longhorns managed a great showing in the long jump, with junior Steffin McCarter finishing fifth and sophomore O’Brien Wasome placing 10th.

Freshman Tripp Piperi finished seventh in the shot put — a good sign as the team heads into the outdoor season.

“He came to me and said, ‘Coach, I’m going to do better outdoor. I promise,’” Texas interim head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. “That’s his mindset — that it’s never good enough (and) he needs to be striving for better.”

On Saturday, Patrick will get back on the track to wrap up the final three events of the heptathlon. Later on, senior Alan Zapalac will compete in the weight throw, and Wasome will participate in the triple jump.