Nearly three decades have past since Texas’ prolific 1986 sprint medley relay team raced together. But the four men aren’t finished making their mark just yet.
This weekend the group of John Patterson, Jason Leach, Earle Laing and Pablo Squella will be added to the Penn Relay Carnival Wall of Fame at the 100th running of the Penn Relays. Not only will this moment allow them to relive their glory days and reflect upon the profound impact they’ve had on Texas’ Track and Field program, it will mark yet another milestone in their successful career as teammates.
The four men achieved a great deal during their careers under Texas’ head coach Stan Huntsman. Each of them earned Texas All-Time All-American honors and rank among the top 10 Longhorn Performers in their respective individual events.
Beginning with the 1985 indoor season and up until outdoor competition in 1988, Squella maintained All-American status. He was a bronze medalist in the 800-meter run at both the 1986 and ’88 NCAA Outdoor Championships. He was also a SWC Champion in the 1000-yard run and his time of 2:07.89 ranks No. 1 among the top five Longhorn competitors in the event.
Patterson, along with the other members of the 1987 1600-meter relay team, set the school record at the Northern Arizona Invitational with a time of 3:06.65. They currently hold the top spot on the list of top Longhorn Performers.
During the 1987 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Leach finished seventh in the 100-meter dash with a 10.37. He also ranks within the top 10 in Longhorn history in the 60-yard dash with a recorded time of 6.22.
Laing, Patterson and Squella were three of the four members on the mile relay team that set both the UT and conference record with their performance at the 1985 Arizona Invitational. The group clocked in at 3:04.76 for the win, and continues to rank first place among the top five of Longhorn Performers.
Despite having a mile long list of accolades between them, the four teammates feel that this weekend’s honor most accurately depicts the camaraderie they’ve shared and the Texas pride they continue to carry with them.
“It means a great deal and is an honor,” Leach said. “It gives me great pride that I could run at the Penn Relays and represent Texas. I am real proud of the way we competed and happy to have run with good guys. I wouldn’t trade my teammates for anybody else in the world.”
It’s difficult to imagine a different group of guys competing together, considering the events that unfolded at Penn Relay’s 1986 competition.
“What I remember from the race is Seton Hall had a really good quarter miler Andrew Valmon,” Leach said. “We were neck and neck the whole way. We had a pretty good team and I remember they didn’t have sprinters in certain lanes so we were jockeying for position at full speed. It was different than running anywhere else and different running against teams we didn’t know from the East Coast.”
The Longhorns technically finished second to Seton Hall, despite the two teams recording exact times of 3:13.65 to tie for the meet record. Leach opened up the race with the first 200-meter dash, while Laing took the other. Laing handed the baton off to Patterson for the 400-meter dash.
The race came down to the wire as Texas’ Squella was barely ousted by Seton Hall’s Akanni Gbadamosi at the finish.
During this weekend’s collegiate competition featuring UT’s future greats, the two opponents will face again — but this time in celebration of each other as proud inductees into the Wall of Fame.