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Track & field: Denton’s Irabor, Roberson headed to UNT
Bronco speedsters opt to stay close to home
07:42 AM CDT on Thursday, July 8, 2004
By Brett Vito / Staff Writer
One of Brandon Irabor’s best memories from his high school track career at Denton is winning medals and meet titles across the state with friend and teammate Ryan Roberson.
The experience is one both hope to build on in the next few years, this time on the college level at North Texas. Both recently signed national letters-of-intent to compete for their hometown university.
"UNT will be a great place to run," Irabor said. "Ryan and I used to talk about going to college together. That’s a big part of my decision, having one of my best friends with me."
The Denton duo is part of a class of 10 recruits for the men’s team that lost several of its top performers after last season. Two UNT recruits are ranked among the 40 high school seniors nationally in their event.
Jose Zubia of Midland Lee finished fourth in the Class 5A 800 meters in a time of 1:52.14 at the state track meet last season and is ranked 23rd nationally in the event.
David Schwein of Corpus Christi Carroll has qualified for the state meet twice in the Class 5A 400 meter dash and is ranked 35th nationally in the event. He finished fifth in the 2003 National Jr. Olympics and has a top time of 47.74.
"This is the biggest class of recruits we have signed on the guys’ side since I have been here," said UNT coach Rick Watkins, who is entering his 12th year with the team. "The future of our program is in these guys’ hands."
UNT lost 10 seniors from its 2004 men’s team, including several key members of the squad that finished fourth in the Sun Belt Conference meet.
Irabor and Roberson are expected to help fill the void
"Denton has had some good relay teams the last few years," Watkins said. "They have a lot of experience."
Irabor and Roberson are expected to compete in sprint events at UNT and could have a chance to run on one of the Mean Green’s relay teams early in their careers.
"It would be exciting to run on a relay team as a freshman," Roberson said. "UNT has a very good program and has sent people to the national meet. I hope I am the next one to go."
Roberson posted a time of 21.56 in the 200 as a senior at Denton. Irabor was the district champion in the 100 and finished fourth in the event at the regional meet in a time of 10.88.
"This is a great opportunity for Ryan to attend a top-rated university and participate in a strong Division I-A athletic program, said Denton coach Gary Roberson, Ryan’s father. "I have the utmost confidence in the coaching staff at UNT and I expect Ryan to reach new heights in his academic and athletic endeavors."
The UNT women lost only a few key athletes, which limited the size of their recruiting class.
Michelle Hurn headlines the class. The former Plano East standout is transferring to UNT from the University of Arkansas. Hurn was an All-Southeastern Conference performer in cross country as a freshman at Arkansas.
Hurn will join a team that finished second in the Sun Belt outdoor meet in 2004 after winning the league’s outdoor title in 2003.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870.
UNT track signees
Brandon Irabor, sprints, Denton
Ryan Roberson, sprints, Denton
Sean Covington, middle distance, Midland Lee
Sean Harriman, middle distance, McKinney North
Keith Hill, 400, Frisco
Derek Ray, 1600, Brandon, Miss.
David Schwein, 400, Corpus Christi Carroll
Nathan Smith, sprints, Broken Arrow, Okla.
Brandon Woodard, 400, Arlington Sam Houston
Jose Zubia, 800, Midland Lee
Chi Chi Echebelem, sprints, Duncanville
Keisha Hornsby, sprints, Manor
Raquel Hudson, 400, Arlington Sam Houston
Michelle Hurn, 3200, Plano East (Arkansas)
Chrystal Mitchell, sprints, South Grand Prairie
Brandi Sneed, hurdles, Richardson