BLANKET — Coming off a torn quad injury that kept him off the football field most of the season, Blanket junior Logan Wheeler’s recovery has progressed well enough for him to earn regional titles in the Class A boys 100 and 200 meters. Now, Wheeler — the reigning 200 meters state champion and 100 meters runner-up — is prepared to head back to the UIL Track and Field State Championships at the University of Texas’ Myers Stadium and hopefully collect two more medals.
Wheeler won’t be the lone Blanket competitor this year, however, as Lady Tiger junior Kaitlyn Graham captured the Region III-A championship in the long jump to punch her ticket to Austin as well.
Graham jumped 16-4.25, which ranks seventh among regional performances, to take the title in Whitney. Graham’s personal-best this season is a 16-5 and she has a goal of 16-8 at state. Claude’s Lanie Stapp owns the best regional effort of all state qualifiers, jumping a 17-8.75.
“I feel like I’m right in the middle but I can compete with the top contenders,” Graham said. “It feels pretty great (to be going to state). I need to get height, that’s my big deal. I started off OK, then we started working on height. I progressively got better throughout the meets. I jumped a 16 at the third meet and I just kept going from there.”
As for the environment of the state meet, Graham said, “I’m expecting it to be different, but I’m not going to freak out. I’m going to stay calm and do what I do.”
And if Graham returned home with a medal?
“It would mean a lot, I really want to,” she said.
The Class A girls long jump takes place at 9:45 a.m. Friday.
Health may be the greatest concern for Wheeler, who said, “I feel like I’m 100 percent. I feel great and I’ve gradually been getting better and better. I’ve been a little bit slower this year, but my regional times this year were a lot better than last year. Hopefully at state I can peak, get a new PR and break some state records.”
The previous injury, along with defending a championship, makes this year’s meet more stressful for Wheeler than last year’s two-medal effort.
“I definitely feel a lot of pressure coming off my injury from football season,” he said. “Being a returning state champion in the 200 meters there’s a big red target on my back. Everybody’s coming in strong, so there’s a lot of pressure.”
Wheeler enters the 200 meters with the second-best regional time of 22.66, trailing only Hunter Metteauer of Chireno (22.48). Last year, Wheeler ran a 22.34 to win the event.
In the 100 meters, Wheeler ran a 10.99 at regionals which was fourth best and a tick behind his 10.89 performance at state last year. Rule’s Chase Thompson has the top qualifying time of 10.79.
“I’m definitely going to have to run in the mid 10s in the 100 and a real low 22 if not a high 21 in the 200,” Wheeler said of his goal times.
As for bringing home two more medals, and possibly a pair of state championships this weekend, Wheeler said, “I think it would be amazing. I’ve been praying so hard about this. I just think it would be phenomenal to come back from this injury and win again. It’d be crazy.”
The Class A boys 100 meters takes place at 7:15 p.m. Friday with the 200 meters set to start at 9:25 p.m. Friday.