Despite the national opinions of Texas high school distance running we all know that the Texas programs and athletes are some of the very best and and fastest around.
This weekend, that talent was on display.
Many of the top distance programs across the state came to compete and display just how much work they've been putting in for the season. As always, there were a couple of out of state teams to come down and compete as well.
In the girls DMR, it was truly a battle of the various distances. The 1200m leg, which isn't ran or specifically trained for often requires both speed and endurance. However, that is where you will see the deeper distance squads set the tone.
At the first exchange, Katy, Katy Cinco Ranch, and Austin Westlake were the top three teams with Plano and Keller in range.
The 400m, and the 800m legs are where the teams that are capable to apply sprinters and fast half milers can make a difference in the races.
Photo by Shelton Jolivette
The Katy and Cinco Ranch squads were able to continue to hold their lead and Plano was in a close third. That is where things would change. Not every one can be fortunate to have elite half milers. Usually, having solid 2:20 type 800m leg is enough to be effective. However, when Keller and Plano can put runners with 2:10 range, that becomes a big weapon and a huge difference make that even 2:17 type splits can't do anything about.
Those Plano and Keller elite half milers proved to be the difference maker heading into the anchor leg as the two pulled away from the rest of the field.
The strength of Texas distance showed on the 1600m anchor leg. Usually, 5:10 type anchor legs are considered solid and efficient. However, on Friday night the girls were rolling. Eventual winner Plano, got a 4:57.36 anchor from Ashlyn Hillyard. Keller, Hebron, and Conroe Oak Ridge all got 5:01 and 5:02 splits from their anchor to run their teams all in the top ten. It was Katy Cinco Ranch's Heidi Nielson who was just about an hour and a half or so off a 4:53 open 1600m earlier in the afternoon who would double back to throw in a mad woman type come from behind 4:55 anchor leg. That would bring her Cinco Ranch team back from the chase pack to a second place finish.
In the boys DMR, It was much of the same situation. Edmonton Memorial (OK) would take the win in a very swift 10:17.42. That was ahead of some Texas teams that might surprise you.
Austin Lake Travis might not be known as one of the most dominant distance programs that come to mind, but they definitely can run a heck of a DMR. With solid splits across the board, they challenged Edmonton Memorial for the lead.
Austin St. Stephens also flexed their muscles as they were a part of the mad dash for the Texas Relays DMR title.
Photo by Shelton Jolivette
After the 1200m leg where a lot of teams ran solid times for a close first leg, the 400m transition put everything in a clearer aspect. The 800m leg was pretty much even across the board with a few placement changes. Plano West was probably the only team to make a drastic improvement on the third leg.
It was the 1600m leg that would make or break everything. The sub 4:20 splits would be the difference maker on the evening. Edmonton Memorial got a 4:13.19 to move up from third place to the win. Lake Travis had Brendan Hebert who blazed a 4:14.15 anchor to move up from eighth place all of the way to the runner-up finish. St Stephens who also had a solid race got a second big time 1600m of the day from their anchor leg Crayton Carrozza. Carrozza had just ran 4:11 about an hour and a half earlier in the open 1600m. He was able to get enough rest to double back and split 4:15.52 to move up from fourth to third place and on the award stand.
photo by Shelton Jolivette
In one of the best events in track an field, the 4x800 provided tons of excitement on Saturday afternoon.
The girls race saw an exciting race as the distance teams would once again flex their muscles on the track. Once again it was Katy that got an outstanding start. The defending Texas Relays 4x800 champions got a good start as their lead off leg started them of with the lead with a 2:16.97.
However, Austin Westlake and Flower Mound weren't too far behind. Westlake would get strong second and third legs that would catapult them into the lead heading in to the anchor leg.
Katy and Flower Mound got enough form second and third legs to stay in contention and to keep contact with Westlake as much as possible. As with all good races, it all came down the the anchor leg. Katy senior Brooke Lomax was close enough and in prime condition to go for a push for the win.
photo by Shelton Jolivette
She indeed took that opportunity as she overtook the Westlake anchor and charged to the finish. However, the only thing that she did not know is that Flower Mound anchor leg Laura Fairchild was on the hunt herself. Fairchild watched Katy and Westlake from just three second behind. Flower Mound was running with confidence after Anastaysia Davis ran 4:58.19 in the 1600m the day before and Fairchild ran a 10:45.92 for third place in the 3200m earlier in the day. Fairchild would pull up and out run the other two anchor legs as she powered to the finish with a 2:14.42 split to give her Flower Mound team a one second win in 9:22.41.
On the boys side, it was the Richmond Foster show. However, it took a leg or two for them to facilitate a lead. Cole Wilschetz would battle the always tough lead off leg to run 1:59.24 to give his Plano West the lead just steps ahead of DeSoto.
Foster would get a big time second leg from Collin Williams as he would drop a big time 1:56.75 split to push Foster in second place behind St. Anthony's (NY) at the exchange. A 1:58.61 split would push them into first and a 1:55.21 from 800m stud Christopher Wise would seal the deal and reward the positioning his teammates would put him in.