Richards-Ross headlines former UT standouts on final day of Texas Relays
March 31, 2012
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- The final day of the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays is unquestionably the most majestic, and this Saturday was no different, thanks to a cloudless sky, penetrating sun and the infamous collective energy of the more than 20,000 spectators inside Mike A. Myers Stadium.
As runners sprint their way down the final straightaway, on the eastern stretch of the track, the crowd stands in near unison, cheering in a forceful rhythm that propels runners to the finish.
It was this memory that brought former Texas standout Raasin McIntosh back to racing. The 2003 USA Outdoor champion in the 400-meter hurdles, McIntosh is also cemented in UT's national championship history, but after graduation in 2004, she thought she was finished competing.
However, her victory in the 400 invitational hurdles - one of the first running events on Saturday - signaled McIntosh's return to the sport, with her sights on the Olympic Trials in June.
"It took me about six years before I came back. I know it's my destiny," McIntosh said. "It never went away. I had to do a lot of growing up when I initially stopped running. I learned to appreciate, and I remembered who I was.
"Once I remembered who I was, I began the mission and the journey to get back."
McIntosh's emphatic re-entrance to the sport was merely a foreshadow of what was in store for the rest of the day. McIntosh was a relay running mate of Sanya Richards-Ross back in college, and Richards-Ross electrified the fans with her return to the Texas Relays for the first time since 2010.
Though a world champion in the 400 meters, Richards-Ross competed in the 100-meter invitational as a training run. She won her heat with a personal-best time of 10.89, and had enough of an advantage as she neared the line to raise her hand in a victory wave to the delighted crowd.
"I didn't originally plan to come here so quickly after the indoor season," said Richards-Ross, who also ran in the 4x400 meter relay. "I want to be a leader by example, and since it's an Olympic year, I wanted people to know I was competing. It was exciting for me to come here."
Saturday felt much like a who's-who reunion of Texas Women's Track and Field history. McIntosh, Richards-Ross and Nicole Denby were all part of a prolific national championship stretch under Beverly Kearney in 2003 and 2004.
Denby, who gave birth to her first child two years ago, won the 2004 national title in the 100-meter hurdles, and she won the invitational event on Saturday with a season-best time of 12.78.
"I decided to come back to Bev, and she's already working magic again like she always has. I'm just glad to be coming back into my own," Denby said.
Alexandria Anderson, who won the 2009 title in the 100 meters, has continued to train in Austin since graduating that year, and she competed Saturday in the 4x400 relay.
"It felt like I was in college," Anderson said. "This is home. I run on this track everyday."
Anderson describes the unique reality of the Texas Relays. Though it's a premier outdoor meet that attracted more than 39,000 spectators throughout the four days of competition, it continues to have a quaint, comfortable feel.
That's in part due to the reliable crew of volunteer officials who return to this meet year after year. Chester Bradley, for instance, has been officiating the relays for 58 years, dating back to his final year as a UT student.
Bradley ran the timing crew for 35 years and has worked the field events ever since.
"I like to officiate track and field meets, so I keep coming back," Bradley said. "I am an alumnus of this university, and I'm loyal to it."
Bradley's sentiments aren't much different than that of the runners, as evidenced by the Saturday appearances of Anderson, Denby, McIntosh and Richards-Ross.
"I can remember traveling all over the world, going to big championships, and I would bring the spirit of Texas Relays with me in order to get in that mode," McIntosh said. "I love running here."
2012 Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays Performance Awards
Most Outstanding Teams
Most Outstanding Athletes
Texas Relays Attendance