Brownwood High School student-athletes will have 11 opportunities to vie for state championships during the UIL Class 4A Track and State Championships Saturday at the University of Texas’ Myers Stadium in Austin.
On the boys side, the Lions will compete in seven events — A.J. McCarty in both the long jump and triple jump, Tommy Bowden in both the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles, Braden Jetton in the 200 meters, and the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams of McCarty, Jetton, Royshad Henderson and Khyren Deal.
Brownwood will be represented in four events by the Lady Lions — Trinity Buitron in the 300-meter hurdles, Aleyia Cotton in the 400 meters, Kenya Barnes in the discus and the 4x400 relay team of Cotton, Alyssa Couey, Alex Fowler and Davalynn Monroe.
The following is a brief preview of each event in which Brownwood is competing in the order in which they are scheduled, along with thoughts from the Lions and Lady Lions on competing for state titles:
A.J. McCarty - long jump, triple jump
Having competed on the state stage before without collecting a medal, A.J. McCarty is more motivated than ever to reach the podium. Based on his Region I-4A efforts in the long jump and triple jump — where he won both events — a chance to earn two medals is well within the realm of possibility.
“I feel better than I have in past years about these events and feel like I can come back with some hardware,” McCarty said. “It helps a whole lot knowing that I’ve been there and I’m going back so I already have the experience, and the environment, I’m already used to it. It’s not going to be as nerve-racking as it has been in the past.”
McCarty ranks second in the triple jump heading into state with a new personal record of 46-6 at regionals, which trails only Kelvontay Dixon of Carthage (46-9).
In the long jump, McCarty had the third-best regional effort of 22-8.5, with the top spot belonging to Dayton Robinson of Bay City (23-0.75).
“I’m trying to jump a 23-9 or a 24 in the long jump and in the triple jump I want to get 47-5,” McCarty said.
As for the possibility of medaling in one, or both events, McCarty said, “It would be amazing. I’ve been wanting a medal in previous years and didn’t get it so if I can finally come out with a medal this year it would be a great feeling.”
The Class 4A boys long jump is slated to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, with the Class 4A boys triple jump set for a 1:15 p.m. start time.
Kenya Barnes - discus
Kenya Barnes is the competing in the lone field event for the Lady Lions, as the Region I-4A runner-up in the discus is making her state debut.
Barnes — the District 7-4A and 7/8-4A area meet champion in the discus — hurled a 136-0 at the regional meet, almost 10 feet better than her efforts at the two previous meets.
“It feels like I’ve worked so hard to get where I’m at right now and I deserve to be there,” Barnes said of making it to state.
Canyon’s Audrey Hughes (162-0) and Grulla’s Abigail Flores (160-6) on paper are the event favorites. Barnes owned the fifth-best regional time, but was one of three competitors to throw between 135-137 feet in their last outing. A solid effort Saturday could result in a medal-winning performance.
“I’m sitting fifth, but three of us are pretty much tied so I’m going to try and beat them to get third place,” Barnes said. “A 143 would be the goal distance.”
If Barnes shows the improvement from regionals to state that she did from area to regionals, that distance — and a medal — are well within reach.
And if Barnes comes home with a medal?
“I feel like all my hard didn’t go for nothing,” she said. “I’d prove to myself that I can do it when I put my mind to something, and that Brownwood is close-knit, we work really hard and I’m glad to help my team.”
The Class 4A girls discus will be held at noon Saturday.
Lions 4x100 relay, 4x200 relay -
A.J. McCarty, Braden Jetton,
Royshad Henderson and Khyren Deal
The Brownwood Lions’ 4x100 relay is making its second straight state appearance and is joined by the 4x200 relay this year.
“It feels good not to be going single handed,” said Khyren Deal, who added he was happier to be competing in a relay than an individual event. “We’re going as a team. I’m not only competing for myself, I’m competing for them also. We shocked ourselves on both relays at regionals and came out and ran our best times. If can build off that we should be OK.”
A.J. McCarty added, “I feel good about our relays , but if we can improve our handoffs in both of them we can become a little faster and have a chance to do even better.”
The 4x200 came in first at the Region I-4A meet in a time of 1:27.79, which ranks fourth among state qualifiers. Liberty Eylau holds down the top spot with a 1:26.95.
“In the 4x2 I don’t know how much more we can cut off, but we’d like to cut a little more, maybe run a 1:27.5, somewhere in that area,” Braden Jetton said
Royshad Henderson added, “I’d like a 1:26, but we just want to run the winning time.”
The 4x100 was the regional runner-up with a 42.25, and the eighth seed among state qualifiers as Liberty Eylau again owns the best time with a 41.56.
“In the 4x1 we want to get down around a 41.9, somewhere in that area,” Jetton said.
To medal in one or both relays would be the icing on the cake to a stellar spring sports season, according to Henderson.
“We’re successful in everything we’re doing right now so this would just add on to the success,” Henderson said. “The city is proud and everybody will be behind us.”
Regardless of the outcome, “I think it’s going to be a great feeling because we get to experience going to state,” said Jayron Anglin, who is listed as an alternate for state.
The Class 4A boys 4x100 relay will run at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with the 4x200 relay set to start at 7:35 p.m.
Tommy Bowden - 110-meter hurdles,
Tommy Bowden is looking to wrap up his Brownwood Lion athletic career with a pair of medals in the Class 4A boys 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles.
“I’m excited because I haven’t gotten out of regionals since my freshman year,” Bowden said. “To get out in both of them feels like an accomplishment. It’s cool to end my high school sports career at the state track meet.”
Bowden ran a 14.73 in the 100-meter hurdles at the Region I-4A meet to finish first, but his regional time ranks sixth among state qualifiers. Quentin Zapata of Devine (14.22) owns the top seed time.
In the 300-meter hurdles, Bowden’s time of 40.52 was second-best at the regional meet and is ninth-best among state qualifiers. Cameron Everts of Lampasas (38.82) is the No. 1 seed.
“In the 110 I’m sitting a little bit higher. I need to fix a couple of things on my 300 and I feel they’ll be pretty even,” Bowden said. “I’d like to run a 14.3 in the 110s and a 39 in the 300.”
As for the possibility of securing a pair of medals to conclude his high school career, Bowden said, “That’s the ultimate goal. I have a lot of work to do to get to that point, but that’d be awesome.”
The Class 4A boys 110-meter hurdles has a start time set for 6:35 p.m., with the 300-meter hurdles to begin at 8:40 p.m.
Aleyia Cotton - 400 meters
One of the top point-generators for the Lady Lions all season, Cotton was able to come in second in the Region I-4A girls 400 meters to punch a ticket to Austin.
“It’s a blessing,” Cotton said of advancing to state. “I feel like I’ve been working all year really hard and I feel like I’ve worked my way through to make it to state. I’m kind of nervous about it, but if I run like I usually do I can compete.”
Cotton’s time of 57.45 in Lubbock ranks sixth among state qualifiers, with Kiara Brown of Dallas Carter (55.91) owning the best time.
“I’d like to break my 57, hit a 56,” Cotton said of her state goal. “Me and another girl run a 57, but the rest are pretty close. I feel like if we’re running together, if I can just compete and finish strong, even if I’m tired, I think I can be in the top 5 at least.”
And if she were able to crack the top three and bring home a medal?
“It would mean a lot because I’ve been working so hard all year for this,” Cotton said.
The Class 4A girls 400 meters is slated to begin at 8:05 p.m. Saturday
Trinity Buitron - 300-meter hurdles
Qualifying for state in the pole vault last year, Trinity Buitron is returning to Austin in a completely different event this weekend as she finished second at the Region I-4A meet in the 300-meter hurdles.
Buitron just missed out on advancing again in the pole vault, as well as the 100-meter hurdles, so she was determined to finish strong in the 300-meter hurdles — her final event at regionals.
“I was very motivated because I knew it was my last event, so I knew I was either going to state or I wasn’t,” Buitron said. “It feels pretty good since last year I got third and wasn’t able to go ( in the 300 hurdles), so getting second at regionals was really great.”
Buitron’s regional time of 46.36 ranks seventh-best among state qualifiers, with Kimberly Carr of West Columbia (44.6) turning in the best effort.
Buitron has run faster in the past, and plans to do so again in Austin.
“The school record is a 45.67 which I set last year, so I’m going to try to break the school record,” Buitron said. “I know it’s going to be tough competition but I’m going to try my best. The training I’ve been doing is going to be really great for the race. I think I’m well-prepared.”
As for the potential of medaling?
“It would mean a lot to me,” Buitron said. “That would be a really big accomplishment.”
The Class 4A girls 300-meter hurdles is slated to take place at 8:35 p.m.
Braden Jetton - 200 meters
On paper, Brownwood Lion Braden Jetton has the best opportunity to not only medal, but compete for a state championship.
“When I get down there I just want to be focused on that race,” Jetton said. “When I get down in the blocks I’ll be thinking about nothing but winning.”
The Region I-4A champion in the 200 meters, Jetton ran a 21.43 which ranks second among state qualifiers, trailing only Robert Gregory of Houston Wheatley (21.06). At the 7/8-4A area meet, however, Jetton was clocked at 21.11.
“I really wanna drop a sub-21, a 20.9, 20.8, somewhere in that area,” Jetton said. “That’s been my goal since last state track meet so I’m hoping I can get that.”
If Jetton were able to medal, or bring home a state title, “It would unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve been working for four years to be in that spot so I’m really hoping I can come back with some hardware. Getting to go home and put that up on the mantle, that’d be a great feeling.”
The Class 4A boys 200 meters will begin at 9:05 p.m.
Lady Lions 4x400 relay - Davalynn Monroe,
Alex Fowler, Alyssa Couey and Aleyia Cotton
Brownwood’s stay at the UIL Class 4A State Track and Field Championships will conclude with the running of the 4x400 relay.
“It’s pretty awesome since we’ve worked really hard,” said Alex Fowler. “My freshman year I was like, I’m going to state in track, I’m going to do it. The past few years I came to the realization I wasn’t going, but then this year I felt like we had a chance.”
Alyssa Couey added, “I was surprised to be honest because we were all so dead tired at the regional meet. I couldn’t watch the last leg because I was so scared.”
The Lady Lions quartet came in second at regionals in a time of 4:02.87 which ranks as the sixth-best time among state qualifying teams. Dallas Carter (3:57.81) turned in the fastest regional effort.
“We’ve run at the stadium before for Texas Relays and Alyssa ran there before at state her freshman year, so I think it’s going to be pretty cool,” Fowler said. “I’m not that nervous.”
Couey added, “I think it’ll be nerve-racking, but I’m honestly expecting us to step up because I’ve noticed we do really well under pressure.”
Ideally, the Lady Lions would like to post a time under four minutes, but they have even bigger goals.
“If we can beat our school record, 3:57, that would be amazing, but getting under four minutes would be a good start,” Couey said.
“We haven’t run against a lot of really fast relay teams until regionals,” Cotton said. “I feel like when we get there we’ll have a chance to run like we really can.”
And if they found their way to the medal stand?
“All of the teams there have worked hard to get to this point and they all deserve to be there, so to medal, that would be a dream come true,” Fowler said.
The Class 4A girls 4x400 relay is set to start at 10:05 p.m. Saturday.