Inside the Decade: 2011-2020
For nostalgia buffs like myself, one thing that will mark this decade is how it ended: with a pandemic that cut short the dreams of thousands of Texas track & field athletes.
Up through Spring Break, marvelous performances in all events foretold spectacular state performances in at least the three major Texas conferences (SPC, TAPPS and UIL) if not some of the minor. And then shelter-in-place orders trickled down from the federal government to the state and local governments, and track & field -- like the rest of the world -- stayed home.
This will always leave speculation as to how many Top 5 marks and times could have been achieved to leave their permanent impression upon an unparalleled decade in Texas track & field. Let's explore the Boy's category first:
- UIL's Fort Bend Marshall led the way with four team titles in the last five years, and they displayed relays dominance admired by the entire nation. They were always a threat to unseat the top place, especially in the 4x1 and the 4x2.
- In TAPPS, Argyle Liberty Christian and Midland Christian each recorded five state titles.
- In SPC, St. John's, winners of the last three out of four, tied with Episcopal School of Houston with three each.
- Matthew Boling from Houston Strake Jesuit finished the decade #1 in three individual categories: 100, 200 and long jump. He also anchored Strake's 4x400 to an unforgettable relay victory at the state meet, claiming the #1 spot for the decade.
- 2017, for no known reason, leads the decade with the most marks and times achieved.
- 33 marks and times, at the close of the decade, etched themselves into the record books -- Top 5 Texas all-time.
- The Woodlands' 4x200 stands atop the national leaderboard.
- Among the many future NCAA standouts emerged three Olympians: Bradley Adkins (high jump), Shawn Barber (pole vault -- Canada) and Jarrion Lawson (triple jump) and a plethora of collegiate football talent, among them Sachse's Devin Duvernay, the 92nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Virtual Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.
- It's hard not to speculate future Olympic potential: Matthew Boling? Will London? Adrian Piperi? Bryce Hoppel?
- When you look within often paired categories, it's not uncommon to see names in both categories like Abraham Hall or Kalon Barnes in both the 100 and 200 or Reed Brown and Craig Nowak in both the 1600 and 3200 or Charles Brockman III in both hurdle events or Jarrion Lawson in both horizontals and Piperi and Gabriel Oladipo in both throws.
- Sam Worley has etched his name into the 800, 1600 and 3200.
- This decade saw a re-emergence in the throws with Piperi and Oladipo both eclipsing 70' in the shot put and Oladipo tying Brian Robison's all-time Texas mark at 215-02.
- The 3200 and the 4x200 witnessed four of the top 5 all-time times in Texas history.
The decade for the girls was also filled with brilliant performances.
- Two teams dominated their respective conferences with seven team titles. In UIL, DeSoto not only dominated the conference, but they also dominated the relays. They stand atop all three relays, and the 4x100 time of 44.24 is a national record.
- In TAPPS, Shiner St. Paul also collected seven team titles.
- In SPC, the Greenhill girls brought home three state titles.
- Like the boys, three Olympians emerged from the plethora of collegiate talent: Courtney Okolo, Jennifer Madu (Nigeria) and Shelbi Vaughan.
- Who might emerge as a future Olympian? Jasmine Moore? Sha'Carri Richardson? Raevyn Rogers? Brynn Brown? Tonea Marshall and Alexis Duncan?
- 2018 proved the year of the most times and marks.
- 47 times and marks made their way into Texas' all-time Top 5, including Shelbi Vaughan's national-leading discus.
- The 800 and Pole Vault all had their times and marks make it into the Texas all-time Top 5.
- Kynnedy Flannel finds herself in the 100, 200 and long jump.
- Dynasty McClennon runs her way into both the 200 and 400, while Julia Heymach sits entrenched in the 800, 1600 and 3200.
Jasmine Moore's marks earn her entry into both the long and triple jumps, while Shelbi Vaughan is the only thrower to enter both the shot and discus.