AUSTIN — Vodrick Carter entered the Texas Relays believing he could compete against the sport’s elite.
He left knowing it was true.
Contending against the best triple jumpers in the state, the Killeen senior delivered an impressive performance, claiming first place with a leap measuring 47 feet, 9½ inches — more than eight inches further than second place.
While the gold medal will always be a cherished keepsake, Carter emerged from the meet with something even more valuable.
“This gave me a huge confidence boost,” he said. “I didn’t know what my competition was going to look like, but once I saw how good they were, I knew I had to just take off.”
And he did.
Carter recorded his winning jump on his first attempt, and he immediately knew the mark would be difficult to beat.
“I felt like I could walk on air after that,” Carter said, “My confidence was sky high after that.”
He was not the only one to leave Austin with additional reassurance, though.
Lampasas’ quartet of Luke Palacios, Thomas Cavalieri, Ace Whitehead and Cameron Everts won the 1,600-meter relay with a time of 3 minutes, 20.5 seconds after delivering the second fastest preliminary time (3:22.37) among the 45-team field.
“This is a great accomplishment,” Badgers head coach Ruben Guerrero said, “and I think this really helps their confidence.
“I’m sure they are thinking that if they ran like they did today with a headwind, then they could still go even faster. Hopefully, we can put it all together and be back for the state track meet.”
Seven area schools were on hand for the Texas Relays, participating in numerous events, but few advanced beyond the preliminaries.
Area boys and girls teams qualified for 38 events but only 13 reached the finals, including the pair of first-place finishes.
Killeen High’s Colin Price was responsible for a pair of showings, placing fifth in the 110 hurdles (14.33) and sixth in Friday’s long jump with a distance of 23-0½. The leap beat teammate Treyvione Bohana (16th, 21-11½) and Ellison’s Stacy Brown (13th, 22-1¾).
“Colin had a long two days,” Killeen head coach Greg Russell said. “He ran the prelims in the 110 hurdles on Friday and had his fastest time of the year at 14 seconds, and he had to do the prelims for the long jump late Friday evening.
“Then, he was up early today, but that is preparing him a little bit for how the district meet will be.”
The three-day District 12-6A meet runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at Copperas Cove’s Bulldawg Stadium.
Ellison was the only other district team to compete in the finals of an event, placing 11 th in the 3,200 relay with a time of 8:20.29. The Eagles team consisted of Romesh Hyman, Ikel Hernandez, Jeremiah Tomlin and Brown, who also advanced to the finals in the triple jump but did not place.
Everts had an equally busy meet for Lampasas. Along with his role in the 1,600 relay, the junior placed 15th in Friday’s 300 hurdles (40.42) and was part of the Badgers’ 800 relay team that did not place.
Gatesville senior Kyle Stifflemire was the only other area athlete to place in the top 10, finishing ninth in the pole vault by clearing 15-3.
In the girls division, Hornets pole vaulter Jordan Morse was 18th (11-3), and Shoemaker’s Cherith Hicks was 17th in the shot put with a heave measuring 49-4¼.
Now, regardless of where each athlete placed, they will all begin preparing for a return trip to Austin in May for the state meet, including Carter.
“Before district,” he said, “I’m going to use a lot of ice and just try to stay stable mentally.
“It’s all about keeping my mind on the goal, not letting outside people get in my head and working on my technique.”