|The Gold Standard
Casey earns two state medals with win in 1,600
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
May 17, 2004 -- AUSTIN -- Four years ago, North Hopkins' Mary Casey got to admire the gold medal won at the state track meet by Tracie Akerhielm, who she considers to be a big sister.
Saturday, Akerhielm returned the favor.
Casey took her position atop the medalist stand following the 1,600-meter run and was draped with a gold medal by Akerhielm, a senior track letterman at Texas Tech who still holds the Class 1A meet record she set in the event in 2000.
For Casey, it was her second gold medal in as many days. The senior multi-sport athlete also won the 3,200-meter run on Friday morning.
She started running when she moved in with the Akerhielm family years ago. She was a sophomore when Tracie won state in 2000.
"It's special," she said of having Akerhielm present her with the medal. "That's when I first started running, when I moved in with the Akerhielm family. She really inspired me a lot. I really look up to her."
Now, there will be another gold-medal winner for North Hopkins athletes to look up to.
Casey not only won the event, she set a personal record by doing it in 5 minutes, 25.11 seconds. Teammate Sabra Thomas, an NH freshman, was fifth in a personal-best time of 5:35.16.
Freshman Ebbonye Johnson earned a silver medal in the high jump, matching her career best with a leap of 5-2, and junior Kate Hollenshead placed sixth in the 800-meter run, improving by one place over last year's finish.
The highlight of the day, though, was clearly Casey's second gold medal. On a hot, humid day, she again ran the type of race she planned going into the meet.
Running from a waterfall start, she and Thomas were fifth and sixth after the first 100 meters of the four-lap race. They stayed in that position until Casey made a strong surge after clocking a 1:15 on the first lap. In a matter of 100 meters on the top curve, she went from fifth to first.
"They took off at the start," she said. "I couldn't keep up, they were going so fast. I was scared they would keep it up. I was trying to catch up with them."
Then at the 400-meter mark, she made her move as she felt the pace slacken slightly.
"They got a little slower, and I was trying to get up there before they got too far ahead, so they probably slowed a little bit and I was going faster," she explained.
Casey timed her next two laps in 1:20 and 1:28 as she pulled away. Her final lap was 1:22 as she came in two seconds ahead of second-place runner Heather Waygood of Sundown.
Thomas moved into fifth with about 700 meters to go, gained on the pack of runners in the 2-4 positions, but couldn't reel them all the way in. Her fifth-place time was 5:35.16.
"I'm happy for Sabra," Casey said of her teammate who also placed sixth in the 3,200. "She did great for a freshman."
Another freshman who found a place on the medal stand was Johnson, who edged out three other jumpers who also cleared 5-2. Johnson took second place because she did not have a miss until 5-4.
"I was kind of keeping up with everyone else, so I knew who had missed and who hadn't," she said. "I'm a little disappointed because coming in I was tied for first (in qualifying jumps). But, I'm only a freshman, so I'll be back."
At the regional meets, only Johnson and Elizabeth Mullins of Eden had cleared 5-2. Mullins went on to win the meet with a jump of 5-6.
Hollenshead also earned points for the Lady Panthers, who scored 32 overall to finish fifth in the team standings.
She came in sixth in the 800, moving up from seventh with about 120 meters to go. Her final time was 2:29.61.
At the 100-meter break, she was in seventh and stayed that way through the first lap, which she clocked in 1:11, about four seconds behind the leader.
Christany Reynolds of Forestburg, who was also the Class 1A cross country champion, won the race in a time of 2:18.22.
In the boys' side, North Hopkins senior William Johnson ran the fastest time of his career, but did not place in the 400-meter dash.
Johnson clocked a 51.80 in the one-lap race, but the top four runners all came in under 50 seconds. Running from Lane 2, Johnson made a strong push in the final 100 meters, but finished about a second out of earning one of the top six places.
Josh Jones of Irion County won the event in 49.61 seconds.
Girls High Jump
Girls 1,600-meter run
Boys 400-meter dash
Girls 800-meter run
Girls Teams -- 1. Granger 50, 2. Clarendon 48, 3. Muenster 42, 4. Burton 36, 5. North Hopkins 32.