Brownwood High School student-athletes will have six opportunities Saturday to capture a medal during the Class 4A portion of the UIL Track and Field State Championships at Myers Stadium on the campus on the University of Texas at Austin.
Lady Lion senior Kyra Young is making her third state appearance, and enters the 4A girls 800 meters with the best regional qualifying time (2:16.57), as well as the best time in the state all year.
“That makes me feel really confident in myself and I'm hoping that will be the outcome,” Young said. “I feel pretty confident other than there are four of us going for first, second and third. We're all right there within a half-second of each other. Three of us are seniors and one's a freshman, but I'm really hoping I can pull through.”
Young finished sixth as a junior (2:19.34) and eighth as a sophomore (2:33.65), running immediately after a six-hour weather delay.
Competing against Young in the 800 will be Llano's Anna Casey (2:17.18), Bandera's Sandy Clarkin (2:17.1), Bandera's Alia Henderson (2:17.25), Wimberley's Ashlyn Royal (2:18.35), Celina's Hannah Thompson (2:19.79), La Grange's Montserrat Rios (2:20.59), Texarkana Pleasant Grove's Kaytlyn Sweatman (2:20.84) and Abilene Wylie's Leandra Benton (2:20.17).
“What I've been telling most people all year long is whatever happens will happen,” Young said. “If I don't medal it wasn't meant to happen.”
Young will also compete in the 1600 meters, where she enters with the ninth-best time (5:30.63). Also competing in the event will be Llano's Anna Casey (5:15.97), Bandera's Sandy Clarkin (5:17.74), Boerne's Emma Stauber (5:17.78), Texarkana Pleasant Grove's Kaytlyn Sweatman (5:18.52), Bandera's Alia Henderson (5:18.79), Llano's Megan Riley (5:21.15)
Celina's Hannah Thompson (5:24.69) and Midlothian Heritage's Renee Elliott (5:26.99).
“The mile, I just ran that event because the colleges wanted times and then I made it this far,” Young said. “I don't have a strategy for the mile at state, whatever happens will happen.”
Young will run the 800 meters at 12:20 p.m. Saturday with a goal time of 2:14, and the 1600 meters at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, with a goal time of under 5:20.
“I would feel honored to win a medal, but two would be crazy,” Young said.
Also competing in multiple events — hopefully — will be Lion sophomore A.J. McCarty. McCarty is part of the Lions' 4x100 relay team and also advanced in the triple jump as well. Both events are slated to take place at noon Saturday.
“I'm going to try and go over there and ask the triple jump people if I can check in and get moved to the back of the line and run the 4x1 and then come back and jump,” McCarty said.
If McCarty's request were to be denied and he was forced to choose, he said, “I have a better chance at the triple jump, but the 4x1 is more of a team sport and I'd probably go with the 4x1 because it's a team sport and they need me.”
McCarty, who finished fifth in the long jump at state as a freshman, advanced to Austin in the triple jump with a leap of 45-3.75 at the Region I-4A meet, which ranks fifth among state qualifiers.
“Last year I was nervous being a freshman and the youngest person there,” McCarty said. “I'm going to be the youngest person again but I feel more confident because I've been there on that stage before. I feel great. I went to the chiropractor (Wednesday) and got loosened up, got acupuncture, so my knees and ankles are feeling good. Now I just have to jump and do what I know how to do. I feel confident that I'll come out hopefully with a medal.”
Also competing in the triple jump will be Sealy's Tyrek McNeese (47-9.5), Texarkana Liberty-Eylau's Deacon Phillips (47-8), Carthage's Keaontay Ingram (46-6), Little Cypress Mauriceville's Christian Weatherly (45-6), Sealy's Ivan Bolden (45-3), Shepherd's Terrance Robinson (45-2.75), Bullard's Will McCowin (45-1) and Bushland's Cody West (45-0.5).
As for the 4x100 relay, the Lions set a goal at the end of football season to reach the state track meet, and did so with a second-place time of 42.67 at the Region I-4A meet. Also competing at state will be Dallas Carter (41.39), Kilgore (41.64), Carthage (41.83), Stafford (41.84), Sealy (42.39), Wichita Falls Hirschi (42.49), Athens (42.5) and Taylor (42.55).
“We've been working for this all year and to go to state like we planned back in football, we accomplished our goal,” McCarty said. “We're the ninth seed right now, but the times in front of us up to fifth place are just a snap apart. It should be a close race and be fun.
“We've talked about this since the end of football season,” said Braden Jetton. “It's a pretty good feeling to be able to know we're going to the state track meet. There was an element of surprise knowing that we weren't the best team, but we knew we could still make it. In our minds we knew that we could still do it and it was a pretty cool thing to do.
“It's going to be a fun environment with all classifications being there. It's going to be cool to watch and very fun to compete against those schools that are competing at such a high level,” Jetton added.
Patrick Nash will run the first leg, followed by Jetton, Tommy Bowden — who stepped in at regionals for an injured Gavin Jefferson — and McCarty on the anchor leg. Jefferson and Royshad Henderson are alternates.
“It's going to be a fun experience and another chance to compete so it feels good,” Bowden said.
Asked about the chance of possibly coming home with a medal, Bowden said, “That would be awesome to have a state medal, not many people ever get those. That would be really cool.”
Lady Lion sophomore Trinity Jackson will challenge the state's elite in the 4A girls pole vault at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Jackson ranks in a sixth-place tie among state qualifiers after a personal record 10-9 effort to claim to the Region I-4A championship. The remainder of the field includes Taylor's Anna Cathryn Griffith (12-6), Van's Kendall Brown (11-0), Gatesville's Jordan Morse (11-0), Tatum's Kristen Sneed (11-0), Wimberley's Kaitlyn Kvinta (11-0), Wills Point's Kaylee King (10-9), LaVernia's Ashton Moon (10-6), and Dalhart's Ashley Amico (10-6).
“It's definitely an honor (to make it to state) because it's my sophomore year and I have two more years left to get better,” Jackson said. “I just want to get a new PR, that's my goal. I know there are other girls down there who are better than me, but I'm just doing it for myself.”
Jackson stated bringing home a medal would be a “major accomplishment” as a sophomore, but feels her better days are still ahead of her.
“I really want to beat the school record and medal at state,” Jackson said in regard to her goals before her high school career is over.
Lady Lion Chyanne Ellett, who will pitch in Friday night's one-game regional semifinal playoff against Vernon, will compete in the 4A girls discus competition at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Ellett finished as the Region I-4A runner-up in the discus with a distance of 116-11, which ranks eighth among state qualifiers. Also competing will be Tatum's Jayla Hooper (140-4), Grulla's Abigail Flores (138-8), Giddings' Ebony Wolridge (132-6), Orange Grove's Rebekah Halepaska (131-3), Gonzales' Devon Williams (127-5), Big Spring's Carlie Roberts (126-4), Rusk's Jaeda Garrett (124-5), and Lorena's Jacey Moore (116-7).
Ellett will be competing in her second UIL state event after serving as the pitcher for the Lady Lions' 2016 softball team that reached the state tournament.