UT Tower to be lit on August 31 in honor of Women's Track and Field
AUSTIN, Texas -- The University of Texas women's track and field team will officially cap its celebration of the NCAA Outdoor Track Championship when the program lights the UT Tower in honor of the national title on Wednesday evening, Aug. 31. As is tradition when a Longhorn team wins a national championship, the UT Tower will be bathed in burnt orange lighting with a "No. 1" lit in white on all four sides of the campus landmark.
On Wednesday evening, fans and community members are invited to attend the Tower lighting at 8:15 p.m.; at this time, the entire Longhorn track and field coaching staff and team will be present for the traditional team photo in front of the illuminated Tower. The photo will be taken at the 21st Street side of the UT Tower (at the Littlefield Fountain). Please note: the south side of the UT Tower - at 21st street - is a different spot than where past UT Tower team national championship team photos have been taken.
Head coach Bev Kearney's track and field squad brought the program's fifth NCAA championship (third outdoor crown to go with two indoor titles) back to Austin in June. Remarkably, Texas won the 2005 outdoor event, held in Sacramento, Calif., with only seven competitors.
"It was important to our program that we wait until our full team was back on campus before we lit the UT Tower in honor winning the NCAA championship," noted Kearney, selected the 2005 Women's Outdoor Coach and Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
"I also wanted to recognize this accomplishment with coaches and student-athletes from all our teams," Kearney continued. "When I first came to Texas in 1995, one of the first events I attended was the Tower lighting for our 1995 women's tennis national champions. That event had a huge impact on me and gave me even more motivation to bring track national championships back to Austin."
Texas won the final event of the 2005 NCAA outdoor meet (the 4x400 meter relay which was run by then-juniors Sheretta Jones, Melaine Walker and LaTashia Kerr along with then-sophomore anchor Jerrika Chapple) to clinch the NCAA title with a first-place finish of 3:27.13. The Longhorns trailed UCLA by three points and were five points ahead of South Carolina heading into the 4x400-meter relay, and finished with 55 points after the 4x400 win. UCLA, without a team in the mile relay, and South Carolina ended up tied for second with 48 points apiece.
The NCAA victory was made that more special due to Kearney's two-plus year struggle to recover from a nearly-paralyzing auto accident which occurred in Florida in December of 2002 and claimed the lives of two of her closest friends.
"I don't think you realize the magnitude of winning a national championship and seeing the pride that people have for our UT athletics program when you are competing," concluded Kearney. "To be able to have our entire track team present for the Tower lighting and to share that experience with all the Longhorn student-athletes and coaches and with our supporters will be something special."