By Alex Byington
The Cove Herald
WACO - Making her first appearance in the Region II-5A track meet, Qiana Canete was understandably nervous.
But, as she glided over bar after bar, her mind began to wonder nearly 8,000 miles away and a gentle calm came over her.
"My dad was going through my head the whole time. He's in Afghanistan, so I really wanted to do it for him," Canete said, choking up as she spoke.
Well, when Joseph Canete returns home next month after a yearlong deployment, the spunky Copperas Cove sophomore will have plenty to show him.
Canete cleared a personal-best height of 5-foot-7 on her first attempt to win gold in the girls high jump Thursday at Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex.
As one of just two area competitors to move on after Day 1, Canete has a chance for even more hardware as she advances to the Class 5A state track and field meet May 11-12 at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.
"I'm going to do the best I can to make everyone proud," Canete said.
It's a drastic improvement for Canete, who came out for track only at the request of Cove volleyball coach Cari Lowery and didn't make varsity until about mid-March.
"At the beginning, I really didn't want to do track - I'm so lazy - and I was kind of just thinking I'd do it for my volleyball coach," Canete said.
But, after a poor showing in her first JV meet, the competitor in her came out. And after struggling with 4-6 several months ago, Canete cleared 5-7 with relative ease Friday, barely scraping the bar with the back of her leg on her way down.
Popping up quickly, Canete watched as the bar shook slightly, threatening to fall, only to settle back into place.
"It was really cool. Since this is my first year, I didn't think I'd get this far, but I totally underestimated myself
Woodberry 5th in 3,200
Cameron Woodberry set the pace and didn't go away, much to the dismay of Ellison senior Silvester Harrison.
As Woodberry saw it, there was no favorite in the boys' 3,200 meters. So the Copperas Cove junior, making his first regional appearance, set the pace that most everyone was able keep up with.
"I'm one of the guys without that strong of a kick, so I knew it was going to be hard for me to come back into the race once it was ran so slow in the early stages. I just prayed that I'd find it within myself to go with them," Harrison said. "I tried, but I just didn't have enough to go with them at the end."
The early pace made for a bunched-up lead group until the final two laps when Klein Oak's Bradley Dohner took off on a dead sprint the final 300 meters.
Dohner, his energy spent after his last sprint, walked off the track, allowing Brigham Hedges from The Woodlands to win the running events' only final Friday in 9:30.69. Harrison finished a career-high fourth (9:43.13) and Woodberry finished fifth (9:49.01).
Cove's Jones finishes 6th
Heading into the regional meet, Ray Jones did his homework. He knew it was going to take a career showing to advance.
The Copperas Cove senior completed one-half of his mission, setting a new personal-best with a throw of 54 feet, 9¾ inches on his second finals attempt in the boys shot put. Unfortunately, not even his best was enough to get him to state.
"The very last throw of my high school career is my best throw ever," Jones said with a sigh. "So I guess you can't be dissatisfied with that."
Jones finished fifth in the shot, 2¾ inches behind silver medalist Jeff Bartlett of Dallas Jesuit (56-1½).