WACO — Though the sprinters may get more of the glory, the members of the Killeen ISD track teams showed they were in it for the long haul.
Six different distance runners from Killeen ISD schools took a total of nine qualifying slots on their way to the Region I-5A meet after good showings at the area meet Tuesday at Panther Stadium.
“It takes a lot of discipline and hard work,” Killeen senior Brittany Mitchell said about being a distance runner. “I’m not saying sprinters don’t do that, but it’s a different type of running mentality.”
The area track meet pitted the best from District 8-5A against their 7-5A counterparts, with the top four in each event advancing to the regional meet in Lubbock.
Mitchell and Ellison’s Efrain Hernandez led the field, with each winning double golds and a chance to qualify for state.
Mitchell took first place in both the girls 3,200-meter run (11 minutes, 12.14 seconds) and 1,600 (5:08.34). Hernandez won the boys 800 (1:52.29) and 1,600 (4:29.39).
Hernandez said he’s more comfortable running the 800, but still welcomes the chance to improve in the 1,600.
“The 800 is the race that I like, and the mile I use as the frosting on top of the cake,” Hernandez said.
Harker Heights seniors Scott McEwan (9:52.22) and Garrett Darrin (9:54.77) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the boys 3,200 run.
Heights Lauren Reynnells is on her way to Lubbock after finishing third in the girls 3,200 run (11:35.39) and fourth in the 1600 run (5:26.15).
Lady Wolves junior Jamie Eckford took the silver in the girls 800 (2:14.81). Eckford lost to De Soto’s Camry Grigsby by 0.63 seconds. Eckford cut more than five seconds off her district meet time.
“I think it’s just whoever’s in front of me motivates me the most,” Eckford said. “I’ve got to catch that person.”
Mitchell cut almost 10 seconds from her District 8-5A time and began the 1,600 in Lane 4. She made her way to the front of the pack by the first turn of the first lap.
After holding off Belton’s Brooke Gilmore for most of the race, the West Texas A&M signee distanced herself during the final lap to win by 2.54 seconds.
“On the district race, I held back for the first 200 and I noticed that messed up my time for the first lap,” Mitchell said. “This time, I just went for it.”
For Hernandez, the 800 was his from the start and he knew it. He rode a good start to a big lead and finished more than four second ahead of runner up Lorenzo Gordon of DeSoto.
“I knew I shouldn’t have had anybody close to me so I war really racing against the time,” Hernandez said.
DeSoto won the girls area championship with 132 points. Heights finished fourth with 66, Belton fifth with 45, Killeen sixth with 41 and Shoemaker 10th with 28.
The DeSoto boys also took the area title with 88.5 points. Heights finished fifth with 50 points, Copperas Cove finished eighth with 30, Belton ninth with 29.5, Killeen 10th with 29 and Ellison and Shoemaker tied for 13th with 20 points apiece.
Senior Jack Cager took gold in the boys 400 (47.92).
Brooke Gilmore became the Lady Tigers first running event regional qualifier of the day after finishing second in the girls 3,200 (1:17.92). Gilmore was also the silver medalist in the 1,600 (5:10.88).
Junior Kaylee Krenek became a multiple qualifier after finishing second in the girls 100 hurdles (14.52) and third in the 300 hurdles (45.73).
Krenek said facing unfamiliar competition is a welcome challenge during the area meet.
“I definitely like this much more because I’m coming out not knowing that first place is mine,” Krenek said. “It’s something I have to fight for and I love it because I’m being pushed so hard.”
Darius Mitchell won the boys 200 (21.49). The Knights relay team also took gold in the 1,600 (3:18.27).
JoVanna Jones qualified for the regional meet after placing third in the girls 100 (12.17).
Jones was also a part of the 800 (1:40.82) and 400 (47.04) relay teams that won the bronze.
Devyn Williams took silver in the boys 200 (22.09). Williams was also a part of the Roos’ 400 relay team that finished fourth (41.82).
“We like the competition and everything and we’re just glad we qualified,” Williams said.
“It’s just good to qualify and make that next step for state.”
Amber Ellis qualified for the regional meet after taking bronze in the girls 200 (25.72).
The Grey Wolves placed two boys 100 runners into regionals as Oregon State football signee Dwayne Williams won the silver (11.06) and Tre Haynes took the bronze (11.15).