Mavericks gear up for Sooner Open

Amanda McMahon recorded a personal best in the 3000m at the Texas A&M Challenge.
Amanda McMahon recorded a personal best in the 3000m at the Texas A&M Challenge.

Jan. 20, 2011

ARLINGTON, Tex. - In just the first week, 27 UT Arlington athletes qualified for the Southland Conference Indoor Championships in 34 events at the Texas A&M Challenge.

Now the Mavericks will try to qualify more athletes - and find even more success - at Saturday's Oklahoma Sooner Open I.

What caught UTA coach John Sauerhage's attention most was the fact that his seniors took no time to reach midseason form.

"All of our seniors on the squad performed very well - Cordero Gray, Heinz Schwarzkopf, Zack Davis, Juan Lewis, Dwight Robinson, Chris Machisak," Sauerhage said. "Every senior we had had a good meet. It probably told you that it seems like the older guys are the most dedicated because they learned from past experiences or mistakes that if you don't train over Christmas it can pose a problem at the first meet."

Gray's performance, especially, was eye-opening. The senior sprinter turned in the best times among SLC competitors in the 60m and 200m. He ranks sixth nationally in the 60m, having finished 0.01 second away from tying the UT Arlington record, and 10th in the 200m.

"I can't imagine he won't set another personal best this season, so he should better our school record here in the next few weeks, which would be exciting for him," Sauerhage said. "That should put him in position to make it to the NCAA meet. I can't imagine that 6.69 won't get in and I can't imagine that he won't run faster. I think Cordero is poised to have a really good year in indoor track."

Amanda McMahon also turned in a strong start to her senior season. She bettered her previous 3000m personal best by 10 seconds in College Station.



It wasn't just the seniors who performed well. Some of the underclassmen, led by athletes like Shannon Reynolds, Pam Vinson, Lionel Mungwari and Renan Palma also turned in strong meets.

Still, the field at the Texas A&M Challenge was so great that Reynolds and Vinson - major contenders for sprints titles in the SLC - failed to qualify for the finals.

"On the women's side, Shannon and Pam didn't make the final because we were in such a high-quality meet," Sauerhage said. Most sprinters run better in the final. That shot us in the foot a little bit. We ran at such a good meet that they didn't get to run in the finals. One thing that will be good this week at OU is we should have our sprinters able to run twice. That will help us develop in those events."

Though several performers turned in strong meets, others faltered. Vinson and reigning outdoor SLC 800m champ Esther Abuto were disqualified in the 200m and 800m, respectively. Both are expected to compete for SLC championships this year in those events.

Freshman sprinter Clayton Vaughn was a late scratch. The talented sprinter is expected to be ready for this week. Pole vaulter Jeff Rodriguez, who vaulted 17 feet, 5 inches last year as an unattached competitor, also missed the meet. Rodriguez is not expected back Saturday.

Others, Sauerhage hopes, will improve on their marks just with a little more training.

"We're healthy and it was our first meet," Sauerhage said. "Now we have two weeks of training under our belts. We're two weeks further removed from the Christmas break. If anybody had rust on them, hopefully they have it off them by now. We'll have some better marks. I'm looking for improvement and more depth in all our events with quality marks."


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