Let’s be clear: Finishing second in any event at the Texas State Track and Field Meet is a fantastic achievement.
But to Salado’s outstanding senior throwers, Rachel Hildebrand and Ryan Simmons, finishing second is a been-there-done-that sort of thing.
“This year, I want to win,” said Hildebrand, who will compete in the shot put in Austin this weekend for the second consecutive year.
Simmons has qualified for the state meet in discus the past four years. He’s made it to Austin the past three years in the shot put.
“I’d like to win the gold in at least one event this year,” Simmons said. “But it’d sure be nice to bring home two gold medals.”
In 2013, Simmons finished second in the state in the shot put, barely missing out on a gold medal.
“Ryan was leading the shot put the whole time until the very last throw,” said Salado head coach Dave Simmons. “He does want to win state very bad this year — and that’s a good thing. This year, he’s going in with the third best throw in the shot and he’s got the second best throw in the discus.
“He’s got some tough competition but he’s also competing against himself because he wants to win so bad. I’m trying to get him to loosen up because he wants it so bad. I have full confidence in him, he’ll be ready to go.”
Coach Simmons expressed the same faith in Hildebrand.
“Last year, Rachel came in second place by three inches,” he said. “She’s got a real good shot at winning state this time. She’s going into this meet with the best throw of 41-7 ½, and the closest to her is 38-11. If Rachel throws as good as she can, she won’t see much competition. If she throws well, she’ll be tough to beat.”
Hildebrand said she’s enjoyed the past two weeks of preparing for state.
“The practices this week and last week have been great,” she said. “I’ve been lifting hard and I’ve improved a whole bunch.”
Hildebrand said it’s to her advantage that she qualified for Austin in 2013.
“I’m actually not nervous now,” she said. “I may get the butterflies a little once I get to Austin. But this year I know what to expect so I think I’ll just be more excited than anything else.
“In order to win, I just need to throw like I have been during practices — and then have faith all my hard work in practices these past four years will allow me to perform at my best.”
Contact Allan Mandell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7566â€‹ and read his blog at KDHPressbox.com