By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Shardasha Patterson is an unapologetic crier.
Waking up crying Thursday morning as she considered what was ahead of her, the Shoemaker senior never really stopped even when she was running.
Tears began to stream down Patterson's face running the final straightaway of the 300-meter hurdles. And when she crossed the finish line, Grey Wolves track coach Kevin Ellison grabbed her in a bear hug and lifted Patterson into the air.
He knew what she had just accomplished.
With her silver-medal finish in the 300 hurdles, coming in second only to teammate Tearra Roberson, the Lady Grey Wolves pulled ahead of favorite Harker Heights to claim the track program's first-ever girls District 12-5A championship Thursday at the district track and field meet at Bulldawg Stadium.
"We got what we wanted - (we're) district champs," Patterson said. "We were the underdogs, but now we're coming up on top."
Led by a gold-medal hat trick from Texas A&M-bound senior LeKesha Jelks, who won all three races she competed in - the 200-, 400- and 800-meter runs - and two golds apiece from Roberson and junior thrower Cion Hicks, the Lady Grey Wolves bested the Lady Knights 156-138 in the team standings.
"I'm extremely proud, we made history at Shoemaker," said Roberson, who won the 100 hurdles in 15.669 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 46.45, more than a second ahead of Patterson's 47.62.
"I think we proved a lot of people wrong today."
In all, Shoemaker came home with nine gold medals and qualified 12 to advance to the Region II-5A meet April 27-28 in Waco in 13 events.
"We deserve it, we work so hard in practice, our coaches all push us so hard – this is exactly what we deserve," Patterson said.
Jelks was a perfect 3-for-3 on Thursday, running away in the 200 (25.619), the 400 (56.1) and the 800 (2:17.89).
"It's letting people know never underestimate Shoemaker, because you never know what will happen," Jelks said.
Often going head-to-head with representatives from Heights, it was the usually downtrodden Lady Grey Wolves that pulled out the victories, including winning the 400-meter relay (48.43) after the Lady Knights botched the second exchange and finished third.
That misstep set the tone for what would be a rough day for the Heights girls.
Outside of finishing 1-2 in the 100 with Brittany Adkins (12.032) and Kiara McCoy (12.349), and owning the 800- (1:42.83) and 1600-meter relays (4:00.34), the Lady Knights struggled when pressured by Shoemaker.
"To come out here at district and not finish on top, it hurts for the whole team," said junior Aliayah McDonald, who finished third and fourth in the 400 and 200, respectively, but anchored the 1,600 relay.
In the field events, Hicks earned a clean sweep of the throwing events, blowing away the rest of the field by 30 feet with a gold-medal-winning toss of 143-feet, 6 inches in the discus after winning the shot put on Wednesday.
"I keep pushing knowing I have to compete, (even if) it's just against yourself," Hicks said.
Copperas Cove sophomore Qiana Canete surprised even herself winning gold in the high jump, clearing a personal best 5-6 on her first attempt after she needed all three just to advance past 5-4.
"I really didn't think I could get this far, I didn't have as much confidence in myself but, I don't know, my team and my coaches really pushed me and I did the best I could," Canete said.