Texas men track and field wins national championship for first time in program history

Hannah Williford, Sports Editor

The men’s track and field team lit the tower burnt orange Saturday after becoming NCAA indoor national champions for the first time in program history. 

It’s the second time the Longhorn men earned the title of champion this season, after winning the Big 12 in Ames, Iowa the last weekend of February. Despite coming off a Big 12 conference title of their own, the No. 3 women fell just short to University of Florida over the weekend, finishing in second overall.

Texas sent 26 total entries to the championship in Birmingham, Alabama. Twelve individual athletes and a 4×4 relay team represented the women for the Longhorns, while eight individuals, a 4×4 team and a distance medley relay team competed for the men. 

Among the athletes sent for the men’s team was graduate student Tripp Piperi, the 2019 NCAA shot put champion, looking for a second title in his fifth season at Texas. On Saturday, Piperi found himself in a battle with Arizona State’s Turner Washington, who threw 21.65 meters in the first round. Piperi attempted in the next three rounds to match the distance, throwing his best in the final round with a season-high 21.58 meter throw but came up short, taking home second place.

But the placement didn’t stop Piperi from celebrating the overall victory with his team, lifting the championship trophy over his head and starting chants of “Texas Fight” with the crowd.

Senior Julien Alfred also made her mark at the meet, setting the new collegiate record for the 600m dash at 7:04 in the preliminaries by keeping her head low in the drive phase through almost a third of the sprint. Alfred fell short of her time in the finals, placing her at fifth overall in the competition but is now tied for the second-fastest 600m time in the world with her preliminary run.

One of the biggest pushes for the men’s championship came from the distance medley relay team of junior Cruz Gomez, senior Willington Wright, junior Crayton Carrozza and junior Yaseen Abdalla. While Gomez led off the race, for much of the first two legs, Texas stayed in the middle of the pack. But Carrozza hit a burst at the end of the third leg, setting up his teammate for his mile run. 

Abdalla didn’t squander the opportunity. Staying towards the back of the frontrunners for the majority of the race, Abdalla waited until the final lap bell to make his move, cutting in front with an elbow to the Notre Dame runner and sprinting past Princeton to cross the finish line in first.

Multiple Texas women put up strong showings in their runner-up finish. Juniors Kennedy Simon and Stacy Ann Williams swiped second and third place in the 400m, about a half-second shy of first. Tyra Gittens took second in the high jump with a scream of success as she hit the mat after clearing the bar set at 1.89m. 

Concluding its indoor season, Texas will be back on the track next weekend for its outdoor season at the UTSA invitational.