Wall Veterans Eyeing Potential Team Sweep at State Track Meet
WALL, TX -- Coming off what is believed to be the first regional sweep by the Wall Hawk and Lady Hawk track teams, a potential state sweep in Class 3A is in their sights.
The Wall Hawks are used to sending a large number of athletes to the state track meet in Austin. This year, they’ll send a total of 10 athletes and four alternates.
Highlighting that group are seniors Sam Rocha, Jayden Fiebiger, Sawyer Lloyd, Mason Kindle and Drake Holifield. Between the quartet, they will have a combined 25 total state appearances when they step onto the track at Mike Myers Stadium in Austin.
Holifield will make his fourth straight appearance after qualifying in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. It’s the first time he’s qualified in the latter of the two events.
Despite coming off a broken back that left Holifield out all football season, Holifield says this is the perfect way to end his high school career.
“It’s just another year to me, honestly,” he said. “It is the last year, so I’m gonna go out with a bang.”
Holifield is going to compete at state for his fourth consecutive year. That’s, in part, thanks to some of the best times of his career.
“For a boy athlete to compete at state four years in a row, that tells you something about his God-given athletic ability,” head coach Shawn Beeles said. “The times he’s run this year are a combination of maturity, going through workouts to get in better shape. Coach (Taylor) Howie has done a tremendous job kinda refining some of his hurdle form. So, when you add all that stuff together, plus being a senior, you see the results of everything falling into place and being right for him to compete at his best.”
So far, Holifield has run some of the fastest times of his career, including a personal record of 38.98 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles prelims at the regional meet in Abilene.
That means the bar is set really high for the Oklahoma Christian University-bound senior -- just where he likes it.
“I’m really excited,” Holifield said. “I’ve never ran as fast as I did at regionals this year. So, that boosts my confidence going into state. I think I have a great chance to win.”
But Holifield’s work is not lost on his head coach.
“With a kid who’s dealt with so much physically as he has, I’m ecstatic,” Beeles said. “He’s an ultimate competitor. Hurt or not, you know you’re gonna get his best. And, obviously, when he’s healthy, you can see what he’s capable of doing.”
For Fiebiger, Lloyd and Rocha, it’s a familiar feeling going back to state. Each have appeared at the state track meet multiple times, with Fiebiger making her fourth appearance, Lloyd her third and Rocha her second. The trio has also made two appearances at the state basketball tournament as well.
After falling in the state basketball semifinals this year, and with six athletes scheduled to compete in six events, they’re hungry to bring home a state track title.
“The opportunity to get to do this is awesome because we got to do it in basketball already,” Lloyd said. “Even though we didn’t get the gold, we have an opportunity to transfer it over here on the track and go for the win. It’s awesome that we’re all together.”
Lloyd will make her debut in the long jump after qualifying as the top third place finisher out of all four regions. All she needs is that chance.
“Nothing is set in stone. Nobody has the gold yet,” Lloyd said. “So, I think everybody has a chance.”
Rocha felt nervous at her state debut in high jump last year. But she still took home bronze in Austin. That experience is something she’ll lean on going for gold this year.
“I’m hoping the experience I got last year will help me not be as nervous,” Rocha said. “If I high jump like I do at every other meet, I could come out with possibly a gold medal.”
Rocha matched her personal record in high jump with a jump of 5-feet, 7 inches at the Region I meet to finish second, all the while battling discomfort in her hip area. That added confidence to the Angelo State basketball signee’s hopes for gold.
“It gave me a lot of confidence, especially with having my groin strained,” Rocha said. “I figured out it’s more of a mental game. I can do whatever I put my mind to and I wanted to get back to state. I just made myself think that and I did it.”
Wall has a chance to make history and bring home a team title in both the boy’s and girl’s divisions, but it won’t be easy. Wall isn’t the only one rolling deep to Austin.
“The girls are right there. There’s four teams sending a lot of people,” Beeles said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were three teams over 50 points at the state track meet. That’s unheard of. We just wanna give ourselves the best opportunity to be one of those. We have the ability and the possibility.”
A good showing in Austin would help Wall, who currently sits tied with Corpus Christi London in second behind Brock by seven points.
“It’s an awesome thing that we don’t take for granted,” Beeles said. “It’s nice to be around everyday where it’s not about them. That’s life, it’s not about you. That’s probably the proudest moment as a coach, when they’re giving themselves up for the greater good.”
A few weeks back, Holifield even told coach he’d be willing to give up an individual event if it meant they’d have a stronger relay team.
The state track meet begins on Friday, May 10, at 8:00 a.m. at the University of Texas’ Mike Myers Stadium.
Recommended for You
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.