By the time Prosper junior Aubrey O’Connell exited Mike A. Myers Stadium on Saturday, she had logged 3.5 miles of running at the UIL Class 6A state track and field championships.
It’s something only three other student-athletes have done at the 6A level, and O’Connell’s busy Saturday didn’t come without some hardware. The Prosper distance runner captured the second state title of her decorated career, finishing first in the 800-meter run with a 2:08.52 as part of a meet where she also ran the 1,600 and 3,200.
“I think, mentally, it definitely takes a toll on you,” said Jennifer Gegogeine, Prosper head coach. “Fortunately with Aubrey, we had been experimenting with that throughout the season. She wanted something challenging and since the UIL changed the rules to allow you to compete in all three distance events, it’s something not many have been able to pull off.”
It’s something O’Connell and the Lady Eagles had prepared for, with Gegogeine noting that she had to compete in all three events at the area meet on April 15 due to compressed scheduling. Fittingly enough, she ran a personal record in the 800 at 2:08.64 that day.
“We had done this at the area meet, doing everything in one day. Having that as a baseline helped us figure out to handle it,” Gegogeine said. “I think there’s a lot of anticipation knowing that you have three races ahead of you and against top competition, so we just told her to take it one lap at a time and one race at a time. After the 3,200, where she ran her second-fastest time, she was feeling pretty good and I think that confidence helped her for the 800, which is the race she had the goal of winning.”
O’Connell placed fifth in the two-mile run with a 10:38.33, laying the groundwork for an emphatic effort in the 800. Leading by just .17 seconds in a closely knit pack midway through the race, O’Connell distanced from the group over the final 400 meters. She ultimately won the 800 by nearly two seconds.
“It’s a race that she knows and has confidence in,” Gegogeine said. “One of her greatest assets is her foot speed because of how it helps close in a race. … It wasn’t something that was necessarily in the cards for her back in the fall. She initially ran the 800 just wanting to break the school record, which was 2:14. Her first time running it this season, she ran a 2:11. I asked if she wanted to run it at state, since that was already one of the best times in the state. She said that she would think about it.”
O’Connell went on place sixth in the 1,600 in the penultimate race of the meet, running a 4:59.17. Her win in the 800 was her first state championship in track and the second of her high school career, previously winning state in cross country as a sophomore in 2019.
“She’s all about the team. Even when the rest of the team’s season was over, they wanted to train with Aubrey,” Gegogeine said. “The boys would continue to pace her at practice. It’s a team effort and she’s all about putting the team first before any individual accomplishments.”
Bartholomew goes out on top
McKinney Boyd senior Charlie Bartholomew didn’t let the final race of his high school career go to waste. A first-time state qualifier, Bartholomew concluded his four-year run as a Bronco not just with a personal record in the 400 dash but a gold medal as well.
Bartholomew ran a 47.27, the only sub-48-second time in the entire race to place first overall. Nearly perfect on the year in running the 400 — his only defeat came in a second-place finish in the preliminary round at regionals — Bartholomew cruised past his previous PR of 48.13, set in the regional finals on April 24.
He was one of two Boyd runners competing in the 400, as senior Makayla Tucker placed eighth in her race with a 56.63.
Also in action on the boys side was Boyd senior Spencer Buley, who finished sixth in the pole vault at 15-6.
McKinney had representation at state as well, enjoying a productive day for senior Omari Walker. The sprinter nearly landed on the podium in the 100, running a 10.16 to place fourth by the slimmest of margins. That same time was run by Alief Taylor’s De’montray Callis, but it was determined that seven-thousandths of a second separated the two with Callis’ 10.153 besting Walker’s 10.160. The race drew national attention following a photo finish for first place between Harlingen’s Jose Garcia and College Park’s Connor Washington, who were both clocked at 10.00 — Garcia’s time was narrowed to 9.998 to Washington’s 9.999.
Walker went on to take fifth in the 200 at 21.05.
Barrera medals among LISD qualifiers
Lewisville ISD had representation from three high schools during Saturday’s 6A state meet, highlighted by a third-place finish in the 800 by Hebron senior Isaac Barrera. His time of 1:52.56 edged Marcus senior Greyson Gravitt, who took fourth in the race at 1:53.94. Flower Mound senior Joseph Kelsey finished sixth at 1:54.52.
Barrera also ran the first leg of the Hawks’ sixth-place 4x400 relay, joined by senior Johnathan Jackson, sophomore Calvin Dixon and senior Justin Smith, to run a 3:20.93.
On the girls side, Hebron junior Skylar Bohlman finished one spot shy of the medal stand with a fourth-place finish in the discus throw (154-11). Teammate and senior Keaton Morrison to fifth in the 1,600 with a 4:56.40.
Marcus, meanwhile, had eight student-athletes competing at state. Sophomore Emma Sralla medaled in her first-ever appearance at the meet after a third-place finish in the discus throw (163-10). Senior Mackenzie Jefferson took seventh in the triple jump at 38-2 1/2, and junior Kim Ume-Ezeoke managed seventh in the 300 hurdles (44.25).
On the boys side, Marcus senior J. Michael Sturdivant competed in four events in Austin. He teamed with juniors Ryan Dyess Coyle, Benton Webber and Christian Floyd for fifth place in the 4x100 relay at 40.83 and had individual finishes of ninth place in the 100 (10.39), eighth place in the 200 (21.23) and seventh place in the long jump (22-10 1/4).
The Marauders were also represented by seniors Grady Ward in the pole vault (15-0, eighth place) and Hunter Sanders in the discus throw (170-10, seventh).
Flower Mound had eight athletes from its girls team competing at state, including two relays. The unit of sophomore Olivia Worrell, freshman Emma Hoang and juniors London Gray and Dayana Felicien took fifth in the 4x200 relay (1:40.53) and Gray and Hoang teamed with freshman Nicole and Samantha Humphries for seventh in the 4x400 relay (3:15.71).
Nicole Humphries added fifth in the 800 2:13.70, junior Natalie Cook managed fourth in the 3,200 (10:32.92) and junior Eva Vreeland logged sixth in the 100 hurdles (14.24).
Plano East, West athletes crack top 5
Fresh off a top five team finish at regionals, the Plano East girls built off that effort by earning a pair of fourth-place finishes at state. The 4x100 relay of junior Kaylee Moody, senior Ibukun Alausa, junior Kaley Qualls and junior Tiriah Kelley began the running finals by taking fourth with a 46.05. Moody, Qualls and Alausa teamed with sophomore Janiya Richardson for eighth in the 4x200 relay (1:40.39).
Kelley, meanwhile, was busy on Saturday. In addition to the sprint relay, she competed in the 100 (11.58, seventh place) and 200 (23.62, fourth).
East junior Aiden Hayes added eighth place in the high jump (6-4).
Representing Plano West was senior Michelle Ogbemudia, who finished her high school career by placing fifth at state in the shot put (44-3 1/4).
Allen junior Sidney Green notched eighth place in the 300 hurdles (44.85) as the high school’s lone participant in the state meet.