For just a second-year varsity program, it hasn't taken long for Prosper Rock Hill to assert itself among the area's elite in track and field.
The school qualified in four events for Friday's Class 5A state meet, held at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas in Austin, and finished on the podium in every one. Three of those came on the girls' side, which helped the Lady Blue Hawks to a fourth-place team finish with 30 points.
"I'm really proud of our progress so far. To be just out of our second year and to already finish in the top five in the state is incredible," said Zach Morgan, Rock Hill head coach. "We had one qualifier last year and then had three events this year, and I just couldn't be more proud of the way these kids bought into our team philosophy."
Senior Jourdin Edwards had a hand in all three of the Lady Blue Hawks' races at state and sported three medals by day's end. Individually, she took second in the 100-meter hurdles with a 14.08 and added third in the 300 hurdles with a 42.80. Both times were personal records.
"[Edwards is] really good at doing the little things and taking care of them outside of practice. She does a great job with drills and refining her technique," Morgan said. "She does workouts on the weekend to help with that and even at practice we'll spend a longer time with her sessions because she's doing multiple events. But she's willing to put in that work to get that extra edge and be a better athlete."
Edwards also ran the third leg on Rock Hill's 4x400 relay, which capped Friday's meet with a second-place time of 3:47.87. Edwards teamed with senior Amari Wrightsil, sophomore Shiloh Brooks and junior Kyla Lewis.
Rock Hill's lone boys qualifier, senior Gavin Hecke, continued his perfect postseason in the pole vault by capturing first place in the event with a 16-3. Hecke was one of three athletes who advanced to that height and was the only one to clear the mark, doing so on his first attempt.
McKinney North junior Alexandra Harber enjoyed similar success in that same event, defending her 5A state title in the pole vault with a 13-0. She matched her PR, which came at last year's state meet.
Competing in Austin once again brought out the best in Harber, who cleared each height on her first attempt prior to facing 13-3. And roughly 45 minutes after competing in the pole vault, she placed third in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.17.
"Sasha is a competitor. When the fire is on, she gets the best out of herself," said Jessica Richards, North girls head coach. "She was there last year, so being back you could see that she was much more calm and knew how the whole process worked. She was ready to go. She wanted to go over 13, but it's still really impressive that she was able to get back there and repeat."
Alongside Harber, the North girls added a fourth-place finish in the 4x100 relay from juniors Whitney Hickman and Caitlin Coffie, plus senior Leah Pettis and freshman Ryhan Balous (46.52).
On the boys' side, senior Kody Blackwood had a busy day for the Bulldogs after qualifying in three events. Blackwood finished his high school career on a high note, winning his first-ever state gold following a first-place finish in the 300 hurdles at 36.14.
Blackwood bested friendly rival and future college teammate Kendrick Smallwood of Mesquite Poteet by one-tenth of a second in the 300 hurdles after the two had swapped places on the podium early in the 110 hurdles. Blackwood took second in that race with a 13.63 and helped North post a second-place time in the 4x400 relay of 3:15.31 alongside sophomores Taylor Briggs and Jayden Walker, plus junior David Walker.
"That was so awesome. To see [Blackwood] win regionals in the 300 hurdles and come back and do it on that stage, just knowing how much he wanted it and how hard he has worked for it, for him to walk away with that medal was just incredible," Richards said.
Lovejoy sophomore Kailey Littlefield, meanwhile, continued her ascent as the state's premier runner in the 800. She now has her spot in the history books to prove it, breaking the state-meet record of 2:06.71, set by McKinney Boyd's Aaliyah Miller in 2016, after running a 2:06.21 on Friday.
Littlefield also ran the 1,600, finishing seventh with a 5:09.18, as well as the anchor leg on Lovejoy's 4x400 relay. That group took fourth with a 3:51.58 and included junior Leila Ngapout, freshman Mia Reaugh and junior Amy Morefield.
Morefield placed fifth in the 3,200 earlier in the day, running an 11:21.22, while her younger sister, sophomore Sara Morefield, earned a spot on the podium with a third-place time of 11:00.99.
Senior Riley McGowan competed in two events for the Leopards, taking sixth in the 300 hurdles (48.95) and teaming up with junior Jaxson Lavender, sophomore Parker Livingstone and senior Omari Murdock to finish third with a 3:16.21.
There was plenty of hardware to go around for the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD duo of Newman Smith junior Aniyah Bigam and Creekview senior McKenzie Davis. Bigam, who won three events at regionals, medaled in each race at state — winning gold in the 100 (11.46) and 200 (23.26) and claiming bronze in the 400 (55.26). Davis, meanwhile, medaled in the discus throw with a second-place mark of 150-10 and took sixth in the shot put at 43-7 3/4.
One day earlier on Thursday, the state meet kicked off with a productive showing from Celina in 4A action. The Bobcats had student-athletes competing in five different events and returned from Austin with two medals, including a long-awaited gold for senior Grant Williams. One of the state's top performers in the 300 hurdles, Williams followed through on his standing as the event's top seed and clocked a 37.30 to win that race by a full second.
The star hurdler then ran the anchor leg in the Bobcats' 4x400 relay, teaming with junior Josten Watkins, senior Jayden Tucker and sophomore Ben Thomas to finish fourth at 3:20.21.
Celina junior Alexis Frick also finished on the podium after placing third in the 1,600 with a personal-best time of 5:06.09. Earlier in the day, Frick posted a fourth-place time of 11:06.01 in the 3,200, and senior Michael Reemts took eighth in the shot put at 50-3 1/2.