A smaller number of Class 4A and 5A schools entered into the 2013 Bluebonnet Relays has forced a change in divisions. When the two-day meet commences at noon Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium, Class 3A schools will compete against the 4As and 5As, while the Class 1A and 2As schools will make up another division and JVs from all classifications will comprise the third.

“We used to have it where the 4As and 5As competed and the 3As were in a division all to ourselves,” said Brownwood High track and field head coach Don Hood. “We couldn’t get any big schools to come this year, so that division will have five 4A and 5A schools and five 3A schools.”

Hood added the Class 1A and 2A division could see a similar turnout.

“The 1A and 2A division is going to be a hodge podge collection of schools,” Hood said. “We’re going to have around 10 or 12 schools, but not all the schools are bringing their full teams because of other sports, UIL competitions or spring break.”

Earlier this week, more than 500 athletes had registered to compete in the Bluebonnet Relays, and Hood felt that number could double by the time Friday arrives.

“A lot of the bigger schools haven’t entered their athletes yet, so there should be around 800 to 1,000 athletes, maybe more than that,” Hood said.

Action begins at noon Friday with the boys 3200 meters and field events, while the girls running preliminaries are slated to begin at 1 p.m. Girls field events and boys running prelims will start at 4:30 p.m., followed by a throwers relay and the girls 3200 meters to conclude opening day.

On Saturday, the running finals begin at noon and will take place in the following order: 4x100 relay, 800 meters, 100-meter hurdles, 110-meter hurdles, 100 meters, 4x200 relay, 400 meters, 300-meter hurdles, 200 meters, 1600 meters and 4x400 relay. 

Heading into the meet, the Lady Lions placed first at Liberty Hill and fourth at Fredericksburg in their first two official outings.

The Lady Lions are led by sophomore Lexie Lewis, who qualified for state in both the 100 meters and 200 meters — bringing home a bronze medal in the 200 — as a freshman. Other competitors to keep an eye on include Caroline Kirbo in the pole vault; Victoria Henry in the shot put and discus; Brooke Montemayor in the high jump; distance runners Julianne Hood, Victoria Hood, Tori Burkett, Katy Jacobs and Jessica Romero; hurdlers Sharday Melvin and Kim Ervin; and all three relay teams.

The Lions, meanwhile, have placed third at Liberty Hill and fifth at Fredericksburg.

Hurdler Demarcus Whinery appears to be poised for a breakout season, while other Lions to watch include distance runners Dylan Person, Tristan Stieber and Adam Tipton; sprinters Jared Crouch, Kaimon Ontiveros, Cooper Howey, Bryan Johnson and Bruce Sterling; Seth Owen in the high jump, long jump and triple jump; Cullen Ruth and Mackey Gibson in the discus and shot put; and the three relay teams.

“I think we’re a lot better at this point than we were this time last year, depth is our only issue,” Hood said. “But the atmosphere and the energy in the workouts, there’s more of a sense of purpose and I think that’s going to carry over into some good performances from this point on.” 

Hood added he was anxious to see how the Lions and Lady Lions would perform this weekend against competition from larger schools.

“I want to see how we compete when we line up against kids who are supposed to be better than us,” Hood said. “I think we can make the finals in a lot of events. I want to see some of our better kids have the chance to run twice this weekend.”