What We'll Miss At State: Ft Bend Marshall/Lancaster Battles

Lancaster and Marshall won the first and second place team trophies at the 2019 UIL 5A state meet for both the girls and the boys. The 2020 season could have been a repeat, but the orders could have changed

When the 2019 UIL Boys 5A state meet was over, the team championship trophy once again went back to Fort Bend Marshall High School. The second place trophy went to Lancaster High School capping off yet another year these two programs have squared off to compete for the state title.

Last year, the Girls 5A championship came down to the same two schools. The Lancaster girls tallied 60 points for the state championship with Marshall only eight points behind with 52.

This season was shaping up to be another showdown between the two schools for both the girls and boys titles.

This weekend, the Fort Bend Marshall boys would have been looking to win their third consecutive state title. They returned several key pieces from last year's winning squad as well as moved up some potential point scoring athletes.

Senior Bryson Stubblefield was the top 100m returner in the 5A boys as he finished third last year and Devon Achane returned after winning last year's 200m title. The Buffalos also returned the majority of their 4x100, 4x200 state championship relays and they had aspirations of completing a relay sweep as they did last year by winning the 4x400 relay again.

To go along with their experienced returners, Marshall moved up several runners from the JV level like Garrett Wilkins in the 100m and 200m, Cedric Jenkins in the 400m, Chris Brinkley in the 100H and 300H, and Devon Beckles in the 800m. All of those guys looked to have the chance to score points at state.

Getting second place at the state meet is quite the accomplishment and one many would be elated with. However, Lancaster isn't a place where second place equates to elation; like at Marshall, Lancaster has an expectation to win every year and that didn't happen last year.

Even though Lancaster hasn't won the boys state title in a while, they are always lurking just like in 2019. This 2020 season was the year the lurking was possibly going to move up to winning. This could have been the biggest and best Lancaster challenge for a very talented Marshall group. 

The Tiger's attack would have been coming from all over the board. They were being led by their 2019 400m state champion, senior Dillon Bedell. Bedell was in top form and looked to be ready to repeat his 2019 win, but he also had a lot of help mounting up. The Lancaster relays looked to be in prime shape and ahead of schedule of even their head coach's expectations. Scoring big relay points would be crucial to keeping up with or beating Marshall.

Individually, Demarion Smith in the 300H and High Jump, Dequalen James in the 100m, Javon Davis in the 110H, and Kobe Milligan looked like they were going to be able to add points at the state meet. The field was going to be huge for Lancaster and possibly the make or break in them coming out with a win or not. Smith could possibly get to state in the High Jump and Latrell Caples could possibly score big in the Long Jump. A big boy combo of Desmond Frazier and Mark Cannon was tearing it up this seasons in the Shot Put and could have brought big points to Lancaster this weekend.

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There was going to be a lot more black uniform combos dominating the 5A track meet; some with orange and some with gold. The Lady Tigers were going to have several entries at the state meet as were the Lady Buffalos.

The Lancaster girls would have been trying to defend their state title and Marshall would have been looking to improve from last year's runner-up.

When you think of the Lancaster girls, the first thing to come to mind should be speed. Last year, they won both the 4x100 and 4x200 Relays; that accounted for 80% of their point scoring. The relays are a proven way to win a Texas state title, but Lancaster would have needed more this year with teams like Marshall and even Boerne Champion who looked like a big challenger.

The "more" looked to be coming in two ways. One of the two ways was in the form of Aysia Ward. Ward individually contributed a big 10 points last year. Her 200m win made her a favorite in returning, and she would have been looking to do it again. However, the Lancaster stud was primed to also add long jump points. Coming straight out of basketball post season play, Ward popped a huge 5A top ranked 19-5.25 long jump.

At their last meet, Lancaster looked like they would potentially be able to add point scoring in the 4x400 Relay. Ward teamed up with teammates Trelondra Strong, Jalyn Williams, and Nykeevia Ross to run 3:55 in the first week of March.

The Marshall girls fell eight points short last year of winning a state title. Would they be able to qualify enough to state and score enough in Austin to get the win this year?

Marshall was able to keep up in the scoring column with their relays. This year looked like they were going to be able to do the same in the 4x100 and 4x200 Relays and possibly more in those events. Their strength last year came in the 4x400 Relay, in which they were able to win and add 20 points.

The Lady Buffalos added eight points last year with a 55.69 from then freshman Cesley Williams. They could potentially put seniors Alexandria Ruth or Jailynn Smith in the 400m as well if it wouldn't jeopardize the 4x200 Relay. Ruth was leading the 5A girls in the 400m this year and Williams was ranked fourth in 5A. 

Marshall potentially had point scorers in the Discus with Amira Chatman, Skylar Faux in the Shot Put, Theresa Green-White in the 100m, and Tairah Johnson in both hurdles.

The 2020 season has been declared a wash thanks to COVID-19, but an Austin battle between these two schools could have been a classic and  must see match up for both the girls and boys.

The coaching staffs of these teams will surely keep their teams in future conversations for state titles, but all four teams will lose key opportunities. Both Lancaster and Marshall will graduate some of this year's top girls and boys track and field athletes. Track and field fans will miss an opportunity by not seeing a good old fashioned Dallas/Houston track and field match up.