AUSTIN, Texas – It was a record day for the Texas Track & Field team on Day 2 of the 91st Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays Built By The Home Depot. Elena Bruckner and Meghan Lloyd each etched their names atop the record book as the best Longhorns ever in their respective events.
Thursday was a busy one for Bruckner that started with a new school record in the hammer throw at 11 a.m. followed by an exam in psychology of advertising, then back to the track to finish competing.
With Bruckner competing in the first flight of the hammer throw, she got her three guaranteed throws in and broke the school record on her first attempt at 56.21 meters (184-5). She then, ran across campus and took her exam while still wearing her uniform and got back to the track in time to compete in the final two rounds of throws in the hammer.
“As soon as the schedule came out, if I get to do hammer it’s literally going to be hammer, run to the test, assuming I’m not going to make finals,” Bruckner said of the meet schedule. “I actually threw really well, and was like, ‘oh no. I might actually make finals.’ I ran to take my test. Thankfully I had studied so I was able to take my test pretty quickly.”
Bruckner later got word she made a 96 on her exam.
The evening running session went well for the Texas distance runners, especially in the 3,000 meter steeplechase.
Junior Meghan Lloyd shattered her own school record by seven seconds to finish in second place. Her time of 10:13.35 also was 18 seconds faster than her time at Texas Relays last year, showing great improvement in her racing. While she was happy with the school record, Lloyd was disappointed to finish in second place for a second straight year.
“I’m extremely happy, my goal was just to do faster than I did last Texas Relays opener, which was 10:31, so I think that was 18 seconds faster than last year. So I’m just extremely happy,” Lloyd said. “I felt calm and comfortable the whole time until I had to respond in that moment so I just need to work on that and just get better throughout the season but I’m happy.”
After Lloyd broke the school record, John Rice claimed victory for the Longhorns in the men’s steeplechase. He clocked in at 8:46.52 to win by 10 seconds. His time also cut nearly 11 seconds off his personal best and moved him into the all-time top 10 list at Texas, ranking as the No. 9 performer in school history.
“Every time you come to Texas Relays you don’t expect to take a W easily. I came here expecting a fight,” Rice said. “We had a few conversations before the race about just going out there, and just doing what we do at practice, and going hard until the finish. It’s called the ABC’s for a reason, ‘always be closing’ so it was nice to go out there and execute.”
Their coaches were happy with all their performances as well.
Associate Head Coach Ty Sevin said Bruckner has made big strides in the hammer throw, which is not her primary event. The shot put and discus are her stronger events, traditionally, but she is learning to balance her talent with technique to improve in the hammer.
“In track you would say she has a pretty big motor. The problem with really technical events is when you are super athletic you try to over-power it and you always rely on that,” Sevin said. “When you are at a lower level, that beats everybody. When you are at this level, it takes a combination of both things. That’s what I liked today, they just merged together. She did some really good things technically and the physical ability made it go pretty far. We still have miles to go about what our capacity is for the event.”
On the distance side, Assistant Coach Brad Herbster was excited to see all his steeplechasers run so well.
In addition to Lloyd breaking the school record, sophomore Abby Guidry made her debut in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and finished in third place. Her time of 10:35.34 ranks third in school history already and it was the fastest time Herbster said he has had a female run in her steeplechase debut in his career. Those performances have him excited for the potential the group could have later in the season.
“She fell asleep with about 600 meters to go, but she ran 18 seconds faster than she did last year at this meet,” Herbster said. “Battling for the win is all you can ask and that’s a time that will get her to the regional, and it was also a school record. I think she can make nationals with the way she’s running right now.”
Also making his debut in the steeplechase was freshman Jake Johnson. He finished in sixth place and clocked 9:17.44.
Texas also had strong showings from Virginia Preiss and Georgia Wahl in the heptathlon. The each put together solid Day 1 performances and took that momentum into Thursday to finish out with point totals over 5,000 and crack the top 10 list.
Preiss posted personal bests in all seven of the event disciplines to amass a score of 5,092 points. That was good enough to finish in 12th place. Wahl had PRs in five of the events and scored 5,019 points to finish in 17th in a strong field that included multiple All-Americans. With their scores Preiss and Wahl now rank sixth and seventh in school history, respectively.
A strong opener to her season also came from Gabby Crank in the 800 meters. She clocked 2:07.93 to finish in fourth place. She was only .42 off her PR. Freshman Megan Rourke also performed well in her first outdoor collegiate race finishing in ninth place and running 2:09.49.
The evening closed with a runner-up finish from freshman Connor O’Neill in the 5,000m. He crossed the line in 14:21.53 seconds. That’s tops in the Big 12 so far this season. Senior Jacob Pickle finished 10th in his final Texas Relays and ran a new personal best time 14:34.75. Fellow senior Connor Hendrickson finished 22nd in his final Texas Relays.
In the only preliminary event of the day, the women’s team saw the pair of Mariam Abdul-Rashid and Ariel Jones advance through to the final in the 400 meter hurdles. Abdul-Rashid clocked a new personal best time of 57.40 seconds to rank No. 5 in the prelims. Jones ran 58.13 seconds as the back-to-back-to-back Big 12 champion was seventh in prelims.
Day 3 of the 91st Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays Built By The Home Depot begins at 9 a.m. with field events. The first running event of the day starts at 9:35 a.m. with prelims for the collegiate 4x100m relays. It’s a full day of action on Friday with events going all the way until 9:55 p.m. with high school and collegiate events.