The Right Track: Wildcats lead 11-4A track and field meet after field events

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

April 8, 2008 - MOUNT PLEASANT - The first day of the District 11-4A track and field meet didn't pan out exactly as expected, but the Sulphur Springs Wildcats are pleased with how it went.

The Wildcats qualified six athletes to the regional track and field meet after the first day and appear poised to challenge defending champion Texas High for the 11-4A title.

The SSHS Lady Cats had one regional qualifier after the field events and the running of the 3,200 meters.

The meet will continue at Mount Pleasant's Sam Parker Field at 6 p.m. Wednesday, if weather allows, with the running finals.

Boys

The Wildcats totaled 67 points after the first day to lead Texas High by one point.

"It was a good overall day," said SSHS head coach Jeff Riordan. "They're loaded in the finals and we're loaded in the finals. We're going to score some big points, and it's going to come down to the wire for the district championship."

The Wildcats racked up points in every field event and once again dominated the 3,200-meter run to take the overall lead.

Senior Tate Ramirez, running only his second two-mile race of the season, won the 3,200 in a time of 10 minutes, 22 seconds, and was followed by teammates Tyler Wilson in third and Ross Hicks in fourth.

Ramirez, who is also expected to win the mile, a race in which he has one of the top times in the region. If he does advance in the 1,600, then he will likely not run the 3,200 at regional, so Hicks will advance as an alternate.

Ramirez was the only gold medal winner for the Wildcats on the first day, but SSHS had three silver medalists - and two of them were unexpected, pleasant surprises from sophomores.

Bryant "Day Day" Jackson was expected to advance in the triple jump - which he did with a third-place effort of 43 feet, 10 1/4 inches. But, coaches didn't know if he could get in the top three in the long jump. He did that also, with a second-place effort of 21-3.

Classmate Garrett Ferguson also took second in the pole vault with a leap of 12-0, which was a foot-and-a-half higher than he had jumped before. Freshman Jarod Morgan was fifth in the event at 11-0, a career-best for him.

"Fergie's finish was probably the surprise of the meet for us," Riordan said. "We came out of the pole vault with 10 points and weren't expecting any.

"The biggest thing is the kids are competing. They're figuring out how to win, and it's meaning a lot to them."

The other second-place finish came from senior Rodney Evans in the shot put, whose throw of 48-5 will send him to the regional meet for the third consecutive year. Colton Nash and Andrew Burton were fourth and sixth, respectively, in the shot.

Senior Kaylon Page went 6-4 in the high jump, a personal best, to take third place behind two North Lamar jumpers who each went 6-6.

"Kaylon went through in the high jump, and that was huge," Riordan said. "It was a very good high jump competition for a district meet."

Senior Jamal Freeman was fourth in the discus and will be a regional alternate.

The Wildcats hope to keep their momentum going in the running finals, where they have at least two runners in every event.

Sophomore hurdler Shane McQueen had the Wildcats' top preliminary performance on Monday, running the 300 hurdles in a time of 38.8 seconds, which was not only the best in 11-4A, but is also one of the top times in the region. He, Page and Johnny McSheffery will all be in 300 finals. McQueen, McSheffery and Jackson are in the 110 hurdle finals as well, where Jackson and McQueen had the second-and third-best qualifying times.

In the 100, junior Ryan Young, who recently became eligible after transferring from Alba-Golden, ran an 11.01 and will be in the finals along with Lemarcus Kendricks. In the 200, Kendricks, Daqualin "Boo" Evans and Chris Thompson all made the finals.

In the 400, freshman Irvin Anderson had the third-best qualifying time and Jackson had the fifth-best.

Then, of course, the Wildcats will be loaded in the final two distance events, with Ramirez, Hicks and Dylan Rutherford in the 1,600, and Wilson, Rutherford and Anthony Mills in the 800.

The Wildcats also hope to place in the top three in all three relays. In fact, the district championship could come down to the final event: 4x400 relay composed of McQueen, Jackson, Mills and Anderson.

"When you get in the finals, you don't know what is going to happen on that day," Riordan said. "We're just trying to finish this thing out."

Girls

Senior Ana Sanchez was the Lady Cats' only regional qualifier, though they have several girls who will make a push on Wednesday.

Sanchez ran a time of 13:18 to place third in the 3,200 meters. Freshman Megan Massey moved from seventh to fourth in the last mile to finish in 13:25 and will be a regional alternate.

Both girls will be running other events on Wednesday - Sanchez in the 800 along with senior Kelsey Evans, and Massey in the 1,600, which is her best event.

Junior Delandria Pryor was fourth in the shot put and will also be a regional alternate.

Pryor made the finals in the 100-meter dash along with freshman Bradyn Burney, while junior Talea Reynolds will be in the 100 hurdle finals and junior Mackenzie Cross made the finals in the 300 hurdles in her first race of the year.

The JV girls, meanwhile, appear poised to win the district championship.

"We had a good day," said coach Matt Young. "Building a program, we were pleased with how we did. We have girls in the finals, and we're looking forward to seeing how our relays can do."

The junior varsity results for both girls and boys were not immediately available, though Sulphur Springs was leading both divisions.

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