After securing Big 12 Title, Longhorns await NCAA Indoor Championships

Myah Taylor

The UT Tower glowed burnt orange on Sunday in honor of Texas women’s track & field, who took home the Big 12 Indoor Championship.

Team members gathered around Littlefield Fountain to celebrate their victory, but the Longhorns had their sights set on something bigger than the festivities.

This year, 11 Longhorns and two relay teams qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships. John Burt, Jonathan Jones, Steffin McCarter, Tripp Piperi, Alex Rogers, O’Brien Wasome, Sam Worley and the distance medley relay team will represent Texas men. The women will be represented by Gabby Crank, Teahna Daniels, Kynnedy Flannel, Ashtin Zamzow and the 4x400m relay team.

Burt, the Big 12 Champion in the 60-meter hurdles, feels confident about what will be his first indoor National Championship.

“I feel pretty good, there’s obviously a lot of good competition, but I believe in my training” Burt said. “I know if I go out there and do what I’m supposed to do, I’ll do well … My goal is to make the final. If I can place, then that’ll be a good day for me.”

Unlike Burt, 4×400-meter relay runner Kennedy Simon said she is feeling the butterflies in her stomach as her first NCAA Indoor Championship race nears. Her goal is to not let her youth be a roadblock.

“It’s my freshman year,” Simon said. “Even though I’m younger, (I’m trying to) not compete like I’m younger.”

Flannel, a freshman who’s quickly become a sprinting phenom for the Longhorns, won the Big 12 Championship in the 200-meter sprint. Still, she has mixed emotions about her upcoming nationals appearance.

“I’m confident but I’m nervous at the same time,” Flannel said. “I’m just excited to be there … It’s a good opportunity and I just want to have fun while I’m there.”

Head coach Edrick Floréal also talked about the meet and his confidence in Texas’ ability.

“I think our women have a really good chance,” Floréal said. “I mean, if we can go be in the top 10, that would be very commemorable. I think the men have a better chance to be in the top four. Hopefully we can get a trophy. The guys are a little bit older … Some of our key players are used to being in the championships, so they’ll be able to handle the pressure a little bit better.”

The Longhorns will conclude their indoor season Friday and Saturday when they compete at the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.