NCAA Day Two: Texas Women Are In A Class All Their Own
Lady Longhorns: Deep And Talented
June 8th, 2023
The battle for the team title is one facet of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships that makes this 4-day competition so exciting and enjoyable. Instead of focusing on strictly individual performance, the collegiate athletes of the various universities work as one with their teammates: performing at their best, encouraging and cheering on their teammates, and even stepping up to undertake additional events in the quest to capture the coveted team trophy.
And for the fans, forecasting and tracking the ever-changing point totals over the 4-day championship is yet another fun protocol that makes this season-ending capstone so special. Often the chase for the team title trophy goes right down to the wire, with the outcome determined by the final event of these championships: the 4x400m relay.
This year there is no need to speculate as to which women’s team will prevail and win the team title trophy. After witnessing the women’s Day Two performances, it is already clear who the victor will be. It’s Texas – and likely by a wide margin.
On Thursday’s opening round for the women, the host school set the tone early with the first running event of the day: the women’s 4x100m relay. The Texas women, victors in this event the prior year, had a loaded foursome containing three athletes from the ’22 championship squad. With Longhorn junior Julien Alfred leading off, Texas was immediately in control and never let up. Crossing the line for the win in the world-leading time of 41.55, the quartet set a new collegiate and facility record.
Texas leads, NCAA, photo by How Lao Photography
But the Lady Longhorns were far from being done. One hour later, Alfred and 3 of her sprint teammates were back on the track for Heat 1 of the 100m prelim. How’d they do? All 4 advanced to the Saturday’s final, with Julien Alfred, the defending champion, clocking a 10.99, the fastest time of the day.
15 minutes later was the 400m prelim. While Arkansas’s Britton Wilson continued her historic 400m/400H quest with the fastest time of the day at 49.36, Texas junior Rhasidat Adeleke posted the 2nd fastest time of the day at 49.86. Meanwhile, across the infield, Texas sophomore Ackelia Smith (6.88m/22’7″) was wrapping up her win in the long jump – 10 points for the Longhorns. Later on, in the 200m prelim race, Alfred (22.33) is back on the track and clocks the fastest time of the day as the Lady Longhorns go 1-2-5 and advance to Saturday’s final. Are we seeing an emerging pattern here?
Women’s 400m, photo by How Lao Photography
Don’t forget the intangibles here for Texas: home-field advantage; a cheering and partisan crowd all four days; sleeping in your own bed; competing on the track and field, you know, etc., etc.
Texas’ competitors will not go down easily. But let’s be honest: Texas just has too much talent and depth. And while the other schools will try to trip Texas up, it sure looks like the Longhorns can hook ’em. / Dave Hunter /
Britton Wilson’s Historic Quest: Arkansas’s Wilson is coming ever closer to completing a track double that has never before been accomplished: a championship victory in both the open 400m and the 400m hurdles. In Day Two, she took another big step toward that goal: winning her heat in the 400m prelim in an American record and collegiate record time of 49.36 and coming back 30 minutes later to clock 54.67 in the 400m hurdles prelim to set a new facility record in the 400m hurdles.
Leo Neugebauer’s Sparkling Decathlon: It was a moment of excitement and drama when a rising round of applause greeted Texas multi-athlete Leo Neugebauer as he pressed down the final straightaway to complete his magnificent decathlon. Putting together an incredible string of terrific performances over 10 events to post a Decathlon total of 8836, Neugebauer’s point total set a new collegiate, meet, and German national record and now ranks #8 on the all-time decathlon performance list.
Leo Neugebauer just won the NCAA decathlon in new German NR! photo by How Lao Photography
w10,000m Final: In the only track final of the day, the women’s 10,000m was a cat-and-mouse event that rewarded the patient. After a cautious 8 laps in which several different athletes led, the more serious runners moved to the front. Utah’s Emily Venters took the lead and was soon followed by a pack of 14, including former champion Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat, Utah Valley’s Everlyn Kemboi, New Mexico State’s Amelia Mazza-Downie, Iowa State’s Callie Logue, and Syracuse’s Amanda Vestri. Shortly after passing 5K in 17:24.3, the lead pack whittled down to 9. With 2 kilos remaining, only 5 were left in the lead group. With 1 kilo remaining, Kemboi threw down the decisive move and sailed on for the win, covering the final lap in 68.8 and finishing in 32:39.08 – a new facility record. Venter closed well to grab 2nd in 32:47.70 while Chelangat (32:49.62) finished 3rd.
Katelyn Tuohy, NCAA, photo by How Lao photography
w1500m Prelim: It looks like Washington’s Sophie O’Sullivan (4:09.58) and NC State’s Katelyn Tuohy (4:09.83 / reigning NCAA XC Champion), and Florida’s Gabrielle Wilkinson (4:09.81) will be the cream of the crop for Saturday’s final.
Semi-finals of the Women’s 1,500 meters, NCAA Champs, photo by How Lao Photography
w100H Prelim: The final looks like a battle between Arkansas’s Ackera Nugent (12.55 in the prelim) and Kentucky’s Masai Russell (12.76 in the prelim; collegiate record holder; ranked 3rd in the world.)
w3000mSC: Notre Dame junior Olivia Markezich (fastest of the day at 9:40.81) and Cal Baptist’s petite Greta Karinauskate (9:40.84) looked the best and appear ready to perform on Saturday’s final.
W Steeplechase, NCAA 2023, photo by How Lao Photography
wJT Final: Nebraska junior Rhema Otabor (59.49m/195-2) won the women’s javelin as the Huskers went 1-4 for 15 total points.
wPV Final: In one of the more dramatic field events, Virginia Tech sophomore Julia Fixsen edged Washington senior Nastassja Campbell as both
wSP Final: The Husker weight throwers strike again as Nebraska sophomore Axelina Johansson (19.28/63-3) wins for yet another 10-point Nebraska outing.
wHT Final: Following in the footsteps of her Harvard hammer throw colleague Kenneth Ikeji who won the men’s hammer the prior day, Stephanie Ratcliffe (73.63m/241-7) was the victor in the women’s hammer throw.
Stephanie Ratcliffe, NCAA hammer throw champ, photo by How Lao photography