The Texas Relays began on Wednesday, but Saturday afternoon on the last day of competition was when the action really got started. With crowds filling the stands, Mike A. Myers Stadium was alive and so was the meet, which was characterized by fast running, high flying, Olympian sightings and a lot of wind.
In their home stadium, two Longhorn men — John Burt and Sam Worley — turned in inspired performances that they hope act as pictures of what is to come.
Right before the mile, Worley warmed up on the sidelines.
“Let’s go, Sam Worley!” a crowd of blue yelled from the bleachers.
The encouragement was enough to poke through Worley’s pre-race stare. He even cracked a smile.
Once the race began, Worley got off to a conservative start. Not wanting to take his chances in the windy conditions, he trailed the competition in a patient third place. But by the last lap or so, Worley positioned himself in front, gradually building up more momentum.
“Going (into) the last 600, I knew I needed to close the gap on the guy in the front,” Worley said. “I made the move up the home stretch and caught him with 400 to go. I knew that was the moment where I had to be decisive and just go for it so (that) no one would be sitting on me.”
As his teammate Alex Rogers did yesterday evening, Worley threw up the Longhorn hand gesture once he crossed the finish line as the race winner. On his home turf, the crowd went wild.
“(Being at home) is incredibly special,” Worley said. “It’s awesome just having all of my family here, all the teammates … the home crowd, the city of Austin behind you … It’s just awesome.”
The average person runs a mile in seven to 10 minutes, but for Worley, covering that distance takes around four, sometimes less. Part of the exclusive sub four-minute mile club, Worley had the fastest time in the field. While the runner recorded a “slower” 4:04.59 today, he thinks he can keep shaving time off his personal best of 3:57.98.
“Capturing that barrier is big,” Worley said. “But it just makes me want to go faster.”
Worley’s stellar performance came after John Burt’s solid third-place finish in the 110 meter hurdles. Looking at the jumbotron after crossing the finish line, Burt clapped and jumped up and down once he saw his time and his placement.
“I would’ve liked to finish first,” Burt said. “That was only my second 110 race of the year, so I kinda had high expectations for myself. But I think I can walk away pretty satisfied today. (The race) shows that I’m right in the mix (for nationals).”
Burt, Worley and the Texas men hope to use their performances this weekend as stepping stones to nationals in June. Also hosted at Mike A. Myers Stadium, the NCAA Championships will be much hotter. But, as many Longhorns demonstrated at this week’s Texas Relays, weather isn’t a factor with victory in mind.