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April 27, 2014

CLASS 4A REGION III TRACK AND FIELD — Huntsville sends one senior to state meet, underclassmen look forward to improving

HUNTSVILLE — For the Huntsville track and field athletes at the Class 4A Region III meet this weekend, a highly successful season ended.

Huntsville qualified in 11 events to make it to regional competition, six of which they participated in Saturday’s finals.

The Hornets and Lady Hornets ran their last races and made their final jumps of the season.

“Everybody has done so well. All season, as a team and as individuals, we’ve gotten better,” said senior Rickeyshia Barnes, who placed seventh in the 400-meter dash with a time of 58.74. “Everyone’s times have been improving and it’s just been great.”

At the end, Huntsville sends one of its pole vaulters to the UIL Track and Field State Meet on May 9, boys second-place finisher Audie Wyatt, who cleared 16 feet, 6 inches on Friday.

Lady Hornets junior Marissa Dixon, who took the bronze medal Saturday with a height of 11 feet, 3 inches, fell short of an at-large spot, which would have taken the best posting of non-automatic qualifiers among the four regions.

Clearing 11-3 was a personal record for Dixon.

“I feel like I did really well,” she said. “A lot of meets I normally scratch at every height but I’ve been getting more consistent and I like that. I think there were just a lot of nerves at 11 feet because I know the third-best out of all the regions gets to go to state and there were four of us still in.

“So it was the fact of me getting third or not getting third and having a chance. Then I got to 11-3 and it was just me wanting to set a personal record.”

Sophomore Sydney Beverly placed seventh in the pole vault, clearing 10 feet before getting hung up on 10-6. Beverly was shaken after missing her third attempt, but said she’s optimistic about the next two seasons given how well she performed as a sophomore.

Barbers Hill’s Emily Gunderson stole the show at the pole vault, setting a new personal record of 13 feet, 3 inches, the seventh-highest vault in the country.

Ali Uhle of Tomball cleared 12 feet to take the silver medal, just ahead of Dixon.

“I think this is one of the elite regions in 4A. I don’t really know, but Emily and Ali are clearing 12 feet and over,” Dixon said.

Hornets junior and District 18-4A high jump champion Isaiah Pittman finished fourth at the region meet with a height of 6 feet, 4 inches. It topped his 6-2 clip that won the district title more than two weeks ago.

Pittman also set a personal record in the triple jump with a leap of 44-5, good for another fourth-place finish. The junior battled an ankle injury the entire track season following his first-team all-district basketball season.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Pittman said. “Just to come out here and do better than I did last year, it’s a great goal to reach. We’re going to state next year.”

Garrett Cragin of Friendswood was the star of the high jump. Only a month into his high jumping career, Cragin won gold with a jump of 7 feet. Beaumont Central’s Andrew Wells finished in second place at 6-9 and Ashish Marediya of Nederland placed third at 6-8.

In the Lady Hornets lone relay event, the 4-by-100 meter relay, Huntsville placed seventh with a time of 48.99. Texas City took the top spot at 46.56, Pearland Dawson placed second (47.29) and Fort Bend Marshall finished in third place (47.99).

Huntsville’s relay girls are all underclassmen, three sophomores and a freshman. Head coach Kathy Lehman expects them to be around for a while.

“We know where we need to be to get better,” Lehman said. “I’ve told the girls, if we work harder in practices and practice the way we want to compete, we have the ability here. There’s more work to do but I’m proud of them.”

Freshman Blake Thomason ran the fourth leg in the 4-by-100 roughly 20 minutes before running in the 800 meters, which she placed 13th with a time of 2:27.  

“Overall, we did really well. We got our fastest time,” said Thomason of the relay event. “That’s good for us. It’s all a work in progress. We’re not where we need to be yet, but we’ll get there.”

As a senior, Barnes said she put all of her pride into the 400 meters. Running in the No. 8 lane, she held the lead briefly until Summer Creek’s Bryanah Rideaux and Willis’ Teona Spivey turned on the jets.

Barnes made a late a push to finish seventh out of eight. She knew it was the last run of her high school career.

“I was pushing myself to the max,” Barnes said.

“I didn’t want to get last. It meant a lot to be in this position because it’s my senior year so I’m just glad to go out with a bang.”

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