AUSTIN — Omar Craddock looked into the stands and saw his grandmother.
It was the first time Rosie Jefferson had ever seen her grandson, who graduated from Richard Milburn Academy in Killeen in 2009 and is now a senior at the University of Florida, jump.
Despite nursing an injury, Craddock did not let her down. He jumped 16.43 meters (53 feet, 11 inches) Friday to take first place at the 86th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays.
“Coming back to Texas and with all my family in the stands, I wanted to put on a good show for them,” Craddock said. “It is my first Texas Relays since I was 15. I couldn’t come last year … and being back here is a blessing.
“My grandma was in the stands and she had not seen me jump since middle school.
“For them to be able to see me compete in Texas after six years — they came all the way from Lubbock — was just a blessing.”
While he won, the Gators senior wanted to jump further in his first meet back since suffering an injury at the NCAA indoor nationals. Craddock was out for two weeks after nationals and had not practiced.
“Under my big toe, just swelled up and I could not walk,” Craddock said.
“So I have been out. Tuesday was my first day back jumping and everything was just brand new and I jarred my knee.”
Still Craddock edged out California junior Hammed Suleman, who had overtook Craddock with his third jump of 16.27 meters, on his fourth attempt of the day.
“Considering my condition right now I am not too upset, but I am not satisfied either,” Craddock said. “I came out here with a goal. I was ready to jump over 17 meters and obviously I didn’t do it.
“So I am disappointed about that.”
Craddock was able to overcome his injury. Steven White, a former 5A state champion from Ellison, was not. The North Texas senior fractured his foot when he hit a hurdle and landed awkwardly at the Olympic Trials in August.
In his first race since the injury, White found out the hard way he was not ready to return. Halfway through the race the pain became too much and he fell to the back of the pack. He finished last with a time of 55.81 seconds, more than five seconds slower than his time at the relays last year (50.53).
“I definitely was not ready,” White said, as he sat on the track at Myers Stadium rubbing the injured foot. “I thought I was, but I still have a long way to go. I don’t know what is going to happen yet, but I am going to go as far as I can before I take it down.”
In the college division of the 400 hurdles, former Copperas Cove standout Roberto Camacho finished fourth (53.29).
Craddock was not the only former Killeen jumper to excel Friday. Texas freshman Victor Glaze placed fourth in the high jump with a height of 2.13 meters (6 feet, 11¾ inches). No one jumped higher than Glaze, but the former Roo missed twice at the height, and the three jumpers ahead of him all cleared it on their second attempt.
Former Ellison stars fared better in the pure sprints. Michael Bryan has not beaten his friend, Texas A&M teammate and former Ellison high star Prezel Hardy Jr., often.
But thanks to a fast heat at the Texas Relays he has at least one more victory over Hardy in his belt.
Bryan finished sixth in the preliminaries of the University 100-meter dash with a time of 10.34 seconds, edging Hardy, who ran a 10.45. Hardy placed second in his heat, the seventh, but did not qualify for the finals today.
Bryan finished third in his heat, the eighth, but safely moved on.
“Not at all the day I wanted to have. I gotta get my swagger back cuz I’m just not myself on the track without it,” Hardy tweeted late Friday.
Earlier, Bryan and Hardy teamed up with Ameer Webb and Aldrich Bailey Jr. to lead Texas A&M’s 400 relay to the top preliminary time (39.73), edging Florida by three-hundredths of a second and easily qualifying for today’s final.
Former Shoemaker standout Chaniqua Corinealdi, running the second leg, led TCU to the eighth-best qualifying time in the 400 relay with a time of 45.65 and earning a spot in the finals today. Corinealdi also finished 22nd in the 100 (11.72).
Kyle Thompson and Hector Hernandez battled again in the distance medley relay, racing the third leg against each other. Thompson, former state champion from Harker Heights, overtook Hernandez, a former state champion from Ellison, early, but Hernandez made a late push and passed the baton off to his teammate, Henry Lelei, a fraction of a second ahead of Thompson.
The Aggies could not hold off the Longhorns, though. Patrick McGregor passed Lelei and Texas won with a time of 9:40.42.
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569