The Class 5A and 6A State Track and Field Championships were contested last weekend in Austin with the meet signifying the ends of some historic careers at Flower Mound and Marcus, while other athletes will be back for more in 2020 and moving forward.
In the end, competitors from programs in Lewisville ISD and Coppell combined for four silver and three bronze medals, including a trio of athletes that returned to the Metroplex with hardware in multiple events.
“It was a pretty good weekend for us,” said Andrew Cook, Flower Mound head coach. “The kids performed well and I was really pleased with the way they competed. We were hoping one of our three would maybe come back with gold, but I can’t be disappointed in the way they fought. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is the largest classification and there are just so many talented runners.”
The depth of the state was on display as multiple athletes established personal-best times with the stakes at the highest but still fell short of that elusive gold.
That contingent included Flower Mound senior Alex Maier, who notched silver in the 3,200-meter run (9:00.03) and bronze in the 1,600 (4:09.41).
The state cross country champion and Oklahoma State signee managed to notch a PR in the mile, but wasn’t quick enough to catch Cole Lindhorst of Katy Tompkins (4:07.41) or Ryan Schoppe of LaPorte (4:07.47). In the two-mile, Maier was again outpaced by Schoppe (8:52.73), but his second-place performance gives him a total of three medals at state after earning silver in the 3,200 as a sophomore.
“Alex had a great meet and I can’t say enough about what he did not only this season, but what he has done to turn around our program over his four years,” Cook said. “It isn’t just how fast he is, but what he has done as a leader. The same goes for (senior) Anastasia (Davis). They’re both largely responsible for the success we’ve had as a program of late.”
Also in action in the 3,200 was Hebron’s Myles Richter (fifth, 9:15.15).
Speaking of Davis, the BYU signee fell just shy of the podium after placing fourth in the 800 (2:11.76).
“It wasn’t quite the time she had at regionals, and she was a little disappointed to come so close,” Cook said. “But like I said, she’s had an outstanding career for us, making it to state as an individual as a freshman in cross (country) and really leading our program.”
While the books are officially closed on the running careers for Maier and Davis, freshman Natalie Cook is just getting going and took advantage of her debut at state by earning silver in the 3,200 (10:24.96) and bronze in the 1,600 (4:50.09).
Both of Cook’s times established Flower Mound records, but it wasn’t good enough for first, in particular in the 3,200 where Denton Guyer’s Brynn Brown set a new state record (10:09.91).
“We are very happy with Natalie,” coach Cook said. “We try not to mention being a freshman because we don’t want to make excuses or to add any pressure, and she really responded well to the high stakes.
“The thing I was most pleased about Natalie this season was how consistent she was for her age. Of course she competed, but she was so consistent and didn’t have any slip-ups. We’re so happy with her season even though she still has room to grow.”
Speaking of records falling, Mansfield Lake Ridge’s Jasmine Moore not only smashed the previous state record in the triple jump, her distance of 44-10 set a new national record and eclipsed the previous mark by nearly eight inches.
That was all that kept Marcus senior Lorielle Daniel from taking first as the senior — who previously won bronze in the event as a junior — finished as runner-up (41-6).
The Kansas signee wasn’t done there, however, as she became the first Marcus jumped to medal in both the triple jump and long jump with a bronze-medal showing in the latter (19-1 1/2).
Daniel’s showing in the triple jump was a wild ride as she went from second, to third, to fourth, to third, to fifth and then all the way back to second on her final jump.
“I can’t think of a better way to go out than to PR and get silver on the last jump of your career,” said Steve Telaneus, Marcus head coach. “It was so exciting and I really have to give it up to Lori. She competes and when it comes to the big meets she really rises and shines.
“She wasn’t picked to medal in the long jump, but she stepped up with some great jumps.”
Daniel wasn’t the only Marcus athlete in Austin with previous state experience and success, however, as seniors Taryn Hankins and Mackenzie Hayward were also in action.
The former, an Arizona State signee who competed at state in all four of her years with the Lady Marauders and owns seven program records, finished fifth in the 100 (11.67) after earning silver in the 400 relay a year ago.
“She raced well, the other girls were just really fast and edged her,” Telaneus said. “She had a great career, though, and is the best female sprinter we’ve ever had.”
While Hankins will go down as Marcus’ best sprinter, Hayward’s credentials in the pole vault were already well-established after winning gold at state as a freshman and junior and silver as a sophomore.
Unfortunately, the future Baylor Bear missed out on going 4-for-4 by taking sixth (12-0).
“We were really disappointed as was she,” Telaneus said. “She tried to come back from a broken foot midway through the season and never could get enough work to quite get there. Every meet was a battle emotionally and physically just to get through district, area and regionals to even qualify for state. I don’t know if she just ran out of energy, but she just didn’t have it. That doesn’t take away from how good she is, though. She’s one of the best high school vaulters ever.”
For Coppell, Jackson Walker became the first Cowboy runner to win a state medal since Tre Gardner claimed silver in the 100 in 1998 as the junior finished in second place in the 800 (1:53.19).
And while Walker was certainly pleased to achieve his goal of reaching the podium, he couldn’t help but be disappointed after setting the pace for a majority of the race.
“He led the whole way until he got passed with about 30 meters left,” said Nick Benton, Coppell head coach. “We knew that (Clute Brazoswood’s Robert Whitmarsh) was a 400 runner and could sprint, and he came up from fifth all the way to first in the last 125 meters.”
Benton added that Walker posted one of his better times on Saturday, and finished strong, just not as strong as Whitmarsh.
“With about 200 meters left, Jackson was about seven or eight meters ahead,” he said. “He maintained his pace, he just got caught, and it’s tough to adjust when that happens so late in the race.”
Also in action for the Cowboys was Corbin Hicks, who finished eighth in the shot put (51-7 1/2) and discus (152-4).
“It was the best showing for Corbin, but just getting there is a big deal and he went out with a great senior year,” Benton said.
In the 5A ranks, meanwhile, The Colony was represented by standout football players Christian Gonzalez and Myles Price.
Both boasting better than 20 offers to compete on the gridiron, the juniors also have plenty of option to run track and field at the next level and showed why by qualifying for state in the 200 and long jump, respectively.
Gonzalez came away with a sixth-place finish (21.71), while Price earned fifth (22-9 1/4).