The Texas women bring it home

By Sam Fariss for RunBlogRun

SACRAMENTO – The University of Texas entered 22 female athletes into the NCAA West Regionals this past weekend. Competing against renowned track and field programs such as Texas A&M, Oregon, BYU, and more, the Longhorns were able to earn a whopping 13 qualifying spots in the championships.

This year, the NCAA Track and Field Championship meet will be at these athletes’ home field in Austin, Texas: Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium.

Kicking off the burnt orange lineup was Marilyn Nwora, a shot put athlete, who earned 5th place and a personal best with a throw of 18.14 meters. This toss bested all of the top finishers at the eastern regional competition.

Following suit in finding success at the field events, Ackelia Smith had a jaw-dropping weekend, earning a qualifying spot in both the long jump and triple jump competitions. Smith’s first attempt in the long jump ended up pushing her into 1st place with a distance of 6.69 meters. Meanwhile, her triple jump performance was Smith’s season-best at 13.96 meters, earning her 2nd place in the contest.

Rounding out Texas’ qualifiers from the field events was Chrystal Herpin in the discus throw. In her sophomore season for the Longhorns, Herpin threw for a season-best 54.29 meters and a spot at the national meet. While this toss placed Herpin in 11th at the NCAA East Regionals, it would have earned her a top-eight finish at the western regional meet.

While moving past field events and into the sprint events, the Texas women certainly did not slow down. The team entered four athletes into the competition’s 200-meter and 100-meter fields – Julien Alfred, Ezinne Abba, Lanae Thomas, and Kevona Davis. All four qualified for nationals in both events.

Arguably the most notable results from their races were Alfred’s 10.83s finish in the 100m, earning a top four performance by a Longhorn and the fastest ever in the first round at a regional competition, as well as Abba’s 10.98s (PB) finish to earn her the number five spot in UT’s record book. Thomas also ran a personal best in Sacramento with a time of 11.06 seconds.

Going a step further, Rhasidat Adeleke and Kennedy Simmon will be competing in the 400-meter competition at nationals. Adeleke crossed the finish line in just 49.54 seconds, the second-fastest collegian time ever. Simmon, not far behind, crossed in 51.17 seconds.

Simmon and Adeleke also found success in the 4x400m race later that day, joined by teammates Rachel Helbling and DeJanae Oakley. The Longhorns finished in 3rd with a time of 3:27.85 behind Arkansas and USC.

Lastly, Texas had two women qualify in the 800-meter competition. Valery Tobias finished in fourth place with a time of 2:03.15, followed just milliseconds behind by fellow Longhorn Brooke Jaworki at 2:03.57, Jaworki’s personal best.

These impressive finishes by the Texas women’s track and field team also earned the program a 1st place ranking in the USTFCCCA poll leading into nationals. Last year, at Hayward Field, the team was able to finish in 2nd at nationals behind the powerhouse Florida Gators’ women’s program.

The NCAA DI Track and Field Championships take place from June 7th through June 10th. The last time Austin hosted this event was in 2019.