Last Chances: Carrell, Northcutt in regional track finals today

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 28, 2007 - DENTON - It has, as expected, come down to Graham Northcutt and Kasie Carrell.

Those two runners will carry the Sulphur Springs' hopes of qualifying for the UIL State Track and Field Meet when they toe the line Saturday afternoon at the Class 4A, Region II meet on UNT's Fouts Field.

Carrell and Northcutt, the two SSHS close friends with the best chances of advancing to state, each will be trying to place in the top two in their respective events. Carrell will compete in the 800-meter dash today and Northcutt in the 1,600-meter run.

They each ran a race on Friday - Carrell was in the preliminaries of the 800 and Northcutt in the finals of the 3,200-meter run - and they each came away with a fifth-place time.

Carrell had the fifth-fastest preliminary time to qualify him for the finals of today's 800-meter dash. The finals will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Fouts Field.

He ran in the second of two heats in the event and finished in a time of 1 minute, 59.42 seconds. He came across the first lap in about 58 seconds.

Matt Walker of Nacogdoches had the fastest qualifying time of 1:56.33 and three other runners ran 1:57. The question now is whether those fast times will weigh on them today with less than 24 hours rest.

Carrell will also run in the 1,600, though his chances to advance are far better in the half-mile.

Northcutt also ran Friday and placed fifth in the 3,200-meter run in a time of 9:41.34.

It was about seven seconds off his fastest time of the year, but even had he matched his best time, Northcutt still would not have been able to climb onto the medal stand because three runners broke 9:30 in a very fast and competitive race.

Northcutt led through the first three laps in a time of 3:34, though the field was closely bunched. By the mile mark, which he crossed in 4:48, Northcutt was in third, but trailed the leaders by just a couple of strides.

He fell back to fifth on the fifth lap and couldn't move up after that.

The race was won by Mesquite Poteet's Ryan Lusk in a time of 9:27.01 as he out-leaned Frisco Centennial's Cole Reveal at the tape.

SSHS junior Tyler Wilson, running in his first regional event, finished in 10:59.75, but did not place. SSHS junior Tate Ramirez had qualified for the race but was unable to compete due to illness.

Northcutt will run again today in the metric mile, the race in which he has the best chance to advance.

Unlike the 3,200, where at least four of the runners had better qualifying times, Northcutt has the fastest regional qualifying time in the 1,600. He also has the state's sixth-fastest time, regardless of classification, with the 4:19.63 school record he ran a month ago.

However, he will be competing against some of the very same runners he faced in the 3,200.

Reveal and Lusk have both ran sub 4:30 miles, and McKinney North's Carson Penepacker, who ran one of the sub-two minute half-miles on Friday, is in the mix as well.

The top two from each event qualify for the state meet, set for May 11-12 at Mike Myers Stadium in Austin.

The Wildcats had several other athletes competing at the regional meet, but none made today's finals.

Junior shot putter Rodney Evans was the first to compete, but he scratched on two of his three attempts and did not place. The event was won by Red Oak's Michael Carter, the son of former Olympic medalist and NFL defensive lineman Michael Carter, with a throw of 57-6 1/2.

Senior sprinter Jeff Pitts competed in two events. He ran the 200-meter dash, finishing fifth in his heat in a time of 23.01 seconds, which did not qualify him for the finals.

He also ran the anchor leg on the 4x200-meter relay, which ran the best time of the season with a 1:30.5. Running along with Chris Thompson, Dequalin Evans and Clayton Vaughn, the foursome clocked the second-fastest time in school history, just 3/10ths of a second off the mark set in 2003.

Notes: After a limited first day of action, one 11-4A athlete punched a ticket to state: Lindale girls discus thrower Mariah Walker, who placed second with a throw of 127-2. She beat out district competitor Erica Anderson of North Lamar, who was third. ... Other district athletes who placed on the first day were Texas High's Josh Grigson, fifth in the high jump (6-4); Lindale's Caleb Stricklin and North Lamar Kory Lawson, fifth and sixth in the pole vault (13-0 for both); and Mount Pleasant's Kevin Cheatum, fifth in the triple jump (45-4 1/2).

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