Men's Track and Field preview: Big 12 Indoor Championships
AUSTIN, Texas -- The third-ranked Texas men's track and field team, led by head coach Bubba Thornton, head to the campus of Iowa State University to defend the league title at the 2007 Big 12 Indoor Track and field Conference Championships. The two-day meet begins on Friday, February 23 at the Lied Recreation Center in Ames, Iowa.
The meet returns to Iowa State for the first time since 2000, marking the third time ISU has played host to the conference championship. Nebraska has hosted seven conference championships (1997, 2001-06) while Kansas State hosted in 1999.
2006 Big 12 Championships Recap... Texas turned an early day-two deficit into a commanding lead on day two, as the Longhorns powered their way to their second Big 12 team title at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships. Texas took top honors with 127 points while host Nebraska placed second with 100 points. UT claimed its first Big 12 indoor title since 1999 and ended Nebraska's stretch of consecutive Big 12 titles at six seasons. The Longhorns quartet of Dylan Wykes, Alan Bean, Tomas Finol, and Leo Manzano became the first UT men's distance-medley relay squad to win a Big 12 title. Texas added three individual-event as Donovan Kilmartin (Eagle, Idaho) won his second consecutive Big 12 heptathlon title, and Andra Manson (Brenham, Texas) added his third straight high jump title. Manzano (Marble Falls, Texas) added a second event title to his first-place DMR performance, winning the mile run for a second consecutive season. Team Rankings This Season... Week 1 (1/15): Texas opened the season with a fourth-place ranking and predicted to score 39 points in the Jan. 15 edition of the Trackwire 25 poll... Week 2 (1/23): UT stays at four in the Trackwire poll despite giving up five points in the scoring column (34 points). Week 3 (1/29): Even though UT performed well at the Roger Cox Multi's Meet, Texas dropped to seventh place and 28 points in the Trackwire 25 poll. The season-opening USTFCCCA poll had the Longhorns as the fifth-best team in the nation. Week 4 (2/5): The Longhorns moved up one spot (6th - 32 points) in the Trackwire 25 poll after beating reigning indoor and outdoor national champions Arkansas and Florida State. The coaches' poll rated UT fifth for the second consecutive week. Week 5 (2/12): Texas holds its highest ranking of the season in the Trackwire 25 poll at third (42). In the coaches' poll, the Longhorns move up to fourth place. Week 5 (2/19): Texas remains in third place with 34 points in the Trackwire 25 poll and fourth in the USTFCCCA coaches' poll.
Manzano Among Nation's Elite... Leo Manzano has the fastest mile time in the nation this year at 3:59.08. The three-time All-American is one of four runners in the country to crack the four-minute mark, and one of only two Longhorns to ever run a sub-four minute mile. Senior Darren Brown (Spring, Texas) is also one of the top milers in the league (fourth) and country (30th) with a season-best, provisional qualifying time of 4:02.97.
Manson Clears Highest Bar... Senior high jumper Andra Manson (Brenham, Texas) is the nation's highest high jumper. The two-time national champion cleared a school-record tying mark of 2.33-meters in winning the Tyson Invitational. His metric mark of 2.33-meters is just ahead of Auburn's Donald Thomas (2.30-meters) and Kansas State's Scott Sellers (2.28-meters). Manson entered that meet tied with Thomas after he cleared the same height (2.30-meters) in winning an unprecedented fourth New Balance Collegiate Invitational high jump. In that meet, he improved his then-personal best clearance by a half inch and reset the Armory and New Balance Track and Center records.
Distance Medley Relay Clocks Second Fastest Time in the Country... The distance medley relay team - seniors Darren Brown and Hamza Deyaf (Richardson, Texas), and juniors Jacob Hernandez (Magnolia, Texas) and Manzano - recorded the nation's second-fastest DMR time of 9:38.86 in winning the Tyson Invitational. UT finished ahead of second-place Oklahoma by six seconds, and host-school and 2006 NCAA DMR National Champion Arkansas by nearly 11 seconds. Stanford has a five-second lead on the Texas quartet with the country's top mark of 9:33.16.
Kilmartin Leading Heptathlon Charge... Senior Donovan Kilmartin (Eagle, Idaho) has the nation's top mark in the heptathlon. The two-time national champion won the Roger Cox Multi's Meet with a score of 5,700 points and bettered the automatic qualifying standard of 5,650 points. He was one of two Longhorns to finish in the top six at the combined events meet. Although it was his first combined events performance of the season, Kilmartin did compete in the open 60-meter hurdles (8.83 seconds) and the shot put (14.67-meters) at the NYC Gotham Cup.
Kilmartin Adds Provisional in Pole Vault... As if leading one area is not enough, Kilmartin is also a provisional qualifier and ranked fifth in the conference in the pole vault. He cleared 5.20-meters in the pole vault in taking ninth at the Tyson Invitational.
Hardee Ranked Among League and National Leaders in Open Events... Senior combined events competitor Trey Hardee (Birmingham, Ala.) is ranked third in the conference and No. 19 in the nation in the open 60-meter hurdles this season with a 7.89 clip. He also has the sixth-farthest long jump mark in the Big 12, after hitting the sand in 7.36-meters at the Tyson Invitational.
Morse and Washburn In Mix In the 3000m... Junior harrier Jake Morse (Arlington, Texas) is second in the Big 12 and No. 26 in the nation in the 3000-meter run, after scorching the track in 8:00.43 at the Tyson Invitational. Transfer Owen Washburn (Amherst, Mass.) is also in the top 10 in the conference, as his 8:12.37 clip is the ninth fastest in the league.
Middleton and Wilson Potential Scorers in 5000m... Senior All-American Andrew Middleton (College Station, Texas) holds the No. 4 spot in the league in the 5000-meter run. He moved into the top 10 in the Big 12 with a 14:13.15 mark at the Tyson Invitational. Senior Ryan Wilson (Wichita, Kan.) is 10th among conference runners with a 14:42.01 time.
Hernandez Heats Up 800m... Junior transfer Jacob Hernandez (Magnolia, Texas) currently has the tenth fastest time in the league with an 800-meter mark of 1:51.46. He set the season-best in taking second in the event at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational on February 2.
O'Hare Places In Top Ten In Two Events... Sophomore Elliot O'Hare (Austin, Texas) has a season-best mark of 7.99 in the 60-meter hurdles. His time, posted at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, gives him the No. 7 position in the event heading into the conference championships. He doubles as a threat in the triple jump, with the league's seventh farthest distance at 15.33-meters.
Davis is Texas' Top Threat in the Triple Jump... Junior Joseph Davis (San Antonio, Texas) is projected to score points for the Longhorns, as the team's top triple jumper. Davis has a season-best mark of 15.39-meters, posted in an event win at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. He sits two inches ahead of teammate O'Hare in the event. Davis is one centimeter away from the provisional standard distance of 15.40-meters.
Harris and Hargett Help Depth In High Jump... One of two events with more than three competitors, the high jump seems a consistent area of talent for UT. With the nine conference championships (six in the Big 12, three in the SWC), that group is anchored by multi-time national champion Manson, and junior Joel Hargett (Conroe, Texas) and sophomore Raymond Harris (Nacogdoches, Texas). Harris is fourth in the league with a season-best clearance of 2.13-meters while Hargett is tied for fifth at 2.11-meters.
Heavy Heptathlon Group Looks To Win and Score... By and far the deepest group on the Longhorns' track team is the heptathlon. National leader Kilmartin is the favorite for a conference and national championship, but he has a wealth of help on the horizon. Sophomore Andrew Webb (Midland, Texas) boasts a season-best point total of 5,247, just 53 points shy of provisionally qualifying. Right on his heels is the third Longhorn in the top eight - junior national champion decathlete Shawn Schmidt (Plano, Texas). Schmidt has a collegiate-best point total o f 4,936. Sophomore Dustin Bynum (Corpus Christi, Texas) is 12th overall in the event (4,624 points). All of the decathletes registered marks at the Roger Cox Multi's Meet.