They’ve all dreamed of what it might feel like to be a champion. Some have lived it, while others are hungry for their first taste of gold.
This weekend will be forever etched in the minds of eight young men competing in Nampa, Idaho for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Each of these guys are equally deserving and qualified to walk away No. 1, hands down. That’s not to discredit the rising level of competition at a meet of this caliber, but being ranked among the nation’s best in their respective events doesn’t exactly impede their chances.
In the Longhorn’s throwing category alone, there are three ranked in the top five nationally. And if that doesn’t knock your socks off, the powerhouse group is led by Big 12 Freshman of the Year and school record holder Ryan Crouser, with a top throw of 66-7.
And just a stone’s throw away from Crouser are two All-Americans, senior Jacob Thormaehlen and junior Hayden Baillio. Two weeks ago Thormaehlen and Baillio threw 66-5.25 and 64-6.5 at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Both will make their third straight appearance at nationals this weekend and look to improve on their respective seventh and fifth place 2011 finishes.
Texas has a pair of outdoor national champions in pole vault and long jump hoping to continue their gold-seeking trend with this trip as well. Junior Maston Wallace won the pole vault in outdoors in 2008 and was recently crowned Big 12 Champion with a personal best jump of 17-8.5 on his final attempt. This will be the veteran vaulter’s third NCAA Indoor appearance. Junior long jumper Marquise Goodwin won the 2010 outdoor national championship, and like Wallace, he recently clinched the Big 12 title on his final leap. Goodwin’s jump of 26-7 remains the second longest in the nation this year.
In undoubtedly one of the most grueling events of the competition, Texas has two heptathletes proudly repping burnt orange out of 16 athletes expected to battle. This large competition is comprised of seven events over a two-day period. Junior Isaac Murphy and freshman Petter Olson are currently nationally ranked 11th and 12th respectively. The Sweden native is among the handful of Longhorns who were crowned Big 12 Champions, with his winning post of 5,745 points. Murphy stood directly to Olson’s left on the medal platform with a second place finish.
Another young competitor making his national debut will be freshman Kyle Thompson in the 800-meter run. His never-back-down mentality earned him a spot in the event as one of only two freshman chosen. At Big 12 Championships he clocked a time of 1:48.53 to boost himself into the 15 member pack.
At one point or another in their careers, all of these athletes have raised their horns in victory or have shaken their heads in defeat. But the mental toughness and physical fervor among this group of Longhorns will settle for nothing short of greatness.
Printed on Friday, March 9, 2012 as: Hard work garners chance at national title for Longhorns