One fifth-place, two sixths and an eighth-place performance in Austin

AUSTIN — The high school track and field season concluded without the Brownwood Lions or Lady Lions reaching the medal stand during Saturday’s Class 4A portion of the UIL Track and Field State Championships at Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas, but it wasn’t for lack of spectacular effort.

“It was a mixed bag, but everybody’s effort was real good today,” said Don Hood, who coached in his final track and field meet for Brownwood High School after eight years. “Everybody wants to walk away with a medal, but I thought our kids competed very well. Other years we could have come here and our performances would have won going away, but this year they just didn’t. It was an incredible year.”

Freshman A.J. McCarty came closest to medaling for Brownwood as he placed fifth in the boys long jump with a new personal-best leap of 22-10.25, which took place on his fifth attempt. McCarty qualified for state on his final jump at the Region I-4A meet, moving from fourth place to second place with a 22-5.75. His previous personal-best of 22-8 occurred during the District 5-4A meet in Abilene.

Dalton Rigdon of Perryton (24-9) won the state championship followed by silver medalist D’Juan Martin of Bullard (23-8.75) and bronze medalist Trin Taylor of Atlanta (23-2.25).

“For that amount of pressure as a freshman, there’s no way to describe what it’s like and he just handled it like a pro,” Hood said of McCarty. “He competed hard and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Junior Kyra Young, making her second straight appearance in the girls 800 meters, improved two spots from last year, finishing sixth in a time of 2:19.34. Young repeated as Region I-4A champion to qualify for state, posting a 2:19.68 in the finals.

Bandera’s Sandy Clarkin captured the state championship in a time of 2:14.44 followed by silver medalist Jordan Brock of Gatesville (2:14.57) and bronze medalist Alana Armstrong of Lorena (2:14.83).

“We had a race plan and she executed it perfectly, it was just four seconds faster than we thought it would be,” Hood said of Young. “With 200 to go she took the lead and I thought she was going to run away with it, but it was just a whole lot faster. Even with 70 yards to go I thought she had a chance to medal, but her legs were wobbly and when your body’s out of gas, it won’t work anymore. She went after it and I can live with that. I’m disappointed for her, but not in her.”

Young later teamed up with freshmen Alyssa Couey and Aleyia Cotton and senior Tristan Escamilla on the 4x400 relay team, which also came in sixth in a time of 3:59.63. In their first race as a foursome, the Lady Lions broke the school record with a time of 3:57.81 at the 5-4A/6-4A area meet on April 19. They went on to capture the Region I-4A championship April 28 in a time of 4:05.86 in a driving rain storm.

Texarkana Liberty-Eylua was clocked at 3:50.01 to earn the state title followed by Dallas Carter at 3:52.06 and Wimberley at 3:55.74 to round out the medal winners.

“The mile relay was just really fast tonight,” Hood said. “We didn’t run our best time, but when you’re behind you don’t run your best. It was just a higher level of competition, but the kids fought hard. Tristan stepped up and ran her best time of the year, Kyra had nothing left in the tank and still competed as hard as she could, Aleyia ran as well as she has all year and Alyssa was within half a second of what she runs, so I can’t complain with any of that. Our effort was great.”

Senior McLane Moore, in the boys pole vault, finished tied for eighth place with a no height. Moore, the Region I-4A runner-up with a career-best vault of 14-9, was unable to clear 13-6 in three tries at the state meet. Moore’s first outing of the season was the District 5-4A meet, where he finished first with a vault of 14-0, then placed second at area.

Riley Richards of China Spring won the state championship by clearing 16-6, trailed by runner-up Hunter Wigington of Midland Greenwood (16-3) and Clayton Fritsch of Sealy (16-3) in third place.

“I didn’t do a very good job with McLane and I really feel bad for him because he doesn’t get another shot at it,” Hood said. “There’s no other way to put it. That’s on me. Looking at it when it’s over I see some things we should have done, we just didn’t do it, didn’t see it.”

Hood and his family will be soon be heading to Longview, where he is taking over the first-year track and field program at NCAA Division III LeTourneau University.

“It’s bittersweet and I’m hurting inside because I’m sure going to miss these kids,” Hood said. “I can’t say enough about how much I’ve enjoyed working with these kids, seeing what they’ve done and the support we’ve received from the parents. Everything’s been great and I couldn’t have asked for a better eight years or place to raise my kids. A lot of coaches can’t walk out of a town with only good memories, so I feel very blessed.”