One of the beautiful things about next month’s UIL State Track and Field Championships is that it’ll involve nothing but finals. Every race, every competition, as always, determines a state champion.
As for the prelims, those are, for all intents and purposes, taking place this weekend.
All over the state, the UIL’s regional meets will unfold on Friday and Saturday. They’re the precursor to state, and just as intense. Only the top two finishers in each event at the four regionals will advance on to state.
Just how elite is the competition? Well, put it this way: Even those who follow national track and field know that in Texas the regional meets are as good or better than most other state meets.
“It’s unreal, because they literally only take two regional qualifiers on to state,” said Tom Hill, meet director for the Region III-3A and Region II-6A meets that will take place at Midway this weekend. “We’ve had times that were in the top six at regionals that would have been state medalists elsewhere. … Every year, Track and Field News calls me to make sure we have wind gauges for the field events and the running straightaways, just in case any national records are set.”
Wind or no wind, Midway’s Panther Stadium will be buzzing this weekend. The Region II-6A meet features plenty of rich competition, as it spans an area from Dallas (with the likes of Garland, Mesquite and Duncanville) down to Houston (with The Woodlands, Klein and Cypress-area schools). Of course, Region II-6A also incorporates Districts 11 and 12, including Central Texas teams like Midway, Waco High, Belton and Temple.
It’s an especially busy time for Hill, who also helped organize and host the Region II-6A golf tournaments in Waco this week at Bear Ridge. Next week will bring regional tennis action to town, and then Midway will host the TAPPS State Track and Field Championships on April 30-May 1.
“It’s like the old days, even with all the new hotels,” Hill said. “I had some officials call me two days ago, and I had to put them down in Temple.”
The Region III-3A meet should feature loads of lively local competition. Lorena’s boys and girls swept the team titles at the District 17-18 Area Meet, so the Leopards figure to be a strong candidate to send plenty of athletes on to Austin. But lots of other Central Texas athletes will take part, from schools like McGregor, Clifton, Riesel, Troy, West and Whitney.
Among the athletes to watch on the girls’ side is Cameron Yoe freshman Yierra Flemings, who leads all of Class 3A in the 100 hurdles (15.08) and ranks second in both the long jump (18-2.5) and triple jump (36-2.75). For the boys, keep an eye out for Whitney sophomore Demari Wilson, the state 3A leader in the 100-meter dash with a season-best of 10.57 seconds.
Other regional meets of note involving Central Texas schools this weekend include the Region II-5A Championships in Springtown, the Region III-4A meet in League City, and the Region III-2A meet in Palestine.
Wildcats, Leopards nab state golf berths
The Whitney and Lorena boys golf teams are state-bound after finishing second and third, respectively, at the Region III-3A tournament at Brenham Country Club in Brenham.
Whitney shot team rounds of 347 and 362 for a 709 total, behind only regional champ Central Pollok (333-341-674). Whitney was led by Tate Winkler in 13th place, with rounds of 86 and 88 for a 174 total.
Lorena carded rounds of 360 and 359 for a 719 total to punch its ticket to state. The Leopards were led by John Mann, who shot consecutive rounds of 79 for a 158 total and a fourth-place finish overall. Ethan Norwood (78-89-167) also notched a Top 10 finish for Lorena in eighth. But Lorena coach Ken Thompson said that a big key to the Leopards’ advancing was the play of David Boozer, who shaved 11 strokes off his first-round score with a second-round 98. Lorena clinched third by just eight strokes over Nacogdoches Central Heights.
Additionally, Cameron Yoe’s Kaden Kuzel qualified for state as an individual. Kuzel shot 81-83-164 and finished fifth overall.
Those state qualifiers will next compete at the UIL Class 3A state tournament May 17-18 at ShadowGlen Golf Club in Manor.
Midway golfer leads girls’ regional
Midway senior Eubin Shim grabbed the individual lead as she opened the RegionII-6A girls’ golf tournament with a round of 2-under-par 70 on Wednesday at Bear Ridge Golf Club.
Shim, who has signed to play college golf at Boston College, has a three-stroke lead on Copperas Cove senior Elle Fox and Tomball senior Sofia Trevino in a tie for second place.
The Woodlands, who won the boys’ regional team title in a playoff against Midway on Tuesday, shot 22-over 310 to stake a 15-stroke lead in the girls’ team standings.
The Region II-6A tournament will finish with the second round on Thursday, back at Bear Ridge.
Valley Mills hires Featherston as AD/HFC
Valley Mills has installed a new head football coach and athletic director, hiring Bob Featherston to fill those roles on April 15.
Featherston spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Mount Vernon. He served under former Baylor coach Art Briles, helping Mount Vernon go 20-6 those two seasons.
Featherston replaces Sam Moody at Valley Mills. Moody went 9-22 in three seasons piloting the Eagles, with one playoff appearance in 2018. Valley Mills is coming off a 4-6 season in 2020 that included a pair of forfeit wins over Itasca and Crawford.
Ex-Lady Bear great to speak at Victory Bowl banquet
Former Baylor women’s basketball great Sophia Young-Malcolm will be the featured speaker at the Heart of Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Super Centex Victory Bowl banquet on Sunday.
Young-Malcolm spurred the Lady Bears to their first NCAA title in 2005 before going on to a successful WNBA career with the San Antonio Silver Stars. She will be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in August.
Sunday’s banquet is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Baylor’s McLane Stadium. The event will showcase the players, cheerleaders and coaches for this summer’s games.
The seventh annual Victory Bowl baseball and softball all-star games will be June 11 at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton. Midway joins as a new host for the ninth annual volleyball contest and the 14th annual football game on June 12.
Paint the town (again), Bishop Reicher
Nobody in Central Texas puts a better product on the field than Bishop Reicher.
We’re talking paint, folks.
Once again, Reicher won a Fields of Excellence Award from Pioneer Athletics for its outstanding field crew work at JJ Kearns Stadium. A group of Reicher dads volunteer to decorate the field in creative designs, including a large blue Cougar wearing a COVID-approved mask.
As an award winner, Bishop Reicher receives a certificate and a banner, and Pioneer may feature the school in its upcoming publications or calendars. Pioneer awarded 73 Field of Excellence honors to high schools and colleges around the country, with two randomly chosen to receive scholarships.