Texas men’s track & field had high hopes heading into the NCAA Indoor Championships. But after finishing in an unlucky 13th place, it was clear that things didn’t go as planned for the Longhorns in Birmingham.
Although Texas finished within the Top 15 for the first time since 2016, underachievement rang strong at the conclusion of the NCAA meet Saturday. Head coach Edrick Floréal wanted more out of the men, who only scored 16 team points over the two days of competition.
“Today wasn’t as we expected,” Floréal said. “I thought that both teams should’ve scored more than 20 points ... We have too many talented athletes and we know that Texas is significantly better than we showed.”
On Friday, Texas’ chances to secure a top placement initially seemed promising. Scoring eight points — half the amount of the entire team total — was Tripp Piperi in the shot-put. Piperi’s second place performance was powered by personal best throws that shattered his previous marks by almost a foot. The thrower was the last Longhorn to capture a top-three finish during the meet.
“I’m just very proud of myself,” Piperi said. “This is great going into outdoor season. I still have a lot to work on, but this was a pretty great throw.”
Saturday’s performances just weren’t enough. Sam Worley finished sixth in the mile to earn Texas three points. Worley’s performance was followed by John Burt competing in the 60-meter hurdles. Burt, who met his goal for the meet by making it to the finals, placed fifth. O’Brien Wasome, last year’s indoor triple jump champion, placed eighth after weeks of nursing an injury.
The five points Burt and Wasome secured for Texas would be the last for the team. Early into the 3,000-meter run, school record-holder Alex Rogers was tripped up, resulting in his 14th place finish. Although Rogers didn’t give up, the mishap still proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the Texas men and their hopes for a high placement.
Floréal wants to uplift Texas to a national caliber, but he believes the power to do so resides with the athletes.
“When we get people to buy in and totally commit to the process of success, we will see results,” Floréal said. “We need to go from being a great conference team to being a great team, period.”
Next weekend, the Longhorns head to the UT-San Antonio Invitational for the first meet of the outdoor season. There, they will once again embark on their journey toward becoming a great team.