With the men's track and field team enjoying the home cooking at the Victor Lopez Classic the previous weekend, Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) and his squad did not necessarily expect the same caliber of results at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays this past weekend, but they certainly did not foresee a tumultuous first day of competition like they experienced last Thursday in Austin.
Leading off for the Owls on Thursday was the 4-x-800 meter relay squad of seniors Dan Sloat and Jordan Hmaidan, junior Mike Troop and freshman Will Firth, who finished a disappointing 14th out of 16 squads with a time of 7:40.93. The 400-meter hurdle preliminaries went no better for Rice, with senior Lee Johnson finishing in 39th place out 45 runners. Sophomore Travis Roberts ran in the B race of the 1,500-meter relay, taking ninth place ahead of two runners. Senior James Llamas was the highlight of the day in the 5,000-meter run, finishing in 11th place with a personal-best time of 15:22. Although the meet had vaunted track teams from schools like The University of Texas, the University of Notre Dame and Ohio State University, Warren did not come away from Thursday's competition happy.
"We have had much better days on the track than today," Warren said. "Only a few days ago, we looked awesome. Today, Dan Sloat ran a really good leg on the 4-x-800-meter relay of 1:51, everyone else was a little flat."
The last two days of the competition were somewhat better for the Owls, with senior Alex Zinchenko coming into his peak form and grabbing fourth place in the shot put, albeit in the B field. Two other relay squads ran, with the 4-x-1,500-meter team having a satisfactory performance, taking fifth place out of eight teams. Firth, Roberts, sophomore John Cavallo and junior Sammy Abuhamra ran the race in 16:02, beating Baylor University, the University of Houston and Louisiana State University in the process. The final race for Rice was the 4-x-400 meter team relay, which freshman Kyle Denny, Hmaidan, Sloat and Johnson finished last by four-hundredths of a second. Warren said he felt the last day of the meet was an improvement for Rice over the first day. He was pleased to see some progress.
"We had a much better day today, with respectable performances in both the shot put and the 4-x-1,500 relay," Warren said. "The marks were not what I had hoped for, but in both competitions, the guys did what they needed to for them to be in the hunt for decent places."
Redshirt junior Clayton Chaney ran up against some top-flight competition in his first decathlon, placing third overall in the long jump and sixth in the 110-meter hurdles and javelin throw. However, the other seven events saw Chaney finish outside the top 10 competitors, and he finished 15th overall with 6,493 points, behind three athletes from Texas alone.
The Owls will have a chance to right the ship tomorrow in San Marcos, Texas at the Texas State Invitational/Combined Events.