Shoemaker’s girls track and field team had a total of 16 points after the first day of the District 8-6A meet.
After losing to Belton by six at the Killeen ISD Relays, the Lady Grey Wolves found themselves starting the second day of the district meet 42 points behind the Lady Tigers.
But Shoemaker athletics has a motto painted in the weight room of the field house, “Hard work pays off.” And the Lady Grey Wolves hard work paid off April 5 when they took the district championship.
“You like to see what you preach come to fruition,” coach Richard Daniels said. “That’s what we talk about through the season — hard work pays off.”
Toward the end of the district meet the Belton coaches showed Daniels the standings before the girls mile.
Shoemaker held the lead with 102 points, Belton and Killeen both had 101. The Tigers had three runners for the mile and the Lady Wolves had one.
Despite staying in the top three through the first three laps of the mile, Shoemaker fell to last place, earning no points before the final girls’ mile relay. Belton scored 13, which put them ahead of the Lady Wolves 114-102 heading into the final event.
Track and field is all about measurements — down to the last millisecond or quarter-inch — and where every point counts.
Shoemaker finished second in the mile relay, but it was enough points for the Lady Wolves to pass Belton for the district crown, 118-116.
EYES ON THE PRIZE
On a windy Thursday afternoon, Daniels and the girls are on the track working hard in preparation for the area meet next week.
Daniels walks the track with his backpack on, carrying the batons the Lady Grey Wolves use to practice their handoffs.
“Our handoffs delayed us at district,” senior Kayla Scott said as she walked over to her starting mark on the track to practice a smoother transition, “even though we won, you could tell.”
Yet, Scott isn’t surprised that the Lady Grey Wolves won the district championship, “We expected us to be where we are today. It feels good to know that we worked hard enough to get this.”
Daniels echoed the sentiment as his team set the goal at the start of the season to win district.
“To be able to meet that goal, it’s easier to go on and reach for the next goal,” he said, noting that his team now has their eyes set on getting past the area round and advancing to regionals.
“We’re going against one of the toughest districts in the state of Texas,” Daniels said of Thursday’s meet with District 7-6A at Waco Midway. “If we can go and compete with those girls, we can compete with anyone in the state.
“That’s what we look forward to, stepping up to the challenge.”
While Daniels and the Shoemaker girls’ track team celebrated their victory, this past week has been all about preparation.
“It feels good to know that you’ve worked this hard to get to district,” Scott said, “but I know that I can’t stop here.”
At area, Scott is determined to run her personal bests and break team records.
“I’m pushing for the 100 meter as my individual,” she said.
Although Scott ran the 100 in 12.48 seconds at the district meet, she’s determined to break the 11.07 record set in 2016.
“Coach (Daniels) had taught me a lot about preparing mentally. It’s 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical, so while you’re running you have to tell yourself to go and push harder.
“You have to chase the goal.”
FROM THE TRACK TO THE PIT
Senior Tava Williams didn’t think she’d be on the track team this year after taking a break to deal with some personal issues at home but returned when the coaches asked her back this season.
“She started out kind of late,” Daniels said of the former sprinter. “She wasn’t in sprint shape like she usually is, so we were going to have her stop.
“But she has too much power, she’s too good of an athlete not to do something.”
Shot put coach Shaw Moore saw such potential in Williams that she persuaded her to give the event a try.
“I told her, trust me, you’re strong and she came out and tried it,” Moore said. “She started liking it, she started doing it more and then she started placing.
“She threw the discus as well, she just liked the shot more,” she added with a chuckle.
Although she’s new to shot put, Williams placed third in district.
“It feels really good,” Williams said, “but then I also feel really bad because a lot of people have been working hard and I just came out here for fun, not to beat them.
“It feels good though.”
Daniels is also impressed with how far the senior has come in her only year competing in this new area of track and field, “I’m just glad that she came out and competed, and found out something she didn’t know she could do.”
Shoemaker also took first in the shot behind sophomore Cherith Hicks. Unlike Williams, shot put runs in her blood and is something of a family event.
Hicks’ older sister, Cion, is a former Shoemaker standout who went on to compete for Baylor.
Her sister is not only Hicks’ motivation, but the whole reason she got into the sport in the first place.
“Whenever she started doing it, I watched her and wanted to do whatever my sister was doing,” Hicks said.
To this day, Hicks’ competitive spirit leads her to continue to be better than the day before, “I don’t like getting second, I always like winning.”
She also has her eyes set on breaking her sister’s record. Cion Hicks currently holds the shot put record for Shoemaker at 47 feet, 9 inches as a senior at the state meet in 2013.
“I’m not only trying to break her record and win state,” Hicks said, “but win it at a younger age than she did.”
Hicks is also quick to point out that she can throw farther as a sophomore than her sister did as a sophomore.
“And that’s coming off an injury,” Daniels adds of her early season knee recovery.
For Moore, coaching Williams and Hicks comes easy, as there isn’t any bad, competitive blood between the two shot putters.
“They understand being a team,” Moore said. “I would have love for them to go 1 and 2 but I’ll take 1 and 3 all day long.
At the area meet, Shoemaker will also be represented by Hicks in the discus. Scott qualified in the 100 and will run for the Lady Wolves in the 400 and 800 relays, along with Grace Parker, La'Tia Wooten, Geordan Blanchard, and Taylia Jones.
Blanchard qualified for the 400, while Wooten and Jones both qualified for the 200.
Emijah Spencer will compete in the high jump. The Lady Grey Wolves also qualified for the 1,600 relay.
“I think they’re ready,” Daniels said of his team. “They just have to get their minds right and that confidence they did when they went to district.”