Thornton’s hand keeps Men’s Track and Field on national title contention track
Bubba Thornton, who is in his 11th year as head coach of the Texas men’s track team, says he knew this edition of the Longhorns was going to be good.
He saw it last summer.
“We had guys working hard then, pointing to the season,” Thornton began. “We have a bunch of very good athletes who enjoy what they are doing. They keep reminding each other about the work they put in.
“They are a team. They are together.”
That cohesiveness will have a chance to strengthen in April with the 79th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays (April 5-8), as well as the Longhorn Invitational later in the month (April 22), and then the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships (May 26-27). (Also in the mix is the Big 12 Outdoor Championships on May 12-14 in Waco.)
Fruits of the off-season labor already have been evident with Texas’ fourth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Longhorns equaled their all-time best showing at the Indoor and surpassed their point total from their showing in 2004 with 35 points (compared to 31 in 2004).
Had Texas senior Trey Hardee not had to withdraw from the final two events of the heptathlon because of injury, the Longhorns may have surpassed their previous best effort in the NCAA Indoor.
“We were in a position to take a run at first,” Thornton admitted.
Hardee, who owns the NCAA’s heptathlon mark, was named the NCAA Division I Men’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross County Coaches’ Association.
Junior Andra Manson tied for second in the high jump, while freshman Jamaal Charles and senior Trey Griffin claimed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 60-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor.
Junior Donovan Kilmartin captured his second NCAA heptathlon title, with personal bests in the 60-meter hurdles and the pole vault. Sophomore Leonel Manzano was seventh in the mile. Senior Brian Robison collected his first All-America honor after placing seventh in the shot put.
The Hurricane Invitational produced four victories and seven regional marks.
“It was good to be able to add kids to the roster as we go from indoor to outdoor,” Thornton said.
Among the performances of note for the Longhorns in Miami included senior Ryan Ponsonby, who set a meet record in the 800 meters. Sophomore Hamza Deyaf claimed the 400-meter hurdles and sophomore Joel Hargett had a personal-best high jump that was good for first place.
Senior Quincy Boles, senior Ronald Hill, Griffin and Manson took first place in the 4x100-meter relays, while sophomore John Rouse had a personal best in the hammer throw and freshman Derek Randall was second in the discus.
“The conference championship still is out there,” Thornton began. “The NCAA Outdoor Championship is still out there. They want to do this. They see what has been going on around here.
“They recognize what baseball has done and what football has done with winning National Championships. Everything is so exciting here.”
The men’s track team would like to add to the excitement.