TEMPLE — Laying on the Wildcat Stadium turf, Leonard Kim just wanted to kick his shoes off and relax.
And after the way he ran Thursday and Friday, he earned that much.
With a pair of silver-medal finishes in both the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs Thursday and Friday — finishing second only to senior Copperas Cove teammate Cameron Woodberry in both — Kim helped the Bulldawgs secure a third straight district championship at the District 8-5A track and field meet at Temple’s Wildcat Stadium.
“They don’t give distance enough credit sometimes, but I think we earned it today,” said Woodberry, who won the mile run Friday in 4 minutes, 28.57 seconds after breezing through the two-mile run Thursday in 9:45.13.
“I was just really excited, yesterday I died basically after I got done (in the 3,200), but after this one, I wanted to get my spikes off, but I couldn’t because they’re double-knotted,” said Kim, who finished the 1,600 in 4:36.57, 2 1/3 seconds ahead of third-place Scott McEwen of Harker Heights.
The Bulldawgs won the 8-5A title despite only taking home four gold medals, holding off upstart Shoemaker and three gold medals by senior sprinter Johnny Jefferson by a mere 14.5 points.
Of course, three of those gold-winning events — the 1,600, the 3,200 and the discus — also followed with silvers to account for 108 of Cove’s 123 total points.
“It’s a little hard (to believe), especially coming from the distance side of things, and everyone always counts distance out, but I think today the distance made a pretty big
difference when it came to the scores,” Woodberry said.
Along with Kim’s two silvers, combined with silver medals in the 400 and 800 relays and three third-place finishes in the 300 hurdles (Eric Martinez, 40 seconds), the 800 (George Lowe, 41.92) and shot put (Jalen Waters, 48-7½) that sealed it for Cove.
“It was vital, there’s no way we could have done it without the second guys,” said Bulldawgs track coach Keith Stifflemire. “Sure the top finisher gets all the glory but really it’s the second, thirds, and the fourths, fifths and sixths that bring it forward.”
Belton senior Wolf Mahler alone won three individual gold medals on Friday and assisted in a fourth as the lead leg in the Tigers’ 1,600-meter relay (3:18.95). Mahler won both the 110 high hurdles (15.08 seconds), ahead of Killeen’s Bryant Farmer and Brandon Olwell, and gave Belton a 1-2 finish in the 400, finishing just ahead of teammate Kyle Battle at 48.29 and 48.32, respectively. Mahler also won the pole vault with a personal-best height of 16-feet, entering at 14-feet after everyone else had gone out. The second-best vault was Waco Midway’s Karter Amos at 12-6.
The Grey Wolves earned golds in both the 400- and 800-meter relays, just ahead of the Bulldawgs in both events, with the Baylor-bound Jefferson anchoring both with winning times of 41.07 and 1:26.19, respectively. Joining Jefferson on the two relays were DeOntre Haynes, Taron Lloyd and Lege Justice in the 400 and Dwayne Williams in the 800.
In the 100-meter dash, Jefferson overtook Harker Heights’ Darius Mitchell over the final 20 meters to win in 10.69, two-tenths of a second of Mitchell (10.71), while Haynes finished third in 10.8 seconds. The Grey Wolves finished 1-3-4 in the 200, with Lloyd winning in 21.17 also ahead of Mitchell, to pull within 7 ½ points of Cove entering the final two races. Williams and Quasan Hill finished within a second of each other (21.93 and 21.94) for third and fourth, respectively.
“We’re just out here trying to put on a good show right here and make it to the next step every time,” Jefferson said.
Killeen’s Bryant Farmer edged Ellison’s Caleb Holl by 0.09 seconds to win the 300 intermediate hurdles in 38.92 seconds and finished second to Mahler in the 110 high hurdles in 15.14, 0.08 seconds ahead of teammate Brandon Olwell. In the field events, Harker Heights senior Ramone Houston wasn’t going let his groin injury stop him from making his jumps.
Houston outjumped the field by more than 5 inches with his winning leap of 22-9¼ inches on his final preliminary attempt to win the boys long jump.
“I wanted that 23 (feet), I really wanted it,” said Houston, who led with a 22-6 before his last jump. “I usually get it, but this injury holds me back more than I think it does.”
Belton’s Kyle Battle finished second with a leap of 22-4 on his second preliminary jump, four inches ahead of third-place Deondre Ford of Midway. Copperas Cove junior Vondarez King took fourth with a leap of 21-7. In the boys shot put, Belton’s Rashon Jones won with a distance of 52-8, just ahead of Killeen’s Dante Lee’s toss of 48-9.