Texas sweeps Big 12 indoor track & field titles for fourth time
The Texas Longhorns enjoyed a banner weekend at the Big 12 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Lubbock, sweeping the men’s and women’s team titles for the fourth time in school history and the first time since 2015. The women’s title is their fourth consecutive and 12th overall team trophy, and the men’s title is their first since 2017 and ninth overall.
The women continued their dominance of the conference, scoring a final total of 154.5 points, well ahead of Oklahoma State (103) and Kansas State (100.5).
They achieved the victory even without the aid of Julien Alfred, the reigning Big 12 indoor champion in the 60-meter and 200-meter races. The junior’s season-best of 7.15 seconds is the second-fastest time in the nation this year.
Head coach Edrick Floreal said that Alfred “cramped up pretty bad” at their last meet and he was taking no chances with his star ahead of the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks, where he hopes the women can notch a top-four podium finish.
“Her chances of winning NCAAs are pretty high and the rest of the team knew they had to step up a little bit more,” Floreal said.
With the St. Lucia native skipping the trip to Lubbock, that left room for another Longhorn to rise to the occasion.
Junior Kynnedy Flannel kept the High Point Award in the Longhorns’ territory, splitting the recognition with Ruth Usoro of Texas Tech. Flannel repeated Alfred’s impressive double sprint win, earning individual titles in the 60 in 7.25 and the 200 in 22.55. Her 200 time set a new Big 12 Championship meet record and, adjusted for altitude to 22.62, stands as the second-fastest time in the NCAA this year.
The performance is what Floreal expected of Flannel, who he says was “a shell of herself” last year after losing nine months of training with a broken foot.
The Alvin product is the third Big 12 woman to win the indoor sprint double since 2006, behind Texas’ Marshevet Hooker and Alfred.
There’s another young face who could join that short list in the future: true freshman Kevona Davis, who earned runner-up honors to Flannel in both the 60 and the 200, clocking 7.25 and 22.87, respectively.
Another valuable one-two punch for the Longhorns came in the 400-meter race, as Stacey Ann Williams and Kennedy Simon, the defending champion, took the top two spots. Williams’ winning time of 51.60 is a lifetime best and ranks No. 3 in the NCAA this season.
One of the Longhorns’ brightest performances came in the very first event of the final day of competition, courtesy of Chanel Brissett. The graduate transfer, who won the 2019 national title in the 60-meter hurdles for USC, won the event in a new school record of 7.89 — the sixth-fastest time in the world this year and tied for the eighth-fastest time in NCAA history.
“She’s just now starting to begin to understand the training philosophy here [in Austin],” said Floreal. “Just the tip of the iceberg.”
The new training environment at Texas goes beyond location, as Brissett spends every day working out with one of Floreal’s top athletes in his stable of professional sprinters: Keni Harrison, the world record holder in the 100-meter hurdles.
On the men’s side, the team title chase came down to the final event, the 1600-meter relay. The Longhorns led Texas Tech by just two points heading into the relay, but the quartet of Jon Maas, Micaiah Harris, Charles Brockman III and Willington Wright secured the win in 3 minutes, 7.10 seconds to clinch the team title.
The win was Harris’ second of the day, as the senior defended his title in the 200-meter sprint with a new school record time of 20.38.
After their victory, Wright revealed that he had battled COVID-19 earlier this season.
Floreal said the biggest challenge of coaching during the pandemic, which is nearing the one-year mark, doesn’t have anything to do with training.
“The difficult part is the kids not being able to be regular 18- to 22-year-olds,” he said. “I don’t think anyone understands the amount of damage (done in) not being able to be a normal student-athlete. Spending most of the day sitting on your butt, your social life is almost slim-to-none. That part worries me a whole lot more.”