AUSTIN — For DJ Lilley, Daniel McCants, Kyle Boutte and Devyn Williams, it was a lesson learned thanks to gravity.
During the boys 800-meter relay at the District 7-5A/8-5A area meet at Panther Stadium in Waco, the Roos had a shot at advancing when a miscue on the exchange resulted in the baton being dropped and the team being disqualified.
“We already know how fast they are, but you got to get the stick around fast,” Killeen boys head track coach Greg Russell said.
Twenty-five days later, the only thing they were worried about dropping was the medal around each of their necks.
Thanks to three good transitions, the Killeen Kangaroos 400 relay team posted a time 40.69 seconds to win the Class 5A silver medal at the UIL Championships at the University of Texas.
“You set a mark, Kyle hit the mark and I just burst out,” Williams said. “I threw my hand back and he put it in my hand.”
The team finished 0.22 seconds behind state champion Klein Oak and a tenth of a second ahead of bronze medalist Katy Morton Ranch.
The team was Killeen High’s first to reach the state track meet since 2010 and made the most out of their opportunity.
Lilley started off the race from the blocks, handed the baton over to McCants. Boutte ran the third leg and Williams closed out the race by running the anchor leg.
“The trick is to get it going full speed,” McCants said.
“You don’t want to slow down, you don’t want to wait on anybody. You want to give it to him quick and keep going.”
The Roos qualified for the state meet thanks to a second-place finish with a time of 41.20 at the Region I-5A meet in Lubbock last month, where a bad exchange worked in their favor.
District rival Temple was in contention for one of the two automatic spots to state when the Wildcats dropped the baton.
For Boutte, the Roos excelled in one facet of the handoff that doesn’t come easy.
“Chemistry between the legs is a big factor,” Boutte said.
That mistake made the race for state less competitive and helped Killeen finish behind Justin Northwest for second.
Russell credits sprint relay coach Richard Daniels for working with the team to make sure drops were few and far between.
“You can’t have a messed-up handoff,” Russell said. “The kids ran well and I didn’t see anything as far as a mistake in the handoff. I think I was more nervous with us being way out in Lane 9.