Men's Track and Field preview: Texas Invite/Cardinal Invitational
April 29, 2009
INVITE 800: The 800 meters at the Texas Invite should be one of the better races on the day. As it stands, three of the top four times in the nation will be represented in Texas' Jacob Hernandez (1:47.58) and Tevan Everett (1:47.79), along with Baylor's Chris Gowell (1:47.42). In addition, U.S. Olympian at 1,500 meters Lopez Lomong and Tim Bayley, who was a two-time All-American at 800 meters while running for Iona, are scheduled to compete.
DISTANCE GROUP TO STANFORD: Each year, distance runners head out to Palo Alto, Calif. for the Stanford Invitational in hopes of posting a regional qualifying time. Last year, both Kyle Miller and Erik Stanley posted qualifiers in the 1,500 meters. This year, a group of six Longhorns will head to Stanford's campus for the meet. Miller, along with sophomore Logan Gonzalez and freshman Patrick Todd, will compete in the 1,500 meters. Senior Jake Morse and sophomore Rob Wetzel will run the 3,000-meter steeplechase and junior Victor Gras will compete in the 5,000 meters.
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 fourth (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 has the fifth-best mark 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 fifth in the Midwest region and his discus mark ranks seventh.
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 fifth in the Midwest region and his discus mark ranks seventh.
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 the Texas Twilight.