Men's Track and Field preview: The Penn Relays
April 23, 2009
PENN RELAYS PRESENCE: The Longhorns have been one of the most successful teams at the Penn Relays over the last few years. At last year's event, Texas became just the fifth school all-time to pull off the distance triple by winning the 4x800, 4xMile and DMR. The Longhorns defended their 2007 titles in the 4xMile and DMR, while the victory in the 4x800 was UT's first ever win in that event at the Penn Relays. After anchoring the 4xMile and DMR to victory, Leo Manzano was named Outstanding College Relay Performer in both 2007 and '08. Seniors Jacob Hernandez and Kyle Miller will return for this year's Penn Relays after being involved in two of UT's three victorious relays last year. Hernandez anchored the 4x800 and ran the 800-meter leg in the DMR, while Miller ran the third leg of the 4x800 and 4xMile.
REGIONAL QUALIFIERS: Texas currently has 16 individuals and a relay qualified for the Midwest Regional meet. The group is led by seniors Jacob Hernandez and Tevan Everett, who currently have the second (1:47.58) and third (1:47.79) fastest times, respectively, in the nation at 800 meters. The Longhorns have three qualifiers in the 1,500 meters in seniors Jake Morse and Kyle Miller and freshman Patrick Todd. Morse's 3:43.18, which was converted from his 4:01.38 mile time, currently ranks third in the Midwest region. Sophomore Maston Wallace's mark of 5.55m (18-2.50) in the pole vault ranks second nationally, while senior Raymond Harris is currently seventh nationally in the high jump with a 2.19m (7-2.25) clearance. Junior Brandon Drenon has qualified in two events, the shot put (18.14m/59-6.25) and discus (54.18m/177-9). Drenon's mark in the shot put ranks third in the Midwest region and his discus mark ranks fourth.
TWO-TIME NATIONAL CHAMPION: Senior Jacob Hernandez has proven to be the nation's top 800-meter runner over the last year by winning the two most recent national championships in that race. Hernandez claimed his first national title at last year's outdoor championships and followed that up with an indoor title in 2009. The outdoor championship came in one of 2008's most memorable races, when Hernandez held off Oregon's Andrew Wheating by .01 seconds, setting a school record of 1:45.31 in the process. Hernandez defeated Wheating again at the 2009 indoor meet, this time by a half-second (1:48.04-1:48.54). Currently, Hernandez has the nation's second-fastest time, 1:47.58, which he set in winning the Texas Twilight, his first open 800 event of the outdoor season.
WONDER TWINS: Seniors Tevan and Tevas Everett have been heavily involved in UT's success over the past few seasons. After transferring from Kansas State prior to the 2007-08 season, the twins have accounted for eight All-Big 12 honors and four All-America honors. The duo went 1-2 in the 600 yards at the Big 12 Indoor Championships earlier this year, and Tevan went on to claim his first individual All-America honor by finishing sixth in the 800 meters at the national meet. Tevan's 600-yard victory at the conference meet was his second-consecutive indoor conference title in that event at Texas and his third overall. The pair was also half of UT's All-America 4x400-meter relay last year. Tevas ran the opening leg and handed to Tevan for the second leg.
MORSE RETURNS: Senior Jake Morse redshirted during last year's outdoor campaign, but that doesn't mean he wasn't running. Morse used the time to focus on his training for the 3,000-meter Steeplechase in hopes of earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Morse started with an impressive showing at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City, where he finished fifth with a personal-best time of 8:30.19. After competing in various meets the rest of the season, Morse was ready for the Olympic Trials. After qualifying seventh in the semifinals with a time of 8:34.08, Morse ran an 8:34.48 to finish fourth, missing out on an Olympic berth by just one place.
HARRIS' TRIBUTE: Throughout Raymond Harris' career, he's had one thing driving him to succeed, his mother, Brenda. Brenda was there when Harris took up high jumping as a junior in high school and she, along with Harris' high school coach, helped get him going in the sport. It went so well that Harris earned a scholarship in track and field to Texas, turning down offers to play football at LSU and basketball at Baylor. But, Harris had a tough transition to collegiate competition and he was struggling to find his niche. Then, in the winter of his sophomore season, Harris found out that his mother's appendix had burst without her knowing and gangrene had set in, leaving to question whether or not she'd survive. Fortunately, she did and Harris has used her inspiration ever since. Since that time, he's been more focused on high jumping and the result, two All-America honors, one at last year's outdoor meet and one indoors earlier this season, and a Big 12 Indoor Championship.
POINT PRODUCER: Senior Elliot O'Hare has scored in six of his seven Big 12 competitions with the lone exception coming during the indoor season of his freshman year. He also has scored in three different events, the hurdles, triple jump and 4x100-meter relay. After scoring in four consecutive meets in the triple jump at the beginning of his career, O'Hare shifted his focus to the hurdles, where he's scored in the past three conference meets.
DRENON'S DOUBLE: When junior Brandon Drenon was looking for a college, he wanted a good business school that would give him the chance to experience a new environment, one that was different from his home in Pearland, Texas, right outside of Houston. His choice was Notre Dame. After spending two years there, Drenon's academic focus shifted from business to filmmaking and his eyes turned to Texas and its prestigious Radio-Television-Film major. Now, not only is Drenon working to become a director, but his athletic prowess is starting to flourish. The 2008 Big East Champion in the discus, Drenon has already qualified for the regional meet in both the discus and shot put, having set personal bests in both events (Shot Put: 18.14m (59-6.25), Discus: 54.18m (177-9). Drenon's mark in the shot put ranks third in the Midwest region and his discus mark ranks fourth.
TODD'S TRANSITION: Primarily an 800 runner in high school, freshman Patrick Todd has been working at longer distances since he arrived at The University of Texas. First, Todd bumped up to the 1,000 meters for the indoor season. The move worked well as Todd won his first Big 12 Championship and came close to breaking teammate Kyle Miller's school record. Todd is again increasing the distance for the outdoor season, this time to 1,500 meters, and he's already gotten off to a good start. After winning his first ever 1,500 meters at the Texas Relays, Todd posted a regional qualifier of 3:47.25 at last weekend's Texas Twilight.
HOMETOWN BOY: Freshman Doug Moppert will have the opportunity to compete in front of his home crowd at The Penn Relays this weekend. A native of Media, Pa., which is just outside of Philadelphia, Moppert has been competing at the historic meet since the fourth grade. Last year, as a high school senior, Moppert set his prep personal best of 7.11m (23-4) to finish third in the long jump. At Texas, Moppert has already earned an All-Big 12 honor with an eighth-place finish at the indoor conference meet and he posted an outdoor regional qualifier of 7.36m (24-1.75) at the Texas Relays.
4x100 Heats (Friday, 11:35 a.m./Finals: Saturday, 12:25 p.m.)
4x400 Heats (Friday, 3:35 p.m./Finals: Saturday, 4:25 p.m.)
4x800 Championship of America (Saturday, 3:25 p.m.)
Distance Medley Championship of America (Friday, 3 p.m.)
100 Meter Heats (Friday, 2:25 p.m./Finals: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)
110-Meter Hurdle Heats (Friday, 2:30 p.m./Finals: Saturday, 2:05 p.m.)
400-Meter Hurdles (Friday, 8 a.m.)
College High Jump (Friday, 9 a.m.)
Championship High Jump (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.)
College Long Jump (Friday, 2:30 p.m.)
College Javelin (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.)