Men's Track and Field finishes No. 14, leads Big 12 schools at NCAA Championships
SACRAMENTO -- The Texas men's track and field team finished first among all conference schools, and 14th overall in the nation, scoring 17 points to end the 2007 NCAA Division I Outdoor National Championships at Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex on Saturday, June 9.
Two-time NCAA National Champion and Texas junior Leo Manzano (Marble Falls, Texas) scored eight of nine of UT's final-day points with an NCAA runner-up finish in the 1,500-meter run. Junior hurdler Hamza Deyaf added a point in the 400-meter hurdles.
In the team race, Florida State won a second consecutive NCAA outdoor title scoring 54 total points. LSU finished in second (28 points), ahead of Auburn (34), Tennessee (31), and Southern California (27).
UT's 17 points and 14th-place performance led the Big 12 Conference schools at this season's NCAA outdoor meet. Reigning Big 12 Champion Oklahoma tied for 15th (16 points) with fellow league program Baylor and the PAC-10's Washington. Current conference schools Kansas State and Kansas tied for 18th, scoring 15 points. Texas A&M tallied 13 points to tie for No. 22. Colorado tied with N.C. State for No. 37 (eight points) while Texas Tech and Iowa State tied with four other schools for No. 41 (six points). 2007 Co-Big 12 Indoor Champion Nebraska manager four-and-a-half points for No. 54 overall.
Manzano solidified his spot as one of the top middle distance runners in the country, crossing the finish line with a season-best and second fastest mark in UT school history (3:37.48). It is the second time in three seasons he has run a 3:37 at the track at the Hornet Stadium track. The three-time NCAA Midwest Region Champion and UT school record holder (at 3:37.13) was edged at the line by Northern Arizona's Lopez Lomong (3:37.07).
"Leo ran a good race, it just wasn't good enough today," said Texas head coach Bubba Thornton, who served a dual role at this year's meet as a member of the NCAA Division I Track and Field committee. "He wanted to win and tried to win. You have to give the field credit. The winner (Lomong) was outstanding. Again, I'm proud of our guys. I was hoping we could figure a few things out with Samyr but it didn't happen. This is what we've accomplished this year, and so we're going to keep trying."
"I just went out there and tried to stay up front," said Manzano. "When I thought I had it, I decided to go. I think I went a little bit too early, I should have waited a little bit. Other than that, it was a good race and (Lomong) was the best man today. Almost everyone in the field had a personal best. I might have been the only guy in the field who did not have a personal best. It just goes to show the level of competition that was running out there today."
A second Longhorn ran in the strong 1500-meter run in junior Erik Stanley. The Spring, Texas native ran the fastest race of his career (3:41.82) and moved higher on UT's all-time top 10 rankings. One of five automatic qualifiers from the NCAA Midwest Region, Stanley ends the season as the third fastest all-time performer ever at Texas.
In the first race of the day, Deyaf (Richardson, Texas) earned his first All-American honor, clearing the hurdles in 51.24 seconds.
"Before I even came here, I said a realistic goal of making it to the finals and I made it there," said a winded Deyaf after completing his lap over each hurdle and around the track. "I have more confidence now, and I can do better. It wasn't until the prelims and the semifinals that I really started to go at it. I ran a fast time in the prelims, and then another fast time in the semifinals. I went at it because I wanted to make it to the finals. Hopefully next year, I'll make it and place higher."
Coming off a career-best performance in both the qualifying round (50.56) and in the semifinals (50.60), Deyaf ended the 2007 season with top five performances at the Big 12 and NCAA Midwest Region Championships. On paper, the third-year Longhorn showed his ability to step up in big meets, moving from No. 17 on the national list to eighth in the championship finals.
"In (running in) lane one on this track, he ran a great race," said Thornton. "More importantly, I'm proud of this guy who walked on to our program, has become an All-American, and helped us achieve our goal of being in the top 15. I'm really proud of him and his contribution."
In his final competition at Texas, Harvard alum and Texas graduate student Samyr Laine (Newburgh, N.Y.) used his second jump of 49-1.75 (14.98m) to finish 13th overall in the finals.
Laine had a strong opening half of the 2007 outdoor season as his mark of 53-6.25 (16.31m) from the Texas Twilight held the No. 1 jump for two weeks, and then No. 2 for the remainder of the outdoor campaign. In just a single outdoor season on the Forty Acres, Laine leaves his impression as the sixth all-time farthest triple jumper to ever wear burnt orange. He is the first person since 2000 to crack the elite top nine all-time Longhorn performers list.
Texas will have a short break before heading to the United States Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., from Thursday-Saturday, June 21-24, 2007.
2007 NCAA Championships
400-meter hurdles final
Triple jump final