Stars Shine at Cougar Relays

Photo of Taylor Nunez

Eight-time State champion Taylor Nunez never fails to impress, but on Saturday she was not the only San Antonio area track athlete who shined bright at the Canyon Cougar Relays. Overall, MileSplit characterized 33 performances as Silver Standard and 10 of those would also be considered Gold Standard. Even with a number of athletes at the indoor national meet or other events it was still an outstanding meet.

Despite the chilly conditions, athletes were able to take advantage of a North wind that meant the sprint events would be run with the wind rather than against the wind like what happens in many meets in South Texas. The girls 100m featured Randolph's Nunez winning in 11.64 with Brandeis freshman London Graham in second in 11.77 and Seguin's Daisha Shular was third in 11.89. Each of those three results would be good enough to win nearly any meet. In the 200m, Nunez and Graham went head-to-head again with Graham holding the lead around the curve, but Nunez gradually ran her down and won in 23.49 with Graham right behind in 23.69.

On the boy's side of the meet the Seguin 4x100m relay team of Kayden Holz, Nik Henry, Elliot Weaver and Ocean Moreno shined brightest as they ran a Gold Standard time of 41.63. Henry was also the 100m champion in a time of 10.67, steps ahead of Reagan's William Calk and Cole Pryor who each run under 10.80.

The 12-team meet was tightly contested on the girl's side with Johnson emerging as meet champions with 94 points while Smithson Valley had 83 points and Brandeis had 81. Randolph, Judson and Reagan each scored in the 70's. The Reagan boys were also meet champions with 140.17 points, well ahead of second place Smithson Valley who had 82.17 and Johnson who finished with 75 points.

The Johnson girls got the meet started the right way in the 3200m when their freshman, Isabella Porter and Emily Krot, finished first and third, respectively. Porter took the lead right from the start and then Krot battled her over laps 5 and 6 before Porter took control and won in 11:26.31. Randolph's Aubrey Milam stayed close throughout the race and took second in a time of 11:26.83 while Krot took third. In the 1600m, Milam came out on top with a time of 5:16.32. She sat behind Avery Frank of St. Dominic Savio for nearly the entire race and raced past her at the end. Krot hung on for her second bronze medal of the meet with a personal best time of 5:18.85.

In the 4x100m relay, it was Reagan and Smithson Valley in a two-team race that was won by the Rattlers in 47.54 while SV crossed in 47.81. Johnson finished third, nearly a second behind Smithson Valley.

The half mile followed with a fun race. St. Dominic Savio's Zya Gibbs pushed the pace early and held the lead until the final curve when Smithson Valley's Mia Perez passed her en route to a 2:16.06 winning time. Gibbs posted a big season best of 2:18.13 and Frank was third in 2:21.12.

Judson showed it strength in the two hurdle events. In the 100mH, Jolene Martinez took first in 15.50 and teammate Maria Flores was second in 15.50. Meanwhile, Ava Madere of Johnson took third from Lane 1 with a time of 16.55. In the 300mH, Martinez and Flores switched spots with Flores winning in 46.16 and Martinez crossed in 46.91. Reagan's Isabella Gaylord nabbed third place despite not running in the fast heat.

After the stellar 100m race, it was Brandeis winning the 4x200m relay in 1:42.81 while Johnson picked up big points with their runner-up finish. The 400m had four girls breaking 60 seconds and it was Smithson Valley's Jazmyn Singh winning in a comfortable 56.16. Claire Cook of St. Dominic Savio edged out Randolph's Jaela Smith for second in a time of 58.44.

The 200m featured Nunez and Graham out front but three others broke 25 seconds; Leila Smith-Harris of Brandeis (24.74), Nnenna Opara of Reagan (24.76) and Nia Thompson of St. Dominic Savio (24.80).

The final track event was outstanding with Brandeis winning the 4x400m in 3:55.57 while Randolph was second in 3:57.61 and Smithson Valley was third in 3:58.38. Graham was able to hold off both Nunez and Singh on the final lap running approximately 54.9 on her leg.

In the throwing events, it was Reagan's Mariana Salazar who won the shot put with a toss of 34-6 while Johnson picked up the next two places behind Jera Salters (32-5.75) and Jaedyn McNeill (32-1). Salters added another third place in the discus as she finished behind Canyon's Peyton Wilson (118-5) and Edinburg Vela's Evalyn Pena (116-8).

The pole vault was difficult with a cross-wind to deal with but Smithson Valley's Ella Pickron was able to handle it and cleared 11-6 to win. Taylor Fuentespina of Johnson and SV's Sofia Mitschke each cleared 11-0 for the next two spots.

The high jump was won by Reagan's Aryiel Sherman who was perfect through 5-4 before bowing out at the 5-6 bar. Seguin's Leah Brown was the only other athlete to clear 5-2 while Mireya Ruiz of Brandeis took third with a 5-0 clearance thanks to fewer misses. Brown took gold in the triple jump with a big jump of 37-8.25. SV's Avianna Miller and Johnson's Pinkey Karngbaye took the next two spots with jumps over 35-feet.

Nunez also won the long jump with a leap of 19-8.75 while Alaina Fugate of New Braunfels edged out Shular by a half inch for second with her jump of 16-9.

The Reagan boys got the meet off to a good start in the 3200m. Gavin Chapa dominated the race from start to finish and posted a winning time of 9:29.64, his first 2-mile of the season. His teammate, Luke Munoz, finished third in a time of 9:48.34 while Johnson's Michael Repper-Molina posted a big personal best to take second in 9:40.10. The Rattlers picked up 16 more points in the 4x100m finishing in second place behind Seguin with a time of 42.13 while Smithson Valley was third in 42.52.

The 800m was a fabulous race that featured three different leaders in the final 300m. Johnson's Alexander Williams made a late sprint to the finish to edge out Reagan's Bryce Williams and Brandeis' Brian Sorrell in a photo finish. The winning time was 2:00.00 while second place was 2:00.06 and third was 2:00.22.

In the hurdles, Reagan's Derek Davisson appears to be back in form after an early season injury. He won the 110mH in 15.09 as he held off Harlingen South's Shyam Duran (15.16) and Caiden Rodriguez of Brandeis (15.26). Davisson added a bronze in the 300mH while Rodriguez moved up to second place. Canyon's Luke Bell had some redemption in the 300mH with a time of 39.85 to win. He had false-started in the 110mH.

The 4x200m relay featured a bit of an upset with Randolph and Smithson Valley taking the top two spots despite New Braunfels, Reagan and Seguin all entering the meet with better times. Randolph's quartet of Austin Young, Braylen Brown, Lee McMooain and Aaron Davis won in 1:28.71 while SV crossed the tape in 1:29.25. Brown followed up the 4x200m with a nice second place finish in the 400m. He ran a time of 51.09 while Jakob Gilbreth of New Braunfels won in 50.49 and SV's Gavin Kantorak was third in 51.27. Davis won his heat of the 200m in 22.29 and finished third behind Pryor (21.96) and Moreno (22.04).

Repper-Molina finished off his big day with a win in the 1600m posting a time of 4:28.20. Munoz earned his second medal for Reagan by running 4:32.24 and Bradyn Youngdahl of Smithson Valley was third in 4:34.05.

The Smithson Valley 4x400m team also came through in a big way. Kantorak ran the anchor leg and was able to pass Reagan for the win in 3:28.36. Brody Day put Kantorak in position for the win with a great third leg. Reagan ran a time of 3:30.16 while New Braunfels was third in 3:32.22.

In the throwing events, it was New Braunfels Christian Academy's Cannen Kyle who had the best day. He won the shot put with a throw of 55-2.75 and finished second in the discus with a mark of 148-9. Vela's Kristopher Perez (51-10) and Ronnie Ramirez (48-4.75) finished second and third, respectively in the shot put. Reagan's Ryan Ramirez took top honors in the discus with a throw of 151-11 and Smithson Valley's Dylan Gass was third with a throw of 148-7.

The boy's pole vault was extra windy and it bore out in the results as five vaulters entered the competition with clearances of at least 14-feet but no one hit that on Saturday. Day, Boone Partee of New Braunfels and Thomas Bucks of Johnson all cleared 13-6 and it was Day taking the win due to fewer misses.

Tapiwa Hananda of Canyon solidified his spot as one of the top high jumpers in the area with a winning clearance of 6-4. His teammate, Mason Wright, was the only other jumper to clear 6-0 and took second.

Austin Young took gold medals in the long jump and triple jump in close competitions. He won the triple jump with a leap of 42-2, one inch ahead of Johnson's Cameron McDuffie. Kevin Lingueno of Seguin was third with a jump of 41-7. In the long jump, Young tied New Braunfels' Cole Tavarez with a best mark of 21-6 but won on the tie-breaker. Reagan's Ian Armstrong was third with a jump of 21-2.