Johnny Jefferson finally received a golden ticket to run at the state track meet. And a silver one, too.
The Shoemaker senior qualified for the state meet for the first time in his prolific career, running the third leg of the Grey Wolves’ gold medal-winning 800-meter relay and running the second leg on their second-place 400 relay Saturday at the Region I-5A track and field meet at Texas Tech.
“It’s been a rough four years, but we finally put a good team together, so we’re just ready to go there and put on a show,” said Jefferson, who’s signed with Baylor to play football.
The top two finishers in each event automatically qualify for the UIL State Track Championships May 10-11 at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, and the top third-place finisher across the state’s four regions in each event also qualifies as a wild card.
Cion Hicks, another Shoemaker senior who is signed with Baylor, won the shot put to give her two gold medals in as many days at the meet. She also won the discus on Friday and will be returning in both events at the state track meet, this time as a favorite after finishing second in both events last year.
“I know people always say, ‘It’s your year, it’s your year,’ but I’m just out here to throw relaxed. I don’t put any extra or added pressure because I feel I put enough pressure on myself,” said Hicks, who won the shot Saturday with a throw of 46 feet, 1½ inches. “I turn that pressure into support. People just want to see me do good — see me do good for the community, for my family.”
Shoemaker has not won either a team or individual UIL state championship since Emerald Solomon captured the 215-pound division title at the 2005 UIL Wrestling State Tournament.
“It’s something that you really, really want and it comes to the point where you don’t even want it for yourself anymore. You want it for the pride of the school, for the pride of the community,” Hicks said of the opportunity to win a state championship for Shoemaker. “It’s humbling and it’s very exciting.”
The Grey Wolves’ 800 relay won the regional championship in one minute, 25.10 seconds, edging second-place Lewisville by six-tenths of a second. Their sprint relay finished second to DeSoto in 41.12 to also qualify for the state meet.
The Shoemaker boys finished second at the meet in the team standings. The DeSoto boys and girls teams, both defending 5A state champions, won the Region I team titles. The DeSoto boys finished with 75 points while Shoemaker had 50. The DeSoto girls had 114 points, nearly 50 more than second-place Cedar Hill (70).
Harker Heights’ Ramone Houston won the long jump by nearly three inches, posting a mark of 23-5½ to win the event ahead of Lewisville’s Ahkeel Guy (22-2¾), and Belton’s Wolf Mahler won the 400 in 47.65.
Mahler, who placed third in the pole vault on Friday, was also fourth in the 110-meter hurdles (14.15). Mahler’s teammate Kyle Battle placed sixth in the 400 (49.20).
Killeen’s Bryant Farmer placed second in the 300 hurdles behind DeSoto’s Josh Woods in 37.55. Woods finished in 37.37.
Belton’s Kaylee Krenek placed second in the 100 hurdles (14.24), finishing less than three-tenths of a second behind Cedar Hill’s Taryn Milton (14.11), and Chloe Lewis was third in the shot (41-11¾).
Shoemaker’s Taron Lloyd, who’s a member of both qualifying relay teams, placed third in the 200, finishing just two-hundredths of a second behind second-place Aaron Piper from Duncanville in 21.49. Quasan Hill, who anchored the Grey Wolves’ 800 relay, was fifth (21.93) in the 200 and Harker Heights’ Darius Mitchell was sixth (21.97). Mitchell also placed seventh in the 100 (11.02).
Harker Heights’ Ambrya Mack placed fifth in the high jump (5-4) and the Lady Knights’ 400 and 800 relays both finished fourth in 47.22 and 1:39.82, respectively. Cedar Hill won both relays, setting meet records in both.
Copperas Cove’s Tyler Agnello was sixth in the discus (160-9).