Texas track and field equally yoked, headed to NCAA Outdoor Championships

Kaitlyn Harmon

White bibs on burnt orange uniforms stood out on the track among maroon and white and other NCAA competitors in College Station over the weekend.

The Longhorns secured 24 bids to send 12 Texas men and 12 Texas women to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon next month, where head coach Edrick Floréal and team will look to earn a national title.

The four-day meet wasn’t entirely immune to hiccups, as the third day ended abruptly due to inclement weather. Before the lightning rolled into Aggieland, eight Longhorns had punched their tickets to the NCAA Outdoor Championships on June 9.

Texas closed out day three of the NCAA West Preliminary Round with UT upperclassmen owning the eight bids given to Texas. Collegiate record holder Tara Davis, five-time Big 12 champion Tripp Piperi and one-time Big 12 champion Elene Bruckner were among the Texas track and field household names advancing to Oregon.

Davis was the first Texas woman to earn a bid to the championship Thursday. The junior leapt down the runway at 6.86 meters, finishing second in the field, and eventually securing her name on the NCAA Outdoor Championships’ short list.

Piperi earned a ticket to his third NCAA Outdoor Championship with a season-best throw of 20.23 meters. Piperi’s throw marks his second performance back from an ankle surgery in March, and he’s headed to Oregon as the reigning NCAA Outdoor shot put champion.

Bruckner, Texas’ star female thrower, launched a lifetime-best throw at 17.36 meters, securing her spot as the second Texas woman headed to Eugene. The senior now stands as the third-best shot put performer in Texas history.

Underclassmen heptathlete Kristine Blazevica and decathlete Leo Neugebauer qualified for the NCAA West Championships with season-high scores, but multi-event qualifiers are not decided upon in East or West Preliminary Rounds.

The Longhorns sought and found reward on day four as fifteen additional Texas men and women punched their tickets to Eugene. Texas’ four-man relay put on a show, clocking a 39.17 in the 4×100-meter relay to race one more time next month. The Texas quartet’s performance in College Station is the eighth-fastest time in Texas history.

Texas found its remaining six bids Saturday from sprinters Jonathan Jones and Micaiah Harris, hurdler Charles Brockman III, and distance runners Yusuf Bizimana and Crayton Carrozza.

Harris, a senior, will appear in two events in June, as he’s earned bids as a part of the Texas quartet and in the 200-meter dash. The two-time Big 12 champion recorded a 20.20 in the dash, qualifying his performance as the third-fastest time on UT record. Harris competed in the 200-meter dash in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin where he placed fifth.

The Longhorn women handled the rest of Texas’ bids, earning eight additional bids Saturday.

The women dominated the 200-meter dash with three NCAA-qualifying performances from freshmen Rhasidat Adeleke and Kevona Davis and junior Kynnedy Flannel. Adeleke, the Irish national record holder, clocked 23.03 in the 200-meter dash, behind Davis’ 22.87 fifth place performance and Flannel’s 22.67 second place performance.

Flannel, the No. 9 performer in UT history, returns to the big stage at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 200-meter dash. The junior finished 12th in the event two years ago in Austin, and looks ahead to Oregon to beat her previous performance.

Texas runners return to the 40 acres to prepare for their biggest performances yet. The NCAA Outdoor Championships kicks off June 9 in Eugene, Oregon to conclude the 2020-2021 track and field season.