Athletics News

Big 12 Women — Fifth Straight Longhorn Title

Big 12 Women — Fifth Straight Longhorn Title

Despite marathon weather delays, horizontal jumper Ackelia Smith (pictured at the ’23 NCAA) scored 16 points for Texas. (MIKE SCOTT)

WACO, TEXAS, May 9-11 — With the loss of Julien Alfred and Rhasidat Adeleke to the pro ranks, it would be easy to look at 2024 as a rebuilding year for Texas, and at the national level, that might be true.

But at the conference level, it’s just another year of dominance for the Longhorns. In its final Big 12 meet before moving to the SEC, Texas rolled up 150 points — less than the absurd 197 of 2023, but easily topping BYU’s 98 and Texas Tech’s 96½.

Edrick Floréal’s women took their fifth straight outdoor title with a balanced attack: 69 came from sprint/hurdle events (despite not fielding a 4×4), 31 came from throws, and 16 from jumper Ackelia Smith. Texas took wins in the 200, 400, 400H, TJ, SP and heptathlon.

Smith had the lone collegiate leader of the meet with a sixth-round 45-8 (13.92) in the triple jump. It was nowhere near her PR, but good enough to defend her title. She also produced leaps of 45-3½ (13.80) and 44-9½ (13.65), either of which also would have won.

“I definitely pulled that one out of the bag,” Smith said. “It was not my best day technically. But the distance was there and we’re here for a championship.”

If Smith was disappointed in her TJ, she was even more so in her long jump. She placed 3rd (21-2¾/6.47) behind the 22-5 (6.83) PR of Baylor’s Alexis Brown and 21-3¼ (6.48) of Iowa State’s Sydney Willits. Brown’s mark was a worthy winner, but Smith, the defending NCAA champ, holds a PR beyond 23 feet.

She admitted that a crazy Friday rattled her (all three days of the meet had weather interruptions).

“Oh my god, yesterday was a day and a half,” Smith said. “We started warming up at 2 p.m., we had to warm up three times, we were on and off the track, and we didn’t start jumping until after 12 at night.”

Looking ahead to the NCAA Regionals and Jamaican Trials, she said, “I’m not worried. I know what I’m capable of, and I’ll just have to prove it on the day. But not yesterday.”

Other than Smith and Brown, other big marks came from frosh Akala Garrett of Texas in the 400 hurdles, whose 54.73 broke her PR by more than a second and gave her the Olympic qualifying standard; and Gabija Galvydytė’s 2:00.42 in the 800, a PR for the Oklahoma State junior.

“We’ve had a good team all year, we just haven’t performed like it,” said Floréal,…

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