Men's Track and Field: 2007-08 season in review
July 26, 2008
The Texas Longhorns men's track and field team entered the 2007-08 season with high expectations. It was coming off its second straight season of Top 20 NCAA finishes in the three event categories, cross country, indoor and outdoor track. A host of veterans returned, including NCAA Champions Donovan Kilmartin and Leo Manzano, and a group of newcomers were expected to score at both the conference and national meets.
The result was one of the best overall seasons in the program's history. The Horns started the year by finishing 17th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships followed by a third-place finish at the indoor national meet and a fourth-place finish at the outdoor meet. With three more Top 20 finishes, Texas became the only program nationally to notch Top 20 NCAA finishes in cross country, indoor and outdoor track for the past three years. In addition, the Horns became just the second program in Big 12 history to win three consecutive indoor conference titles.
Individually, the Horns produced five National Championships, 15 All-Americans and 39 All-Big 12 performers. Senior Leo Manzano led the team by winning national titles in the mile and distance medley relay indoors and the 1,500 meters outdoors. Junior Jacob Hernandez, who will return for his senior season in 2009, won the 800 meters outdoors and was on the indoor distance medley relay championship team. Freshman Maston Wallace became just the third Longhorn to win an outdoor national title in the pole vault.
Texas also was represented internationally when five Longhorns competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Former Horns Trey Hardee (Decathlon) and Andra Manson (high jump) were joined by Manzano (1,500 meters), Hernandez (800 meters) and Jake Morse (3,000-Meter Steeplechase) at the meet. Hardee, Manson and Manzano all placed second in their respective events to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Hernandez placed ninth, while Morse finished fourth, missing a spot on the Olympic team by one place.
The Longhorns that made the team will see a familiar face when they travel to China. Texas men's track and field head coach Bubba Thornton was named the U.S. Olympic men's track and field head coach in March of 2007. Along with his duties at Texas, Thornton has been a staple of international competition, having been the head coach of the 2003 World Championship team and an assistant on the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games staff.
The Horns claimed four All-Big 12 honors (Top 15) and their fourth consecutive Top Three finish at the conference meet. UT placed three runners in the Top 10 with Stanley (sixth), junior Kyle Miller (seventh) and Manzano (ninth) followed by Washburn (14th) and Morse (22nd).
INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
The Horns went on to notch their fourth Top Four finish in the last five years at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Manzano claimed his second consecutive national title in the mile and anchored the DMR to the program's first ever relay national championship. Tevan Everett, Fortson and Hernandez were the other members of the DMR. Senior Jake Morse gave UT a 1-2 finish in the mile, while freshman Maston Wallace grabbed third place in the pole vault.
In addition to the national and conference accomplishments, the team of Fortson, Hernandez, Miller and Manzano set the world record in the DMR at the Tyson Invitational on February 16 with a 9:25.97, which bettered the previous mark by almost two seconds. Miller ran the 1,200-meters in 2:54.11 before exchanging with the second leg, Fortson, who rounded the track in 46.90 for the 400-meter segment. Hernandez was timed at 1:47 in the 800-meter portion of the race, while Manzano ran the final 1,600-meters in 3:57.96.
As a result of their outstanding seasons, Manzano was named the USTFCCCA National Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, associate head coach Jason Vigilante was tabbed National Assistant Coach of the Year and head coach Bubba Thornton earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.
OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
The Horns added to their streak of Top Three finishes at the outdoor conference meet. Texas has only finished outside the Top Three once in the league's 12-year history. At the 2008 meet, UT had 19 athletes earn all-conference honors and three individual conference champions. Senior Donovan Kilmartin won his second outdoor crown in the decathlon, Manzano claimed his third 1,500-meter title and Hernandez nabbed his first outdoor conference championship in the 800 meters.
Earlier in the season, Texas made history at the Penn Relays by pulling off the distance triple. The Horns claimed victories in the 4x800, 4xMile and DMR. UT became just the fifth school in Penn Relays history to accomplish the feat. Manzano earned his second consecutive Most Outstanding Performer award after anchoring both the 4xMile and the DMR to victory.
Manzano also earned the Texas Relays Most Outstanding Performer award after winning the Jerry Thompson Mile in 3:56.98, which broke Richard Romo's 42-year-old school record of 3:58.8. He wasn't the only Longhorn to break four minutes in that race. Brown posted a 3:59.99 to join his father, Barry, as the first father-son duo in American history to break four minutes in the mile.
Seniors Donovan Kilmartin and Ryan Wilson were tabbed as Academic All-Americans by the USTFCCCA. Kilmartin also earned ESPN The Magazine's top honor when he was named the Academic All-American of the Year. It marked the third time he was named an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American.
Senior Leo Manzano claimed the most prestigious award at the 2008 Academic Awards Banquet, the Texas Exes Leadership Award. The honor is presented annually to recognize a student-athlete who embodies the attributes that are valued in alumni leadership. Such attributes include academic excellence, unselfish team play, desire to excel, service to the community and respected leadership. The winner of the award receives a Life Membership to the Texas Exes, funded by the President's Leadership Award Endowment created by Frank Denius in 1985. Manzano became the second consecutive winner of the award from the men's track and field program after Kilmartin won the award last year.