Twenty-two Longhorns to represent U.S. in 2008 Olympic Games
AUSTIN, Texas -- Eighteen current or former Longhorn student-athletes have earned spots on the 2008 United States Olympic teams and a total of 22 athletes and coaches will represent America on Aug. 8-24 in Beijing, China. The 18 athletes eclipses the most-ever qualifiers for Team U.S.A. that The University of Texas has provided, one more than the 17 Horns that participated in 2000 (Sydney). Texas also had 16 representatives in 1988 (Seoul).
"It's always a thrill watching our student-athletes competing at the various Olympic Trials and to see so many of them making the team," said UT Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds. "It's a tribute to all of our great coaches and staffers as well as the hard work and dedication of the student-athletes to achieve such a life-long dream. We're looking forward to following all of them in Beijing."
The four coaches representing UT in Beijing are Eddie Reese (head coach, men's swimming), Bubba Thornton (head coach, men's track and field), Gail Goestenkors (assistant coach, women's basketball) and Matt Scoggin (assistant coach, men's swimming and diving). It marks the third time Reese has served as head coach of the U.S. team, having previously led the squad in 1992 (Barcelona) and 2004 (Athens). He also served as an assistant coach three times: 1988 (Seoul), 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney). Thornton previously served as an assistant coach in 2000, while Goestenkors was an assistant coach for the American team that won the gold medal in 2004.
"What a thrilling Olympic Trials week for the Texas Longhorns!" said UT Women's Athletics Director Chris Plonsky. "Few things compare to witnessing the grit and sheer competitiveness of future, current and former student-athletes in these pressure-packed settings. To represent our country during the Games in Beijing is the ultimate experience. And for those who fell short of that goal, they also did us proud. We salute their efforts and know they will be cheering their teammates in August."
Featuring world record holders Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Aaron Peirsol, the Longhorns men's swimming team leads the group and all schools nationally with seven current, former and future student-athletes earning spots on the 2008 U.S. Team. Peirsol and Crocker will make their third straight appearances at the Olympic Games, while Hansen is heading to his second.
At last week's U.S. Olympic Trials, Peirsol broke his own world record in the 100-meter backstroke (52.89) and tied Ryan Lochte's 200-meter backstroke world mark (1:54.32) on his way to victory in those events. Peirsol won gold in both events at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Crocker, a silver medalist in the 100-meter butterfly in 2004 who set the world record (50.40) in that event in 2005, finished second to Michael Phelps at this year's trials in that event. Hansen, the world record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke, earned his trip to Beijing by winning that event at the trials in 59.93. Hansen set the world-record mark of 59.13 at the 2006 USA Swimming National Championships. He claimed a silver medal in the 100-meter breaststroke and a bronze in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2004 Games.
Garrett Weber-Gale secured two spots on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team by winning the 50 and 100-meter freestyle events. Weber-Gale set an American record that was later broken in the 100-meter freestyle before setting another American record in the 50-meter freestyle finals (21.47).
The four Texas Exes will be joined by a couple of current Longhorns in rising juniors Ricky Berens and Dave Walters and future Longhorn Scott Spann, who has transferred to UT after competing at Michigan the last two seasons. Berens and Walters each earned their Olympic berths by landing top-six finishes in the 200-meter freestyle at the Olympic Trials. Berens took third in 1:46.14 while Walters placed fifth in 1:46.64. Berens and Walters will be in the pool of athletes available to swim in the 800-meter freestyle relay. Spann, the son of former UT swimming NCAA champ Scott Spann, Sr., punched his ticket to Beijing by winning the 200-meter breaststroke at the trials.
The seven Texas men's swimmers will be joined in Beijing by former UT men's diver Troy Dumais, who qualified for a third Olympiad on June 21 by winning the three-meter springboard event at the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials.
The men's track and field team had three former student-athletes make the American team. All three will be competing in their first Olympic Games. Trey Hardee became the first-ever Longhorn to earn an Olympic berth in the Decathlon, posting a career-high 8,534 points to finish second at the trials. High jumper Andra Manson tied for second at the trials with a leap of 7-5 1/4. Although Manson will be the first Longhorn high jumper to compete for the U.S. in the Olympics, UT has had high jumpers represent other nations in each of the last three Games and five times overall. Leo Manzano capped off the trio of Longhorn Olympic men's track qualifiers with a second-place finish in the 1,500 meters on Sunday. In a tight race throughout, Manzano broke from the pack on the homestretch and held on strong to clock 3:40.90 and finish just .53 seconds behind defending World Champion Bernard Lagat. Manzano becomes the first Longhorn 1,500-meter runner to make the U.S. Olympic squad and the second UT miler to earn an Olympic bid. Paul Craig competed for Canada in the 1976 Olympics.
Three former women's track and field athletes claimed spots on the 2008 U.S. Olympic squad. Sanya Richards, the top 400-meter runner in the world, earned her second bid to the Summer Games with a first-place finish in the 400 meters. Richards paced the field finishing almost a full second ahead of her nearest competition with her season's best time of 49.89. The five-time NCAA Champion and American Record holder (48.70) in the event is competing in her second Olympic Games, having won a gold medal as a member of USA's 1,600-meter relay team in 2004. She also finished sixth in the 400 meters at the 2004 Games.
After a near miss in the 100 meters, Marshevet Hooker earned her first Olympic berth, lunging across the line for a third-place finish in the 200 meters (22.20). She is the seventh Longhorn to qualify in that event over the last four Games. Hooker missed out on a berth in the 100 meters earlier in the week, crossing the line fourth in 10.93, just .03 seconds behind the second and third-place finishers. Michelle Carter became a second-generation Olympian after winning the shot put with a personal-best and U.S.-leading mark of 18.85 meters (61-10 1/4). The seven-time All-American is the daughter of 1984 Olympic shot put silver medalist Michael Carter. Carter becomes the first UT shot putter to earn an Olympic berth and just the fourth non-sprinting Longhorn to qualify for the Summer Games.
The women's swimming and diving team landed one current Longhorn diver and one future swimmer on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Laura Wilkinson, a gold medalist on the platform at the 2000 Sydney Games, secured her third trip to an Olympic Games on June 21 when she claimed the platform event at the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials in Indianapolis. Kathleen Hersey (Roswell, Ga.), who will enroll at UT immediately following the Beijing Olympics, nailed down a spot on the U.S. Olympic swimming team by placing second in the 200-meter butterfly.
Former Texas Softball pitching standout Cat Osterman is making her second Olympic appearance in Beijing after helping Team USA to a gold medal at the Athens Games in 2004. The 6-2 lefthander has led the U.S. to two World Cup Championships (2006-07), a pair of Pan American gold medals (2003, '07) and the 2006 World Championship where she registered a championship record six victories. Osterman is the NCAA all-time leader in strikeout ratio with 14.34 strikeouts per-game and a five-time National Player of the Year who led the Longhorns to the Women's College World Series in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
Taylor Teagarden became the most recent addition to the U.S. Olympic squad when USA Baseball released its roster on July 16. The catcher will become the third former Longhorn baseball player to appear in the Olympics joining Calvin Murray (1992) and Kip Harkrider (1996). Teagarden was a three-year letterwinner at Texas from 2003-05. He was a leading catalyst on the Longhorns' 2005 National Championship squad, batting .333 with 52 runs, 22 doubles, seven home runs and 33 RBI. He was clutch en route to the College World Series title, earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the Austin Regional and being named to the CWS All-Tournament team. He is currently a member of the Texas Rangers organization playing for the Triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS OLYMPIANS ON TEAM USA