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LINCOLN, Neb. – With a handful of Longhorns making their season debuts in their primary indoor events, the Texas Longhorns did not disappoint on the first day of the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational.
For the men Aldrich Bailey Jr. took on the 400 meters for the first time this season and fellow senior Byron Robinson also ran, making his overall season debut.
Bailey got the win in 46.38 seconds to rank No. 5 in the NCAA so far this year. Robinson, the Olympian in the 400 meter hurdles, clocked 46.68 to rank No. 10 in the nation.
Head Coach Mario Sategna said both Bailey and Robinson ran well and looked in good form compared to 2016 NCAA champion Zack Bilderback.
"With Byron and AJ in that final heat, they both ran great season openers," Sategna said. "AJ looks strong and I think if you look back at what Zack Bilderback had run at this point in the season last year, I think both AJ and Byron surpassed that time tonight."
Olympian Chrisann Gordon ran her first 400 meters of the indoor season on Friday night and she came away with a win, clocking 53.31 seconds. It marks the No. 12 time in the NCAA this season. Sophomore Zola Golden followed right behind her in 53.77 seconds, just off her personal best from two weeks ago.
The fast times did not stop there.
Sophomore Teahna Daniels ran 7.39 seconds in the prelims of the 60 meters to move onto Saturday's final. Former Longhorn Morolake Akinosun broke the Husker Invitational record during the women's prelims with a time of 7.21 seconds.
Senior Senoj-Jay Givans clocked an impressive 6.65 seconds in the men's prelims for the top time of the night. He also ranks 12th in the NCAA this season.
In the 60 meter hurdles, Texas saw another freshman make her debut for the Longhorns as Alexis Duncan worked her way out of the prelims and into the final. She clocked in at 8.30 seconds in her first collegiate race.
Tying with Duncan at 8.30 in the prelims was junior Ariel Jones. Spencer Dunkerley-Offor qualified for the final in the men's hurdles as well. After their races, Sategna said he was pleased with how each ran.
"Spencer continues to show where he is at this stage of his career," Sategna said. "It was great to see Alexis Duncan make her debut and advance. Ariel Jones, I think she gets more and more savvy as she continues to move along in terms of competing."
Sophomore Steffin McCarter got another victory for Texas in the men's long jump. He posted a mark of 7.53 meters (24-8.50). In the women's long jump freshman Teesa Mpagi qualified for the final out of the lower seeded flight to finish in eighth, and redshirt freshman Georgia Wahl tallied a pair of personal records during her three jumps.
The day began with the trio of UT's multi-event specialists competing in the men's heptathlon. All-American Wolf Mahler returned to competition after redshirting the outdoor season last year with a strong showing through the first four events.
Mahler tallied 5,955 points after four of the seven events to stand in eighth place. That score is less than 60 points off his best Day 1 total in his career.
Freshman George Patrick also showed why he was the No. 1 recruit in the nation for the multi-events as he is just one point behind Mahler.
Day 2 of the heptathlon starts with the 60 meter hurdles, followed by the pole vault and 1,000 meters. All three are strong events for Mahler as Sategna looks for him to close strong along with Patrick to give Texas a presence on the national rankings.
Steele Wasik pulled out of the heptathlon competition following the second event. The UCLA transfer was a second-team All-American for the Bruins.
Sategna said he was pleased with the first day at the Husker Invitational and looks forward to closing well with more fast times and big marks on Saturday.
"All in all, we wanted to see some big improvements and people start to step up and take shape and we were able to do that," Sategna said. "I think as we begin to head into this final stretch of the indoor season there is still a lot of work to be done, but the main thing is health and we can keep things rolling."
Action resumes from the Devaney Center at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Fans can follow live results from the Husker Invitational online at DeltaTiming.com.
Head Coach Mario Sategna
On the multi-event athletes: Things got off to a great start with Wolf Mahler and George Patrick starting the beginning of their first indoor heptathlon. This is the first meet of the year for Wolf and shows where he is at with consistency across the board and looking forward to that group being able to solidify some points at the conference meet along with Steele Wasik.
On Steffin McCarter: Steffin got the victory and beat some really talented people from across the country that came here for this meet.
On the women's 400m: In the 400 Chrisann looked real strong and Zola continues to fight. She's really starting to come into her own.