Women's Track & Field preview: Big 12 Championships
Feb. 20, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Women's Track & Field team will travel to Ames, Iowa this weekend to compete in the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Due to significant weather impact through the middle of the country, the meet has been moved to Saturday and Sunday at Lied Recreation Center.
In addition to No. 13 Texas, three other teams in the conference are ranked in this week's edition of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national poll: No. 5 Kansas, No. 12 Iowa State, and No. 22 Oklahoma State.
"The ladies are excited for this weekend and everyone is really in `can't wait' mode," Texas interim head coach Rose Brimmer said. "The goal this weekend is twofold: perform the best you can among conference competitors, and also put a mark out there that will hold up to get you into the national meet in two weeks."
The Longhorns will send a squad of 24, nearly all of who will compete in two or three events during the weekend. The team will include seniors Mia Behm, Kendra Chambers, Chalonda Goodman, Natasha Masterson and Alicia Peterson; juniors Shanay Briscoe, A'Lexus Brannon, Danielle Dowie, Marielle Hall, Katie Hoaldridge, Brittany Marches, Briana Nelson, Sara Sutherland and Christy Udoh; sophomores Chamique Francis, Jessica Harper, Kaitlin Petrillose, Megan Siebert and Morgan Snow; redshirt freshman Connor Ward and freshmen Bernice Bamgbade, Kiersten Duncan, Melissa Gonzalez and Courtney Okolo.
"This group is in such an excellent place both mentally and physically," Brimmer said. "I have veteran distance runners who are going to show up and be great leaders this weekend. We have an excellent 400-meter core, we have a great 200 group and I also think we're going to have some surprises in some events."
Since the league's inception for the 1996-97 season, Texas has won a conference-best five Big 12 indoor team titles on the women's side among current members. The Longhorns placed second as a team at last year's indoor conference meet, with Chambers bringing home her second 600-yard title in as many seasons to lead the squad. In 2011, Briscoe and Hall won titles in the high jump and 1,000-meters, respectively, joining Chambers as individual champions.
UT has 17 marks over 13 events that rank in the top five on the Big 12 performance list this season, including the top three 400-meter times in the conference from Dowie (52.92), Okolo (53.10) and Nelson (53.55). Also posting top performances in the league heading into championship weekend are Briscoe in the high jump (6-2/1.88m) and Texas' 4x400-meter relay team of Dowie, Nelson, Chambers and Okolo, whose 3:30.95 time from the Tyson Invitational is the top mark nationally among the collegiate ranks in 2013.
The Longhorns also enter the weekend with a No. 2 mark from Udoh in the 200-meter (23.98) as well as third-ranking marks from Dowie (200m, 23.75), Chambers (800-meter, 2:07.32), Behm (5,000-meter, 16:11.96), Snow (60-meter hurdles, 8.26), Kaitlin Petrillose (pole vault, 13-9.25/4.20m) and A'Lexus Brannon (long jump, 20-5.25/6.23m).
Joining Texas' 4x400m relay on the national performance list are five other marks that rank in the top 10. The Longhorns' 4x400m relay team of Chambers, Nelson, Udoh and Okolo hold the third-best mark in the nation of 3:31.69, and Dowie and Okolo's 400m season bests are good for fifth and ninth in the event, respectively. Briscoe sits tied for fifth nationally in high jump, and Brannon is tied for 10th in long jump.
"My main mantra this week that I'm sharing with the girls is to stay positive and score," Brimmer said. "When you're competing in multiple events, as many of them will be, when one event is over you need to look at it, evaluate it and move on to the next. If we put every race on the track at the level that we know we are capable of competing, I think it's going to be an exciting weekend."
TEXAS ENTRIES - BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIPS (All times Central)
SUNDAY, FEB. 24