ZEPHYR – Zephyr High School is sending three athletes to compete in four events during the Class A portion of the UIL Track and Field State Championships Friday and Saturday at Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.
Gabby Durbin will run in the girls 3200 meters at 9:20 a.m. Friday and return at 2:45 p.m. Saturday for the 1600 meters. Devin Williams will take part in the boys discus at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, while John Ford Wall will compete at 12:35 p.m. Saturday in the boys 110-meter hurdles.
All three athletes are juniors, and making their first appearance at a state track and field meet.
Durbin has competed in the UIL Cross Country State Championships before, but anticipates a much different environment.
“I’ll probably be more nervous than cross country,” Durbin said. “There’s going to be a lot more people watching.”
Durbin finished as the Region III-A runner-up in the two mile with a time of 12:29.06. Overall, Durbin’s time ranks sixth among state qualifiers. She trails Cumby Miller Grove’s Jorja Bessonett (11:49.98), Rocksprings’ Camille Harris (11:56.83), Evant’s Zulma Obiedo (12:13.5), Trent’s Baylee Pickens (12:20.68) and Borden County’s Hailey Lowrey (12:29.06), while running faster than Medina’s Emily Mills (12:30.31), Ropes’ Chloe Trull (12.36.75), and Guthrie’s Reagan Maxwell (12:38.08).
“I’m shooting for faster than 12:28, somewhere around 12:20,” Durbin said of her state goal, which could put her in the thick on the medal hunt.
In the 1600 meters, Durbin is the wild card — the top third-place performers among all four regions state-wide. Her time of 5:45.33 ranks seventh among state qualifiers, ahead of Borden County’s Hailey Lowrey (5:46.07) and Ropes’ Chloe Trull (5:50.96) and behind Cumby Miller Grove’s Jorja Bessonett (5:28.18), Rocksprings’ Camille Harris (5:29.31), Saltillo’s Sienna Collins (5:34.81), Evant’s Zulma Obiedo (5:38.8), Trent’s Baylee Pickens (5:42.29) and Wellman-Union’s Gracen Key (5:44.71).
“I was surprised to go in either one of them actually,” Durbin said, when asked about qualifying as a wild card.
As for her weekend expectations, Durbin said, “I’d be happy to place in either one of them, and next year I either want to medal again or get back to state again.”
Williams also advanced to state as a wild card in the boys discus with a 147-10 effort at the Region III-A meet. The Zephyr junior had better performances throughout the year, including a 159-6 effort earlier in the season.
“I feel like I should place on the stand somewhere, but there are some other kinds throwing well right now, like the Strawn kids,” Williams said.
His regional effort of 147-10 ranks sixth behind Strawn’s Tanner Hodgkins (160-6), Richards’ Dominick Fiorella (158-2), Rotan’s Caleb Rosenblad (152-11), Strawn’s Gavin Duncan (150-7) and Cherokee’s Kellen Everett (148-6), and ahead of Motley County’s Blayne Brady (147-9), Petersburg’s Tyal Peterson (134-11) and Jonesboro’s Alex Sarmiento (129-8).
“I’d like to throw a 160 or better, but I have to stay focused and go out there and do what I’ve been taught to do.”
Meanwhile, Wall had never run the hurdles before the season started and finished as the runner-up at the Region III-A meet.
“I didn’t expect to go anywhere in the hurdles because this is my first year and I was kind of thrown into it,” Wall said.
Wall’s time of 17.49 ranks ninth among state qualifiers, behind Iredell’s Morgan Whitfield (14.84), Penelope’s Brenner Martin (15.62), Spur’s Jacob Cole (15.74), Ropes’ Sam Addison (15.84), Hart’s Alejandro Guevara (15.86), Milford’s James McIntyre (15.88), Blackwell’s Hunter Clark (15.96) and Blackwell’s Brandon Brinkman (16.12).
Based on what Wall has achieved thus far, no goal seems unattainable heading into the final meet of the season.
“This meet will be different and I know I’ll have a lot of adrenaline going,” Wall said. “I need to have a good mentality and stay focused. I’d like to run in the high 15s.”
And if he were to earn a medal Saturday?
“It would mean the world to me,” Wall said. “I wouldn’t have thought I would have gotten a medal at state in the hurdles.”