By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - To Anthony Watkins, it only felt like a graze.
For the Harker Heights hurdle he clipped, it was a final hurrah.
In the wrong place at the wrong time, the third hurdle lined up in Lane 4 found itself a casualty of the Killeen junior's left knee as Watkins cruised to gold in the boys 110-meter varsity race Thursday in the rescheduled Knights Relays at Harker Heights High School.
"When I was running, I felt for an instant my knee hit the hurdle, but after that - I've hit hurdles before - and I just thought it'd fall and come back up, so I just kept on running," Watkins said. "And then when I finished, I looked down and saw my knee was bleeding, and I was like, 'I hit the hurdle that hard?' and I looked back and didn't see the hurdle."
That's because it was in two pieces, with the plastic board separated at the bolts from its metal stand, lying on the ground like debris that got caught up in Watkins' wake.
"I've never seen that in a race. I've seen people come down on a hurdle and break it, but I've never seen them knock the bolts off," Killeen boys track coach Greg Russell laughed.
Despite clipping the hurdle, Watkins appeared to speed up following the third hurdle, gliding over the rest while pulling away from the pack by the 50-meter mark to win with a time of 14.2 seconds, 4.3 ahead of Roos teammate John Warren.
Watkins continued his gold-medal ways, eclipsing Shoemaker's Ismael Mongare after clearing the final hurdle to win the 300 hurdles by more than half a second (39.81).
"After the third hurdle, that's when I kick, and as you saw I pulled in front of everyone by at least a hurdle," Watkins said of his 110 performance. "That's where the kick was and I guess my body kicked harder than I thought it would and my trail leg didn't come around as fast as I wanted it to."
Although it was being considered a warm-up meet with the district competitions slated to start next week, there wasn't much practicing going on for the competitors.
The Roos racked up multiple golds, including two from Warren, who again swept both the long jump (21 feet, 9 inches) and the triple jump, setting a personal-best distance of 48-8 in the triple. Victor Glaze added to Killeen's gold count with a first in the high jump (6-10) while middle distance runner Jalen Wade won the 800 (1:58).
The host Knights had several individual champions, led by junior sprinter Brandon Hill who blazed to a 10.31 in the 100-meter dash and a 21.35 in the 200 while anchoring the Heights' 800 relay to gold (1:27.56). Hill was joined by Heights distance runner Robert Cavin, who took first in the 3,200 with a 10:05.
Ellison's Sean McBryde coasted to first in the 400 (49.97) and then lead the Eagles to an easy gold in the mile relay (3:26.88), pulling away from the start with a strong first leg, while teammate Silvester Harrison won the 1,600-meter run (4:28), a second ahead of Cavin, and Jules Taylor took gold in the discus (142-10). Shoemaker won the 400 relay behind anchor Johnny Jefferson (42.2)
With the District 12-5A meet set to begin Wednesday at Copperas Cove, Harker Heights girls coach Michelle Womack wanted to keep her runners healthy, only allowing them to compete in two events apiece.
The move paid off as the fresh Lady Knights swept all three relays, winning the 400 in 47.78 seconds, the 800 in 1:40.16 and the 1,600 in a season-best time of 3:53.67 - more than 20 seconds and about 100 meters ahead of second-place finisher Killeen.
"I feel like we're ready," said senior Jasmine Williams, the lead leg on the 1600 relay. "We've been been PRing at every meet and we're ready for district, regionals and state too."
Anchoring the last two relays, junior speedster Aliayah McDonald also ran away with the 200 dash (25.16) while Alithea Collins won the 400-meter dash (60.49) and Cristina Cortez won the 1,600 run (5:46).
After struggling some last weekend at the Texas Relays, Shoemaker junior Cion Hicks got back to her dominating ways with a personal-best throw of 145 in the discus and 44-10½ in the shot to win both events.
"Right now it's all about marks, I don't even really worry about getting first because if you do what you have to do you'll get the medal," Hicks said. "Because colleges don't ask how many gold medals you have, they ask what were your marks."
Joining Hicks, the Lady Grey Wolves also finished first in the 100-meter hurdles (Tiara Roberson, 14.5), in the 100-meter dash (Jasmine Rhodes, 12.42).
Lady Roos' Brittany Mitchell, usually a longer distance runner, competed in the 800 for the first time all season and won with a time of 2:20, while Tiara Dugger finished first in 300 hurdles (47.17) and the high jump (5 feet).