By Drew Harris | UTAMavs.con
ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington will find itself facing its strongest competition of the season this weekend when it takes part in Texas A&M’s Charlie Thomas Invitational Friday and Saturday.
In addition to UTA, the loaded field in College Station includes Texas A&M, Arkansas, Baylor, TCU, Clemson, Missouri, Rice, Houston, UTEP and UTSA. The men’s competition is highlighted by a pair of top-10 teams nationally: Texas A&M (No. 2) and TCU (No. 7). The women’s side of the meet includes a trio of top-20 squads with No. 1 Arkansas, No. 13 Baylor and No. 20 Texas A&M.
UTA possesses formidable teams as well. Both squads are among the top 15 in the NCAA South Central Regional rankings, as the men check in 14th and the women 15th this week.
“It’s a great opportunity to not only run at a great facility, but also to compete against some of the best teams in the country,” UTA coach John Sauerhage said. “We are rounding into shape mentally and physically, so hopefully we will hit our stride here. There’s no doubt that the competition should motivate us to run faster, jump higher and throw farther.”
In addition to owning great team depth, the Mavericks also feature a number of standout individuals. In the women’s mile, UTA’s Gabriela Alfonzo (4:57.94) and Katelyn Hayward (5:04.57) maintain the top two spots in the Sun Belt Conference individual standings.
Also for the women, Taylor Davis ranks second in the league in the 400 meters (56.55) while Tamerah Gorham is second in the 800m (2:14.50). In the field, Alexus Henry has the second-best clearance in the high jump (5 feet, 7 ¾ inches) and Chineme Obikudu holds down the same position in the triple jump (41 feet, 1 inch).
On the men’s side, a pair of Mavericks currently lead the SBC in their respective events. Joel Duren sports the top mile time in the Sun Belt (4:12.04), while Craig Lautenslager is first in the 5000 meters (14:41.38).
Meanwhile, Peter Gustafsson owns the second-best time in the 60m hurdles (8.13), while Roland Sales is second in the high jump (7 feet, ¼ inch).
As the third meet of 2016, it already marks the midpoint of the indoor track and field campaign. It also comes just more than two weeks prior to the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Championships (Feb. 22-23).
The Charlie Thomas Invitational will be broadcast on the SEC Network+, part of WatchESPN. Live results of the two-day meet will be available at FlashResults.com. Friday will primarily consist of the multi-events, with the bulk of the meet beginning Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
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