80th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays Opens Wednesday

The Texas Relays at UT is one of top track & field events in the nation and the center of a big party scene

Considered one of the five best track-and-field meets in the nation, the Texas Relays are also high on the list of Things You Must Do in Austin Before You Die. It's an amazing spectacle: the cream of Texas' best athletes (as well as some special invitees from other locales) on the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. And of course, the Texas Longhorns will provide some of the biggest highlights: UT's men – led by 2008 Beijing Olympics U.S. team coach Bubba Thornton – are fresh off a third-place finish at the NCAA indoor national championships; UT's women placed eighth in that meet, which by their standards is something of an off year but a placing that most other schools can only dream of. Many of the stars of this meet will eventually compete at the Olympics – and in a few events will go up against more experienced peers who have already been to that level. Gold medalists Carl Lewis, Johnny "Lam" Jones, and Michael Johnson are just a handful of the big names who in the past have dazzled the tens of thousands of fans who show up every year to one of the finest track facilities in the nation, Mike A. Myers Stadium.

The first few events begin Wednesday, including UT All-American Trey Hardee in the decathlon; the biggest marquee events take place Saturday afternoon. Other Longhorns to watch: national champions Destinee Hooker in the women's high jump on Friday and miler Leonel Manzano in the distance medley relay on Saturday. Go to the Web site for a full schedule and ticket information. If you can't make it but want to follow the action, I will be there all day Friday and Saturday blogging live for Track & Field News.

Also, don't forget that the Texas Relays has unofficially become the focal point of one of the biggest annual social scenes in the state, with numerous related parties and events, the most notable of which is the R&B-oriented Urban Music Fest, highlighted by acts such as Angie Stone, Jean Baylor, Dwele, and Kindred the Family Soul on Friday night and the O'Jays, Cameo (word up!), and Mint Condition on Saturday.

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