National Championship moments: 1998 Women's Outdoor Track and Field
In 1998, Texas' bid to win its first NCAA Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championship since 1986 depended on the outcome of the meet's final event. At a crucial time, the Longhorns received a clutch performance that helped thrust UT back to the head of the class.
The Longhorns trailed UCLA by five points entering the 4x400 meter relay and needed at least a third-place finish to be crowned national champions. The relay crew of Angel Patterson, Toya Brown, Aminah Haddad and Suziann Reid came through for UT, winning the event in 3:28.65 to give Texas a total of 60 points and the NCAA Championship. UCLA finished second with 55 points, followed by Brigham Young and Southern Methodist tied for third with 45 points apiece.
Texas scored 50 of its 60 points on the final day of action to dethrone 11-time defending champion LSU, which finished 22nd with 11 points. The victory gave Texas its sixth NCAA Championship and marked the second time in school history UT won both the indoor and outdoor crowns, previously accomplishing the feat in 1986.
Texas put 10 points on the board on the third day of competition, winning the 4x100 meter relay on the legs of Kim McGruder, Nanceen Perry, Angie Vaughn and LaKeisha Backus. The quartet crossed the line in 42.76, the second-fastest time in NCAA history at the time, to break LSU's six-year NCAA hold on the event.
The Horns entered the fourth and final day trailing first-place LSU by 30 points. Vaughn helped close the gap with her victory in the 100-meter hurdles, crossing the line in 12.81 to become the first student-athlete in school history to earn the national title in the event. Reid, who broke her own school record in the 400-meter run preliminaries with a 50.86, took the 400 gold for the second time in 1998 and the third time in her career with a 51.22. Brown added a fourth-place finish in 52.60.
Erin Aldrich continued the repeat champion theme, adding the outdoor high jump title to the indoor crown she won in March. Aldrich broke her own UT record with a winning jump of 6-4. Southern Methodist's Kajsa Bergqvist also jumped 6-4, but Aldrich was declared the winner by virtue of missing on just four total attempts to Bergqvist's five.
Backus added a combined five points in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, finishing sixth (11.31) and seventh (23.31), respectively.
Backus and Liz Diaz each won two individual titles and Vaughn was the meet's high-point scorer as the Longhorns won the 1998 Big 12 Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship. Texas entered the final day of action in 12th place with zero points, but exploded for 151 throughout the afternoon to win their eighth straight outdoor league title. Nebraska finished second with 113 points and Baylor third with 98.83.
The Longhorns did most of the damage in the sprint events where they racked up a collective 74 points and titles in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes.
UT won a total of eight titles on the final day with Backus and Diaz accounting for four. Backus won the 100 in meet-record fashion, crossing the line in 11.25 to lead a 1-2-3 Texas sweep. She returned to tie the meet record in the 200, winning the league title in 22.783 to start a 1-2-3-4 Longhorn blitz and become just the fourth Longhorn to win both events at the conference meet. Backus also anchored the UT's winning 4x100 meter relay (43.64) to finish the day with 22.5 points.
Diaz won conference titles in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs to become just the third Longhorn in school history to win both events at the conference meet.
Vaughn racked up 28.5 points at the three-day meet, winning the 100-meter hurdle crown, finishing runner-up to Backus in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and running the third leg of the 4x100 meter relay.
Reid won her second straight outdoor 400-meter dash crown with the nation's fastest time of the year (51.21), followed by Brown in second.
Alrich shocked no one by taking top honors in the high jump with a winning effort of 6-0 ¾, but freshman Tonya Wallace provided the biggest surprise of the meet with a second-place outing in the high jump (5-8 ¾). It was the best jump of either the indoor or outdoor seasons for Wallace, who was competing in her first conference meet as a Longhorn.
Katrina Eklof and McGruder also provided solid contributions to the Longhorn effort at the Big 12 championships. Eklof finished second in the javelin (166-2), while McGruder tallied 14 points by finishing third in the 100- and 200-meter dashes along with running the leadoff leg for the 4x100 meter relay.