In a hotel room in Norman, Oklahoma, All-American Richard Garrett Jr. set out to fill up his room’s set of trash cans with ice.
He had been sitting on a bus for eight hours and needed an ice bath to relax his body in preparation for the Southland Conference Indoor Championship.
Although his tall, imposing figure seemed composed behind his white headphones, he and the rest of UTSA’s men’s track and field team knew they could not leave the Indoor Championship without a sixth consecutive ring.
“I woke up that morning pumped, but I was nerve-wrecked,”Garrett Jr. said.
That day, he was hounded by recurring images of a bad meet weeks before, something he vowed never to let happen again. Even his text-message signature served as a reminder to himself – and his teammates – that he would not disappoint again – Never Again.
On this day though, early wins by sophomores Keith Bedford in the high jump and Tyler Williamson in the long jump set the pace, and the Roadrunners never looked back.
“I told the guys that we wanted to start off strong,”team captain and two-time winner of the triple jump event, Devon Bond said.
Before the end of the meet, three more birds would win events for a conference record tying, six individual titles, with sophomore Taylor Reed winning the pole vault event, added to Albert Cardena’s victory in the mile and Garrett Jr.’s gold in the shot put.
Garrett Jr., a sophomore criminal justice major, also set a personal record with his mark of 61 feet, eight inches (18.81 m).
“Typically, the rule that I have is that a third of your team will do below average, a third above average and a third average,” Director of track and field and six time indoor Coach of the Year Aaron Fox said. “This time, there was no below average.”
Overall, the Roadrunners finished the two-day event with a school record of 153 points, 42 points ahead of second place UT Arlington. The point total is also the second best in Southland Conference history, trailing Lamar’s 1983 mark of 164.
“Throughout the meet we had no clue we were up by that much,”Garrett said. “Really, we were just concentrating on our events and supporting each other.”
“We do anything we can, motivational wise, to help our teammates win,” added Bond, the 2010 Conference Newcomer of the Year. “We yell, we shout…we don’t care who’s in that building.”
UTSA’s well balanced track team and part-time cheer squad also included 13 other athletes earning points.
When Garrett Jr. was asked about the team’s success, he stated, “Coach [Fox] tells us not to do it for ourselves; he says to do it for your teammate because you will quit on yourself, but you won’t quit on your team.”
Now, this pack of tight-flying – or running – birds have set eyes on winning their first back-to-back outdoor championship in May.
“We’ve done six in a row, but outdoors we are yet to win a back-to-back, so that’s kind of the goal this year,”Fox said.
For now though, the Roadrunners will continue training like a team chasing its first coyote, until the hotel room ice hunts and ensuing victory laps signal otherwise.