WACO — It wasn’t until Shoemaker junior Tyriete Dixon finished her sixth and final long jump attempt that her heart started really going due to the suspense.
After hearing for most of the afternoon that a jump of 17 feet may be good enough to take fourth place and advance to next week’s regional track meet, she knew she was cutting it close.
And one by one, the medals were handed out.
First to Mansfield Timberview’s Bryanna Lawrence, then to Cedar Hill’s Joyner Holmes and then to Timberview’s Kelsey Johnson. There was only one left and what followed was music to her ears.
“It was really suspenseful,” Dixon said. “I knew I was really behind, and going into finals I was third-to-last. Everyone was saying if you hit a 17, you’ll be in the mix, and that’s what I did.”
Dixon’s fourth jump of 17 feet, 5½ inches was good enough for fourth at the area track meet and qualified her for the Region I-5A meet at the Fuller Track and Field Complex in Lubbock.
The area track meet pitted the best from District 8-5A against their 7-5A counterparts at Panther Stadium with the top four in each event advancing to the regional meet.
This was Dixon’s first year making it to the area meet in both the long and triple jumps. She finished sixth in the triple jump (35-3½).
“I put in a lot of work,” Dixon said. “Doing constant run-throughs even though I’m tired.”
But it wasn’t easy, as Dixon had to make some adjustments along the way.
After getting off to a rough start with jumps of 14-8¾ and 15-10¾ in her first two attempts, she hit 16 -9¼ during her third jump and heading into the second leg of the competition.
For Shoemaker track coach Kevin Ellison, the key to the improved distances for both Dixon and teammate Teddy Sparks is a technical adjustment of putting their legs out in front of them and hitting the dirt.
“I told them you’ve got to get dirty,” Ellison said. “If you want to advance, you’ve got to get dirty. You can’t walk out of there clean. You’re going to have to try to go get this thing.”
Dixon knew that a jump of less than 17 feet wasn’t going to get her far, so on her fourth attempt, she went all out.
“I wasn’t on the board, I wasn’t landing right, I wasn’t doing anything that I know how to do,” Dixon said. “After my coaches talked to me and told me what I needed to do, I finally took my time, took a breath and did what I had to do.”
And the competition was stiff for that final spot. Dixon finished just 3 inches ahead of Cedar Hill’s Taryn Milton and 5 inches ahead of Killeen junior Sinoda Emanuel.
“I’m really happy that I’m the only one (from Killeen ISD) that made it out,” Dixon said. “I didn’t think I was since I got third in district and didn’t have a lot of confidence, but now I do.”
Lawrence took the area title with a jump of 18-5.
Senior Justin Murphy took home the gold in the boys shot put (54-7¾) and advanced to the regional meet.
The Lady Tigers will be well represented in the discus after junior Bekah Alcozer (129-10) finished third and freshman Chloe Lewis finished fourth (126-7). Lewis also qualified for regionals after finishing fourth in the shot put (41-2).
Senior Gabe Perez is the area champion after winning the boys discus gold (165-1). Teammate David Castillo took the silver (165).
Junior Mikayla Blount advanced to the regional meet after finishing second in the girls pole vault (9-6). Junior Jason Cole also won bronze in the boys pole vault (12-6).
Texas Relays qualifier Chyna Otis is on her way to regionals after taking gold in the girls shot put (44-6¾) and bronze in the girls discus (130-11).
Vivian Walters advanced to the regional meet after finishing third in the girls triple jump (35-8¼). Jevon Wallace also took bronze in the boys triple jump (45-11½).
Senior Justin Glaze is on his way to Lubbock after finishing in a third-place tie in the boys high jump (6-4). Junior T’Mond Johnson also took bronze in the boys discus (156-08).
Junior Jasmine Rhodes qualified for the regional meet after finishing fourth in the girls high jump (5-2).