No. 11 Women's Track & Field epitomizes teamwork at Big 12 Indoor Championships
Feb. 26, 2013
Elissa Schneiderman, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas -- Track & field is often thought of as an individual sport, but this weekend at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, the Longhorns demonstrated all the best qualities of teamwork.
"They made up their minds before they came here that it was going to be a total team effort," interim head coach Rose Brimmer said of her team on Sunday. "They were warriors."
In the end, Texas narrowly missed winning the team title, falling just 2 ½ points short of Kansas and finishing with a total of 148 points. Nevertheless, Brimmer is proud of her team's dedication and performance.
"There is not one person on this team that wouldn't have competed in any event that I asked them to," Brimmer said. "Second place is a hard pill to swallow, but I wouldn't trade this team for any other team in the country, because I know that they will give me what I ask of them."
Junior Shanay Briscoe set the tone early for the Longhorns in exceeding individual expectations for the benefit of the team. On the first day of the two-day event, Briscoe competed in the first pentathlon of her collegiate career. She won both the high jump and shot put events en route to earning 4,027 points for fourth place out of 18 participants.
Briscoe's performance set a domino effect in motion, and sophomore Kaitlin Petrillose kept it rolling with a win in the pole vault. Her clearance of 14-2.5 (4.33m) was not only a personal best, but also bettered a Texas school record that she set on Jan. 25. Senior Natasha Masterson placed third in the event with a season-best jump of 13-2.5 (4.03m), adding crucial points to the UT scoreboard.
Three more Longhorns scored on day one in the 5,000-meters. Junior Sara Sutherland was UT's top performer in the event, crossing the finish line third with a season-best time of 16:12.02. Not far behind was senior Mia Behm, who placed eighth.
Immediately following the 5,000m and without even exiting the track, Sutherland lined up for the 1,200-meter first leg of the distance medley relay for the Horns. It was a move teammate Briana Nelson said "took a lot of guts."
"That's an indication of how big the team play was," Brimmer said of Sutherland's quick turn-around. "It was huge for us."
A Texas squad made up of Sutherland, Nelson, Kendra Chambers and Marielle Hall surprised everyone with a first-place finish in the DMR. These women had never run a DMR together before and were up against several teams running with fresh legs.
The DMR was a display of unselfishness. Aside from Sutherland's five kilometers, every other member had similarly logged mileage during day one's preliminaries and qualified for day two's finals. Hall raced in the Mile, with Chambers competing in the 800-meters and Nelson in the 400-meters.
Nevertheless, the veteran quartet made up of four All-Americans demonstrated experience, composure and adaptability in the DMR.
"Texas recruits quality and I think that's what we showed in the DMR," Chambers said. "We're a quality team and we're very versatile. A lot of teams don't have the depth that we do."
The DMR was an exclamation point on a productive first day for Texas. The Horns tallied 46 points in only six scored events. They also had 15 athletes qualify for Sunday's finals out of eight event preliminaries.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Brimmer said that her team's objective was to score as much and in as many events as possible. With two and even three Horns competing in some events, Texas was positioned to rack up a considerable amount of points on day two.
"We need to have a decent first day in order to have a shot at the second day," Brimmer said. "We try to get as many people into the finals as we can, because we're not the type of team that usually scores huge on the first day."
Ultimately, Texas scored in 17 of 19 total events, and it was Briscoe again who helped set the bar high on Sunday in winning her fourth conference high jump title.
UT's depth in the quarter-mile carried Briscoe's momentum forward and secured major points for the Horns. Texas qualified a trio of quarter-milers for the 400-meter finals: Nelson, freshman Courtney Okolo and junior Danielle Dowie.
With a season-best time of 52.72, Okolo was UT's top performer in the 400m, finishing second. On her heels were Dowie in third and Nelson in fourth.
The trio then combined with Chambers to win the Big 12 title in the 4x400-meter relay. Texas' squad presently holds the second-fastest time in the nation in the event, which they set earlier this month at the Tyson Invitational.
UT athletes continued to peak at key moments on Sunday. Junior Christy Udoh and senior Chalonda Goodman each set new PRs in the 200m. Udoh finished second with a time of 23.29 and Goodman took third with a time of 23.34. Later, Goodman set a personal-best time of 7.39 while taking third in the 60-meters, finishing with four PRs in two events on the weekend. Hall finished second in the Mile and also posted a season-best time of 4:47.59.
Racing an event she recently picked up in order to help her team secure additional points, Chambers placed third in the 800m.
"The 800 is still a new thing for me," Chambers said. "It was a learning experience. It feels good to be a solid point-getter for the team and I like knowing that they can depend on me."
Texas will send representatives to the Last Chance meets at Arkansas and Notre Dame this weekend to attempt to qualify for the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships, which will take place at the University of Arkansas on March 8 and 9.