STATE TRACK MEET: Area Super Seniors Cap Off Careers with Hardware on Day 1
AUSTIN, TX -- The first day of the UIL state track meet saw a star-studded lineup of Concho Valley senior athletes put the proverbial cherry on top of their prep careers and on one of the biggest stages in the sport.
In front of a packed crowd at Mike Meyers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas, area athletes took home a grand total of 19 medals on the day.
The Garden City boys put forth the area's best showing, finishing second as a team with 38 points. Paducah won the Boy's Class 1A team title with 60 points.
Fiebiger Holds 3-Medal Promise
Leading up to the state meet, Wall senior and Oklahoma State track signee Jayden Fiebiger said she was going to win three medals. She kept that promise with a gold in the 800-meter run, a silver in the 400-meter run and a bronze with Wall's 4x400-meter relay.
"It's super, super awesome to finish my high school career like this," Fiebiger said. "I'm so happy we got to medal in the mile relay. Everyone ran so, so good and I was so excited."
Fiebiger started her day by shattering her personal record in the 800-meter run to claim gold with a time of 2 minutes, 14.80 seconds. Her winning time was a little over a second off the 3A state meet record set by Albany's Desi Hudson in 1996 and was 1.62 seconds faster than second place.
"(It was) so amazing," Fiebiger said of her 800. "I just felt so loose. Even though the weather wasn't the best, I was just so ready to run. ... Just to be able to finish off my last time in high school running here and as a state champion is just amazing. I can't wait to see what happens if I run the 800 here next year in college."
The Stillwater-bound senior finished third in the event last year. She was determined to make sure she was at the top of the podium this time around and she jumped out in front early, never looking back.
"I think the past three years, I've really focused on 'well, you're at state. You're not the best, you're with the best,'" Fiebiger said. "So, I've kind of put myself with the pack. But this year, I've just been training so hard and said, 'You know what, I'm going out on my pace.'"
Fiebiger then took to the track later in the evening for the 400-meter race and she found stiffer competition in Coleman's Shiean Walters, who would claim gold in the event. The two were a fraction of a second off from each other, with Walters running a 56.86 and Fiebiger running a 57.32.
Being around that competition is something Fiebiger always looks forward to around this time of year. The two usually meet each other for the first time of the season at regionals, where, this year, the two were both pushing each other to hit 56 seconds, Fiebiger said.
"I love running against her," Fiebiger added. "Last year, I finished third behind her at regionals and didn't finish well at state. This year, at region we both were trying to go for that 56. I beat her at region by milliseconds. We both ran 57s (at regionals), so I was so happy for her when she got that 56 today."
Fiebiger, fellow senior Sawyer Lloyd and sophomores Maci Beeles and Shaylee Shiller worked together to make sure their mile relay finished on the podium after battling brief rain that fell during the event. Yet, despite knowing the conditions could make exchanges tougher, the quartet wanted to have some fun and run in the rain.
"Coming out of the blocks was terrifying because I was scared I was gonna slip or drop the baton because it was raining," Beeles half-heartedly joked.
"I was excited. I was praying for it to rain because I thought it'd be fun," Shiller said with all seriousness.
For the sophomores who aspire to be like their senior leaders, finishing on the podium and giving their mentors that one last medal was special. The seniors have made it easy to buy in to the program, the sophomores noted.
"It's real easy (to buy in) because we have great role models to look up to. They push us and we want to be just like them," Beeles said.
For the seniors, the moment was just as special.
"It means a lot for me and Jayden both because we went out with a bang," Lloyd said. "We ended our season great. Jayden ended it great. These sophomores stepped up. It's awesome what we did and what we accomplished here."
Water Valley Gets Late Surge in 800-meter Relay; Jordan Medals Twice
After missing the podium by 14-hundredths of a second in the 400-meter relay, the Water Valley Lady Wildcats were looking to find some traction in the 800-meter relay and didn't find it until the last leg.
Entering the final 200 meters of the race, Water Valley looked to be in last. A stumble by one team opened the door and Kenzie Jordan set out to pick off runners one by one. She would eventually get to third and put Water Valley on the podium with a time of 1:50.16, half a second off second place Blum.
Jordan's strategy entering the anchor leg was simple -- see how many runners she could pass.
"At first, I was very anxious ... if I could get us at least to the podium," Jordan said. "As I started to gain on one girl, I passed her. Then I was like, 'Ok, I can get the next, then the next and then the next.' So, I got us on the podium."
For the relay team of junior Kirstyn Greebon and seniors Shelby Kolls, Cayce Jackson and Jordan, sharing one last moment on the podium, after a wild race, was special.
"To me it felt great, because that's the last time we'll be together on a podium," Greebon said. "So, that was really special to me."
"It's really special, especially for me because I wasn't supposed to be running," Kolls said. "So, it was an honor as a senior to get to run with my best friends and get to end the year with a bang."
Jordan would then get what she called the best start of her career to springboard her to gold in the 200-meter dash later that night. Could there be any more perfect way to go out?
"No, not really," Jordan laughed. "After the 4x200, I was pretty whooped. Then my family was around me, just trying to keep my attention away from my next race so I could take a breather. When I got out there, all I could think was 'I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.' I was really proud of that start. ... I've been working on that since freshman year. It's always been bad."
Water Valley's Kendra Hoover and Hunter Sturguess began the school's medal talley with podium finishes in discus during the morning session of the meet.
Sonora's Shannon Finally Strikes Gold in Last State Meet
The third time was indeed the charm for Sonora senior Evan Shannon, who took home his first ever state gold medal with a win in the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:26.69.
It didn't come easy for Shannon, who got funneled to the back at the start of the race. That did nothing to deter the University of the Incarnate Word signee and made the win that much more special.
"It's super special. It's something I've worked my whole life for," Shannon said. "To win, especially in a race like that where it's more strategy than anything, it's something I'll never forget. Exactly how I wanted to end my senior year for sure."
After getting pushed to the back, Shannon felt comfortable -- it was nowhere near as bad as getting knocked to the track during the second lap like his sophomore year.
"This being my third race (at state), I knew, 'hey, just don't panic'" Shannon said. "Just stay up with everybody and I'll see my chance to comeback whenever it presents itself. I feel like the experience I have allowed me to see that opportunity and then capitalize on it."
Shannon would make his move entering the third lap of the race and blow by his competition. The next closest runner was Atlanta's Dagen Ward, who ran a 4:29.29.
Reagan County's Reyes and Brady's Marshall Sprint to Podium
Reagan County senior Jayslyn Reyes and Brady junior Jack Marshall used their speed to get on the podium in three of the six sprint races in Class 3A.
"It pushes me. So, it's really exciting. I run my best when I have competition," Reyes said.
After not placing in either event last year, Reyes was waiting for the moment to come where her name would be called on the podium.
"This year was a big deal to me because the last two years, I didn't place," Reyes said. "So, to go out my senior year with two medals is a great accomplishment and I'm really proud of myself."
Despite it not being gold, Marshall will still (eventually) cherish his first state medal like it was gold.
"I felt like I had it in the bag, but I got too tight at the end and lost my form and got sucked up," Marshall lamented. "But, it is what it is. I'd rather be on the medal stand than walking to my coaches with nothing to show for it. It's pretty exciting. It'll probably be more exciting later because it kinda hurts a little bit."
The UIL state track meet will continue on Saturday with classes 2A, 4A and 6A.
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