University of New Mexico sprinter Jevon O’Bryant felt the love and support from teammates, who cheered him on during his first 800-meter run experience at the New Mexico Spring Invitational on Thursday.
With athletes from New Mexico State, New Mexico Highlands and NCAA Division II schools Fort Lewis and Adams State also competing, the meet was more of a low-key competition – especially compared to next week when the Lobos will compete in the Mt. San Antonio College Relays (Walnut, California) and the Bryan Clay Invitational (Azusa, California).
But O’Bryant still wanted to do the best he could. He believed it would help him in his main event; the 400 meters. He’s ranked No. 7 in the nation in that event at 45.98 seconds.
O’Bryant, from Houston and a junior transfer from Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, had a strong start and led up until the final 200 meters when teammate Matthew Larkin passed him. Larkin won in 1 minute, 52.55 seconds. O’Bryant was third in 1:54.74, right behind teammate Iolo Hughes at 1:54.62.
“It was my first time, so I didn’t think the ending was going to be so bad, but it hurt,” O’Bryant said. “I’m going to stay in my lane with the 400.”
He’s planning to get back to business when he competes in the 400 at the Mt. SAC Relays.
“It’s one of the biggest meets, so gotta go out and put on a show,” O’Bryant said.
O’Bryant, who wore a bright, yellow headband, is not one to shy away from the spotlight. He set a new school record in the 600 meters (1:17.5) during the indoor track season.
O’Bryant credits his teammates, especially his fellow sprinters, for doing so well while he stays in his lane in the 400. Jovahn Williamson, a graduate transfer from Harvard, is certainly one who motivates O’Bryant and vice versa. Williamson is No. 8 in the nation in the 400 at 46.02 seconds. Williamson and O’Bryant achieved their top 400 times at the ASU Invitational in Tempe, Arizona, on March 25.
“We’ve all pushed each other since day one,” O’Bryant said. “We try to get each other better. Every day at practice we go at it, That’s really how we’ve gotten better.”
UNM coach Joe Franklin said the sprinters do all that is asked of them and follow the lead of sprints coach Bob Thurnhoffer.
“They just want to do their best,” Franklin said. “Now they’re competing with not only Power 5 runners, but the top runners in the country.”
O’Bryant was held out of the 400 at Thursday’s meet. Next week will be of greater importance.
UNM sprinter Tianna Holmes, who holds the school record in the 200 and 400 (indoor and outdoor), did not compete in the 100 Thursdasy because of a sore back.
UNM winners at Thursday’s meet also included:
Darryl Thomas in the long jump (23 feet, 1¾ inches), Adam Giron in the high jump (6-4), Rivaldo Leacock in the 200 (21.21 seconds), Victoria Villanueva in the pole vault (12-7½) and Sarah Eckel in the 800 (2:11.21).