By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - Having owned the 3,200-meter run the last two seasons, Derwin Graham was just waiting until half a lap from the finish line to throw it in gear.
Except he never got the chance.
Pulling away from the rest of the field, the Baylor-bound Graham thought it was just himself and Ellison junior Silvester Harrison. Only, his biggest competition had yet to emerge.
Drafting stride-for-stride behind Graham, A&M Consolidated senior Travis Bohne surprised most in attendance as he overtook both Graham and Harrison down the final stretch of the seventh lap.
"He was just cruising off of us, and then used it to his advantage and took off that last lap," Graham said.
Charging ahead, Bohne held off a late surge by Graham to win the 3,200 with a time of 9:38.99 - 3 seconds ahead of Graham - in the final event Tuesday, the first day of the District 12-5A track and field meet at Bulldawg Stadium.
"The plan was just hang on as long as I could, but as I was coming up the home stretch with one lap to go, I knew Derwin has a kick and if I was going to beat him, I needed a big enough lead over the entire last lap that he wouldn't be able to catch me," Bohne said.
Although the gamble paid off, it was still the Bulldawgs day as the Cove boys dominated Day 1, winning all three field event finals in the morning and posting the top qualifying time in three of the five preliminary running events held.
Leading the charge was multi-threat junior Orlando Thomas and senior John Horton, who won the triple jump with a distance of 50 feet, 3½ inches ahead of fellow Bulldawg jumpers Matt Hall (47-7¼) and Jason Hope (46-11½) for an all-Cove medal stand. Hope also won the high jump (6-6), while senior Levonte Wright tossed a 171-4 in the discus to out-throw a pair of defending regional qualifiers last season in Darien Brown of Ellison (167) and Levi Jordan of Belton (165-5), who finished second and third for the second straight year.
Thomas also qualified first in the 110 hurdles (14.13) ahead of teammate Mark Branch (14.3) and Ellison senior Lynn Grady (14.56). Branch led the field in the 300 hurdles (39.68), leading Grady (40.16) and Temple's Shaquille White.
The two-day meet finishes today with field events starting at 1 p.m. and running events at 5 p.m. Only top three finishers advance to the Region II-5A track meet, the first week of May at Baylor's Hart-Patterson Track Complex in Waco.
Among the other top times in the prelims included Shoemaker sophomore Johnny Jefferson, who posted the fastest 100 time (10.97) and third fastest in the 200 (22.19), while Texas-signee Kyle Thompson of Harker Heights led in the 400 (49.93) ahead of the Ellison duo of Sean McBryde (49.96) and Chris Hall (50.27).
On the girls side, Belton senior thrower Ashlie Francis knew she needed to throw well to make it to region.
Surprising even herself, Francis won the shot put on her opening salvo with a personal-best 41 feet, 5 inches, surpassing her previous PR by 4 feet.
"It completely blew my mind - it was really exciting," Francis said laughing.
"I was really relaxed. I knew what I had to do, it's my senior year, so I'm leaving it out there."
That effort was more than enough to edge her stiffest competition, beating sophomore Cion Hicks of Shoemaker (39-11½) and Jarika Thomas of Ellison (39-9½).
Less than three days after winning at the 84th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, Cove senior Traonna Shedrick outdid herself Tuesday with a PR leap of 18-10¾ to win the long jump ahead of Aloysia Young of Shoemaker (18-7) and Lady Dawg teammate Andrea Hurt (18-1).
"Out of nowhere, I got an 18-10," Shedrick said.
A&M Consolidated led the Day 1 team standings thanks to big wins as Karis Jochen blew away the field to win the 3,200 (11:10.85), finishing 54½ seconds ahead of runner-up teammate Amy Bingaman, and Catherin Chenault won the pole vault (10-6).
Defending district champion Harker Heights, which had just one point after the first day, expects to get back into contention today with Aliayah McDonald posting the top preliminary time in both the 200 (25.22) and 400 (56.37), and Valencia Lock leading in the 100 (12.41).
In both races, McDonald edged out runner-up Lekesha Jelks of Shoemaker, who finished 0.07 seconds behind in the 200 and 0.32 behind in the 400.
"On the track, we're not friends - I don't have any friends when I get on the track," McDonald said. "It's all about me, my time and crossing the finish line first."
Shoemaker broke through with Tearra Roberson, who was the top qualifier in both the 100 hurdles (15.4) and 300 hurdles (46.72).