UIL State Meet – Friday Thoughts

I’m actually writing this on Saturday morning before head to the stadium to enjoy today’s events. Yesterday was, as always, a non-stop thrill ride for track & field fans. It’s always particularly fun for me because I know so many athletes and coaches who are participating each year.

Whitney Kitchen defends her 2A discus title.

Whitney Kitchen defends her 2A discus title.

Early morning rains gave way to a generally cool day on Friday which didn’t exactly help the speed events, but it sure didn’t dampen the competition at all.

A couple of things stood out for me personally. One was watching last year’s 2A champion Whitney Kitchen (Hawley) hold off a close competition with Haley Walker (Lockney) to win defend her title. I coached at Hawley las year and know Whitney is a great person who works very, very hard and I know Hawley head coach Jimmy Doyle is very proud of her.

I enjoyed watching Ellyana Long (The Woodlands) win the 6A high jump. Only 5′ 4″ and probably not much more than 100 pounds, Ellyana shows an incredible competitive spirit to go along with her incredible talent and a great coach in Noel Hansen that makes her a formidable foe going up against much taller opponents.

I was very impressed with Turkey Valley freshman Jake Merrell who, going up against favorite and seasoned veteran Jesse Roberts (Sanderson), opened up a huge lead in the 1A 800 with a 53.5 first lap. Looking like he was about to tie up at any moment, Merrell just kept running and running as Roberts closed in a little too late to make up the difference.

Boerne Champion's Heidi Borgerding won the 5A high jump.

Boerne Champion’s Heidi Borgerding won the 5A high jump.

In the 5A 4×100 girls relay, Arlington Seguin and Fort Bend Marshall took the last handoff side-by-side well ahead of the field setting up a thrilling battle down the last straightaway, but Fort Bend Bush’s Jarra Owens would not be denied. In one of those “ooooooh” moments that make the meet so much fun, Owens reeled in everyone with a awesome display of closing speed to give Bush the title in the final steps.

The highlight of day might have been the blazing 4×200 relay of the Fort Bend Marshall boys who sped to a 1:24.01 win in the #5 time in US history.

Today will undoubtedly hold many more special moments that will go down as part of the storied history of the world’s best high school meet.

If you get a chance, come down to the long jump pits at 4:00 today and watch Mesquite Horn’s Zuliat Alli compete for a state title. As Zu’s coach, I couldn’t be prouder of all this young lady has achieved. She is an example of how hard work combined with a powerful desire to succeed and the willingness to listen, learn, and be coached brings results. Keep your fingers crossed as we go for a state championship this afternoon!

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