Men's Track and Field's Stewart starting to feel at home in Texas
April 19, 2010
Kfir Goldberg, Texas Media Relations
Texas freshman Keiron Stewart may be running in a new country, but as he's becoming more comfortable, he's regaining the form that made him one of the world's best junior hurdlers.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Stewart had a very successful prep career at Kingston College, and left school as the Jamaican junior record holder in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.49.
While his hurdling ability was highly coveted by a lot of NCAA track and field programs, Texas head coach Bubba Thornton knew Stewart had more to offer the Longhorns' track team than just his speed.
"[Keiron] has the talent that never leaves you," Thornton said. "But, he's also one of those guys that has such a great personality, and a sense of responsibility and hard work."
In only his first year at Texas, Stewart has made a huge transition running for a new school over 1,500 miles from home.
"Here at Texas, week in and week out you have to run harder," noted Stewart. "Back home, you didn't have to compete each weekend, so now you put more pressure on yourself and run hard during the week to be prepared for every meet."
Even being so far from home, Stewart is quick to mention the family atmosphere here in Austin that has made adjusting to Longhorn life much easier.
"Everybody loves UT," Stewart explained. "If you go anywhere, people know you and you feel right at home."
In addition to getting comfortable with life as a Longhorn, Stewart came into his first year at UT with very high expectations on the track. So, when he failed to qualify for the finals in the 400-meter hurdles at the Texas Relays, Stewart was not content with his performance. Two weeks later, he was determined to show his world-class ability at the Texas vs. Arkansas Dual Meet.
"I had to learn to keep my composure, and make sure I got my rhythm down," the freshman said.
Stewart seemed to find that rhythm as he improved upon his Relays performance, while placing first in all three events he participated in at the dual. He won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.60, the fourth fastest mark in the nation this year, claimed the 400-meter hurdles with a 51.81, which was almost four seconds faster than his Relays performance, and ran the third leg on UT's victorious 4x100-meter relay.
Coach Thornton emphasized Stewart's vast improvement from the last meet.
"We had to get that first big meet (Texas Relays) out of the way," Thornton explained. "We fell short and got frustrated. But, we got refocused, talked about how we were going to run the races. He followed the plan, and we were very successful."
The next step in Stewart's transition is building. Building on his most recent performances and continuing to improve the rhythm you need to be successful in the hurdles. He'll have the opportunity to take that next step when he and the Longhorns travel to the Penn Relays in Philadelphia this weekend, where Stewart will have the chance to run in front of a large Jamaican contingent.
He'll run in front of his countrymen, but for the first time, he'll be wearing Texas' burnt orange, representing his second home.