AUSTIN — Shoemaker’s Cion Hicks smiled and outstretched her arms wide as Valarie Allman approached.
The mellow competitor — with a fierce inner intensity — wrapped her arms around Allman and congratulated her.
Moments earlier, Hicks finished second to Allman, who attends Silver Creek High in Colorado, at the 86th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on Friday.
“Just because I am toward the top and everyone knows me does not mean I have to be a mean thrower who is the beast,” Hicks joked. “I just like to be calm and cool.”
Hicks’ throw of 150 feet in the discus was more than 20 feet off her personal best and 34 feet behind Allman, but Hicks had a simple explanation. She was too relaxed — too happy.
“After I committed and everything, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, but out here I was just relaxed and had fun,” said Hicks, who signed with Baylor in February. “I was pulling out wide because I was stepping out early and releasing it. Those throws that went wide were about 160. I just have to adjust.”
Last year, Hicks failed to make the finals at the Texas Relays. Now with that goal achieved, she is ready to move on to the next step.
“It is a blessing to come back and overcome what I did last year,” Hicks said. “I could have had a mental block, but I turned it around and had fun, because everything I worked for — I have my scholarship.”
Hicks has thrown 157-0 this season and is aiming to do something else she fell short of last year — win a state title. But only if it comes with a bit of fun.
“If I have fun, stuff is bound to happen. I am in the range where I need to be,” Hicks said. “I just have to use that adrenaline and know where my feet are and get in that repetition and I am going to hit it.”
Hicks was part of a larger Shoemaker contingent that made its mark at the relays — even if Hicks was the only one to leave with a medal.
Senior Quasan Hill had the sixth- best mark in the high jump (6-5), but finished 10th due to earlier misses.
“When I took off and planted my foot I felt my knee gave out,” Hill said.
“Usually it does that after four or five jumps, but for some reason I felt it on the first jump.”
Regardless, Hill, who was making his first appearance at the relays, was excited for the experience.
“It feels good being here, I have never jumped in front of this many people, but I wish I had jumped my best,” he said. “Usually I am around 6-8 or 6-9 … I think if I find a way to make my knee feel better I can jump well by the time district rolls around.”
Shoemaker sprinter Johnny Jefferson also competed, placing 20th in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.81 seconds. The Grey Wolves also competed in the 1,600-meter relay placing in the preliminaries. Jasmine Rhodes placed 43rd (12.49) in the 100-meter dash behind Harker Heights’ Brittany Adkins and also Christonna Jones of Ellison, who placed 18th (12.13).
Ellison’s 1,600 relay finished 75th (4:25.03) in Division II and Salado’s finished 31st in Division I (4:17.41).
Belton qualified in the 1,600 relay, finishing fifth behind the quartet of Cager Jack, Wolf Mahler, Nate Mitchell and Kyle Battle in a time of 3:19.04. Shoemaker placed 27th.
In the 100 hurdles, Belton sophomore Kaylee Krenek finished 17th with time of 14.73 and Killeen senior Tiare Dugger was 28th (14.97). Ryan Simmons of Salado placed ninth in the boys discus with a throw of 162-0. His teammate Alex Cooke finished eighth in the boys 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:20.33. Killeen junior Brittany Mitchell finished 10th in the girls 1,600 (5:10.22).
Harker Heights, which has been running roughshod over its competition at meets across the state, only ran sparingly at the Relays, with Adkins taking 15th in the 100-meter dash and the 800-meter relay team of Keyuana Wilder, Aliayah McDonald, JoVanna Jones and Adkins also placing 15th, with a time of 1:41.88. However, the Lady Knights did place second in their heat behind Fort Bend Hightower.
“I think we did really well, but our handoffs were a little messed up,” Jones said. “I think it was just our nerves. … It means a lot to us, know we know we war bigger than just in Killeen and can do things.”