Morolake Akinosun runs with the baton during the second leg of the 4x100 meter relay at the NCAA Division I Track and Field West Preliminary round held at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas on May 30, 2015. (Thao Nguyen/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Track & Field

Texas Relays: Morolake Akinosun has a new friend to challenge her in the 100

Posted April 1st, 2016

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On the final day of the Texas Relays, Longhorns teammates Morolake Akinosun and Teahna Daniels will battle for the women’s 100-meter title.

It’ll come one week after they became buddies.

Akinosun, a senior star for Texas, joked with Daniels, a freshman, back in September that before they could be considered friends, Daniels had to pass a “six-month trial period.”

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The trial is over.

“She became my friend last week,” Akinosun said. “She’s been here six months.”

The pals, who finished first and second in Friday’s qualifying, will be at the center stage of a marquee final on Saturday at Myers Stadium.

Akinosun, a 22-time All-American, is trying to become the first female in 89 years of the Relays to claim three straight 100-meter titles; she won her preliminary heat in 11.25 seconds. Daniels, the NCAA indoor champion at 60 meters, was second in 11.53. A third Longhorn, Caitland Smith, qualified sixth overall in 11.72.

Due to two lightning delays — one that held the start of the meet by 45 minutes and another that lasted two hours — several competitors chose to withdraw from the 100-meter field rather than restart their pre-race routine. Specifically, LSU and Texas A&M pulled athletes.

Texas’ runners, however, chose to stay in the field, and Daniels, who said she was thrown off by the change in schedule, credited Akinosun with “keeping my spirits up” during the delays.

“She said, ‘You gotta get through it, T. Just make it to the finals,’” Daniels said.

Akinosun and Daniels will likely be exhausted by the end of Saturday. In addition to the 100 final, they’ll team with Courtney Okolo and and Shania Collins in the 400 relay, and with Okolo and Christann Gordon in the 800 relay. Akinosun also will run a leg on the 1600 relay.

Saturday’s forecast calls for clear, sunny skies. So no more delays.

Akinosun, the most outstanding performer at last year’s Relays, said she first realized Daniels’ talents that weekend when Daniels, of First Academy in Orlando, Fla., ran 11.27 to win the 100 in the high school division and defended the title she’d claimed the year before.

By then, Daniels had already signed with Texas, which was her sixth and final visit after she checked out Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Alabama.

“It’s been great to see Teahna blossom this season and really run,” Akinosun said. “A lot of freshmen go through a freshman slump, and clearly she has not.”

Joining the three Longhorns in Saturday’s 100 final are Purdue’s Savannah Carson (11.61), Clemson’s Taylor Williams (11.63), Arkansas’ Kiara Parker (11.64), Oklahoma’s Leye Buchana (11.77), Wayland Baptist’s Rochene Smith (11.83) and Rogers State’s Audriana Morgan (11.83).

UT coach Mario Sategna said he wants Daniels to resist feeling too much pressure as a rookie.

“She just has to stay within herself, whether that’s in the relay or when she lines up against Morolake,” Sategna said. “Yeah, she wants to win, but at the same time she doesn’t have to have the weight of the world on her shoulders and hers alone. By next year and years to come, she’ll take ownership and she’ll lead that group.”

Other UT entrees advancing to finals were the 400 men’s relay (first), Mobolaji Adeokun (second, 100 hurdles), John Burt (fifth, 110 hurdles), Senoj-Jay Givans (first, 100), Charles Anemnu (fifth, 100) and Aldridch Bailey Jr. (sixth, 100).

N’Dian Warren-Jacques won the women’s shot put with a throw of 49 feet, 6 1/4 inches, and freshman Asa Garcia won the triple jump in 43 feet, 7 1/4 inches.

Spencer McCloud was second in the high jump (7-1/4). Georgia Wahl took fifth in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump in section B.

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