After a weekend filled with ups and downs the UTSA men’s track team came out on top, capturing UTSA’s first-ever indoor title. The two-day meet came down to a single coin toss and the very last race.
The 2006 Southland Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships were held at the University of Houston’s Yoeoman Field this past weekend.
”We didn’t have one person break out and score all the points, every one worked together as a team.” UTSA Head Track and Field Coach Aaron Fox said after Saturday’s win.
”Winning Conference was an amazing team effort,” said senior Scott Briscoe.
The first day of the meet was a hard fight for the Runners. Coach Fox had projected them to be between third or fourth place after day one with about 28 points. Things didn’t look so hopeful for the Runners though when they finished on Friday near last place with only 14 total team points.
”We knew we were really behind at that point,” Coach Fox said. “Saturday morning I told the guys it was all about heart, whoever wanted it most was going to win it. And they came out fighting.”
The meet opened with the heptathlon, a grueling seven event competition, which featured defending conference champion and Indoor All-American Brandon Buteaux. Buteaux, a UTSA senior, scored a season-best and NCAA provisional-qualifying 5,357 points to defend his conference title in the heptathlon. He clocked a 8.25 in the 60m hurdles, 2:50:70 in the 1000m, and jumped 14-3 in the pole vault to contribute 11 points for the Runners. “After doing what I had to do, it was left to my team to get it done,” Buteaux said. “All I could do was cheer them on and wait to see what happened.”
Senior Bryan Wolfe struggled on day one but fought back the second day scoring 2,374 points, which shot him from sixth all the way to second place in the heptathlon. He ran an 8.39 in the 60m hurdles, cleared 14-71/4 in pole vault and ran 2:52:28 in the 1000m to contribute eight points for the Runners.
Tommy Wolfe stepped up as a freshman heptathlete, scoring 4,874 points to contribute an eighth place finish for the Runners.
The Roadrunners, who have dominated the Heptathlon for over 6 years now, gained 19 points from this event alone, yet UTSA was still close to last place, and the fate of the championship would lay with the remaining events.
Redshirt freshman, Will Vese took second in the 60m hurdles running a 6.87, while senior teammate Marques Mitchell came in fourth with a 8.15. Together they added 13 points to the team’s total.
The next race, the 60m dash, had an unexpected outcome for the Runners.
”The 60m was a very dramatic race from the beginning to the end,” said sophomore Steven Brown.
In the prelims of this race, Brown tied for the last qualifying spot with the runner from UT-Arlington, putting the fate of the race in the hands of a single coin toss. Coach Fox gave Brown the deciding call, and with his response, “tails never fails,” the runners went on to the finals.
The Runners were not projected to gain any points from this race, but with a third and fifth place finish from Brown and Sophomore Cedric Harris, respectively, UTSA gained a total of 10 points putting them in third place.
”People underestimated our talent going into conference because we didn’t put up the times in the earlier meets,” said Harris. “This was our chance to prove ourselves though, so we put everything else aside and just ran.”
Freshman Gaston Griffin ran the 400m in a 48.59 and placed second in the event. Senior T.R. Sissel placed fifth running a 49.28. The 12 points gained from this race gave UTSA a team total of 68 points, moving them up to second place behind Steven F. Austin’s 80 points.
The Runners didn’t stay in second for long. The 800m run proved to be the prevailing factor for the Runners. UTSA dominated the track, finishing with the top five times. Sophomore Mthobisi Baloyi ran a first place time of 1:53:17. Junior Larry Brooks took second with a 1:54:86 while Senior Justin Pitchford followed in at third running a 1:54:86. Junior Chris Layman and Sophomore Eric Miller finished fourth and fifth with a 1:55:16 and a 1:55:58, respectively. UTSA gained 30 points from this race alone, moving them to first place, with SFA only 7 points behind.
Junior Scott Briscoe ran a 21.95 in the 200m to clinch a fourth place spot, which extended the Runners lead to 12 points.
With two more events to go, UTSA was battling for the title with SFA and Sam Houston State close behind.
Baloyi’s seventh place finish in the 3000m run added 2 points for the Runners, but SFA gained 11 points from this race moving them within 3 points from UTSA’s lead.
It was now in the hands of the 4x400m relay. UTSA had the top time in conference going into the meet, and only needed a third place finish to seal the title. Senior David Burnett, Sissel, Griffin, and Briscoe, clocked a 3:17:34 clinching third place to secure the title for the UTSA Runners.
”Coach asked me to put us in first, and I came out with my fastest split,” said Burnett, who ran first leg for the relay. “Once I handed it off to T.R. I knew in my heart that we had done it.”
As Scott Briscoe, the last leg for the relay, rounded the track, fellow team members watched and cheered as the championship became theirs. Cedric Harris described his feelings of excitement, joy, and accomplishment. “Once Scott crossed the finish line I jumped about five feet in the air and started doing cartwheels. We all went crazy, running around the track celebrating the victory. It is the best feeling in the world.”