AUSTIN – Everett Wilder is an Eagle Scout, a licensed pilot and the salutatorian of his Sulphur Bluff graduating class this year. Friday morning, he added another star to his resume – state track medalist.
Wilder, in a return trip to the UIL State Track and Field Meet in the 3,200-meter run, steadily crept up from the back of the pack to take third place, matching the best time of his career.
Wilder, who placed sixth in the event last year, immediately fell to the back of the pack at the start of the eight-lap race, but moved up to fourth with three laps to go, then briefly took the lead on the next-to-last lap before Jonathan Lira of Plains moved past him and went on to win the event in a time of 9 minutes, 57.88 seconds. Kopperl’s Logan Mynar took second in 10:01.10 with a strong kick, and Wilder followed in 10:04.05.
That matches the best time of his career, which he ran in early April.
Wilder ran in either seventh or eighth place through the first three laps, then moved into sixth on the fourth lap, finishing the first mile in 5:09, about two seconds behind Lira, the leader. The group tightened on the fifth lap, which Wilder ran in 78 seconds, then he moved into fourth on lap No., 6, which he ran in 77 seconds.
Wilder then shot to the front of the pack for the seventh lap, turning it in 72 seconds. Lira passed him to start the final lap, which Wilder finished in 68 seconds.
Sulphur Bluff coach Charles Wright said Wilder ran a strategic race that put him in position to medal.
“He ran smart today and ran comfortable,” Wright explained. “We were trying to hit negative splits, and we got it. His first mile was 5:09, and his second mile was below 5:00. We wanted him to be in position at the end of the sixth lap, and if you’re there at that time, the race doesn’t change a whole lot other than a kick. He pushed the pace on the seventh lap to try to run the kick out of those other guys, because kicking is not his strong point.
“We’re extremely proud of him. He’s worked harder than just about any kid I’ve ever had.”
Wilder ran a 10:15 at regional, which was the fifth-best qualifying time. Last year at the state meet, he finished in 10:40. This year, he had a plan that worked.
“I planned to push it the last two laps, but at that point, I also felt good,” he said of his move from fourth to first late in the race. “The pace was a little slow at the point, so I just tried to push it harder.
“Generally, I front run in a slow race. But in a race like this, I was hoping the front runners would burn themselves out. I was wanting to place first, but it’s pretty special to go home with a medal.”
The Sulphur Bluff senior will vie for another state medal Saturday afternoon when he competes in the 1,600-meter championship. Before that happens, though, he will partake in graduation ceremonies at the Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Austin since he is missing Sulphur Bluff’s graduation this weekend.
The state meet conflicts with graduation because the end of the track and field season was delayed three weeks due to swine flu concerns. It turned out, the elongated season worked in Wilder’s favor.
He became sick in the middle of April, but was able to recover with enough time.
“At first I thought the long season was going to hurt him, but he ended up getting sick there in the middle of April, so it ended up helping us out,” Wright said. “My fear was that he would be tired and get fatigued, but it didn’t happen that way. We’re extremely proud of him.”
NOTE - Como-Pickton’s Deanna Garrett will compete today in the pole vault. See coverage on her event and Wilder’s 1,600-meter run in Sunday and Monday’s papers.
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