COPPERAS COVE — There weren’t many girls events that concluded Wednesday at the District 12-6A meet, but that did not keep the defending champions and runner-ups from getting off to starts that both felt positioned them for strong finishes.
After the first day of the District 12-6A meet, defending champion Harker Heights was just ahead of Belton for the team lead with 31 points. Reigning runner-up Shoemaker was in fourth.
And after entering the final day of the meet trailing Shoemaker by 22 points last year — a deficit that Lady Knight head coach Chris Van Cleave said felt like 60 — Harker Heights was more than happy with where it stood after Wednesday.
“More confident today,” Van Cleave said with a laugh. “But you never know what’s going to happen.”
That rang true in the 3,200-meter run as Belton took first and second to jump up 18 points to second place.
Brooke Gilmore won the event with a time of 11:25.74 while Olivia Houlden took second with a time of 11:32.53.
Shoemaker actually began the day by literally jumping ahead of everyone as Tava Williams and Jamira Patterson took first and second in the long jump. Teddy Sparks placed fifth to give the Lady Grey Wolves a whopping 19 points in the event.
The sophomore Williams headlined the event with a personal best jump of 17 feet, 9 1/4 inches. Not bad for someone who hadn’t jumped for over a year prior to Wednesday.
“I was just trying to get my feet in the air honestly,” Williams said. “I haven’t jumped in a long time.”
Shoemaker head coach Kevin Ellison was also very proud of Patterson, who vaulted into second place with a jump of 17 feet, 4 1/4 inches on her final jump of the day.
“This is her senior year, she’s trying to continue building a resume,” Ellison said. “She’s got some opportunities out there, so the more she can do the better the opportunities will probably come along.”
Harker Heights, however, inched its way back into contention, starting with a second-place finish by Gigi Santos in the pole vault, where she cleared a career best 9 feet, 3 inches.
Minutes later, senior Chyna Otis repeated as district champion in the shot put with a personal record throw of 47 feet.
For Otis, it was the perfect start to a postseason that she hopes ends with state gold after she placed fourth at state in the event last year.
“I’ve been telling my coach it’s not about just winning anymore,” said Otis, who hasn’t lost in the event this season. “I’ve got to get my numbers up, so that’s what I’ve been working on.”
Ellison senior Jannia Price placed second in the event with a toss of 37 feet, 2 1/2 inches while Delaney Pressley placed third with a toss of 36 feet, 4 1/2 inches for Belton.
Price — who placed second at state in the discus last year — will defend her district title in the discus today. Otis will also compete despite only throwing the discus once this season.
But with Wednesday setting up for a close finish again, Otis was ready to help her team in any way she can.
After all, a district title is on the line.
“I felt this week they kind of clicked that switch on,” Van Cleave said. “In practice, they seemed a little bit more focused, kind of like we’re ready for the postseason, kind of get ready to roll because their goals are Austin.
“That’s their goal, but you’ve got to get district first. They really want to get that four-peat.”