|Four SSHS athletes advance after meet's first day|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
April 15, 2004 -- GREENVILLE -- Four Sulphur Springs athletes jumped, threw and vaulted their way there to the regional track and field meet, qualifying on the first day of the District 11-4A meet on Wednesday.
The first day saw three field events and one race (3,200 meters) in both the boys and girls divisions. The Wildcats and Lady Cats came through as well as expected.
Led by a 1-2-3 finish in the pole vault and a 2-3 outcome in the shot put, the Wildcats held the team lead after the abbreviated first day of events. The remainder of the field events and the running finals are scheduled to be completed today at T.A. "Cotton" Ford Stadium in Greenville.
The Wildcats are expected to send several more runners to regional after today's finals.
Sophomore Jayden Spencer matched his personal best with a vault of 13-0 to win the pole vault, with teammates Zack Wilhite coming in second at 12-0, and Patrick Radney in third at 10-0. The top two finishers in each event advance to the regional meet.
In the shot put, senior Jordan Jones matched his personal best with a throw of 52-6 to take second place and classmate Clint Payne was third at 47-3.
Coach Robert Wallace said those two events were key in the Wildcats accumulating 44 points. Denison is second at 29, while defending district champ and top challenger Greenville is fifth with 12 points but poised to make a dramatic leap up the leaderboard today.
"The shot putters and pole vaulters coming through for us was big," Wallace said. "The pole vault was 24 points for us. We thought we'd get first and second, and then Radney got third, which was great.
"We figured the guy from Sherman (Noble Polk) would win the shot put, which he did, but Jordan threw his best and got second, and Payne stepped up and got third. Now, we need Keelan and Kendall and those guys to step up for us."
He's talking about Keelan Green and Kendall Wright, who are both in prime position to nab a regional qualifying berth in their specialty events.
Green had the top qualifying marks in both the 100 and 200, racing to a 10.22-hand held time in the 100 and 21.49 in the 200. Greenville's Bradley Reed, with the state's fastest time this year, finished with the second-best time in both races but let up noticeably before the finish line.
Wright, who placed third in the long jump with a 21-2 mark, had the best qualifying time in the 300 hurdles at 39.l2, and the third-best mark in the 110-highs after hitting the fourth hurdle hard.
Paul Hitt also qualified in both hurdle races, and Kory Koon made the finals in the intermediate hurdles.
John Hall qualified in the 100 and Jermaine Wright will join Green in the 200.
Still, Greenville is lurking behind the Wildcats. The Lions had three runners qualifying for the finals in the 100, 200, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles and two more in the 400-meter dash. Greenville also is top-rated in all three relays.
"We need guys like John Hall and Paul Hitt and our 800 guys (Graham Northcutt, Ty Stephens) to step up for us. The relays are big for us today," Wallace said. "We need to get a point here and a point there. Every little thing helps because we know Greenville's going to make a big push, especially in the sprints and relays.
"The guys are confident, fired up and ready. After yesterday, Keelan felt real good. He's run as fast as he's needed to, but I don't think we know what his top speed is."
Senior Sara Barrett has been to the regional meet the previous two years, but she had never jumped as high as she did Wednesday in placing second.
Barrett cleared 5-8, her personal best by three inches, before missing her three attempts at 5-10. The winner, Julianne Kennedy of Sherman, also missed her 5-10 attempts, but won the gold because of fewer misses at previous heights.
"Sara is really peaking," said coach Carin Hoffman. "She missed twice at 5-6, but made her third jump, then cleared 5-8. She really had a good chance to clear 5-10. She went out there to win this today."
Freshman Kristen McDonald cleared 5-0 to take fourth place.
In the 3,200, Emily Bouyear placed fifth with a time of 14:04.73.
In the boys division, Sulphur Springs again dominated the pole vault as Patrick Whitehead jumped 10-6 to win the event and Bryan Ballard went 10-0 to place second.
In the long jump, Robert Finnie took third with a leap of 18-7, and Bryan Clayton was sixth at 17-11.
In the girls division, freshman Jill Wood and sophomore Makenzie Kelty took first and second in the 3,200-meter run. Wood clocked a 14:24.78, while Kelty came in at 14:46.96.
Chelsea Stovall won the triple jump with a leap of 30-5. Sophomore Kelli Osborn placed second in the high jump at 4-8, and Kaila Petty was third in the discus with a throw of 71-9.