By Alex Byington and Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily 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 I guess, and I did what I had to do," Canete said
Shoemaker's Hicks dominates in shot put
A year ago, after finding out she missed making state in the shot put by mere inches, Shoemaker's Cion Hicks felt sick to her stomach.
On Friday, the feeling reemerged. Only this time it was the best kind of sick.
"I felt nauseous - I get nauseous when I'm really upset - so when he said (45 feet) I went over (to the resting area) and I was actually shaking, and (my teammates) were grabbing my hand and I was still shaking," Hicks said. "I couldn't even drink my drink I was so overwhelmed with all of it - it was just amazing."
With a personal-best throw of 45 feet, 10 inches on her third preliminary attempt, Hicks assured herself a trip to state by winning the girls shot put by more than a full foot ahead of runner-up N'Dia Warren-Jaques of Conroe Oak Ridge.
"I've been working on pulling my hips through and I think I finally did all that together, and it was just the perfect moment to do it," Hicks said.
Copperas Cove's Shayla Tedder finished fifth at 38-11¼ while Belton's Chloe Lewis was 10 inches behind in seventh (38-1¼).
Harrison 4th, 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. He threw his hands into the air after crossing the line and just as the final bell rang, signalling the start of the final lap.
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).
"I had already heard the last two or three weeks there was no clear favorite in this race, that it's anybody's game. I used that to my advantage," Woodberry said. "I knew there was going to be one pack, we were going to stay together. So when I went out, I tried not to use up and burn out on the first lap and that's what helped me stay with the pack the next seven laps."
Cove's Jones finishes 6th with PB toss
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).
Jelks goes 2-for-3 in running prelims
Lekesha Jelks plunked down on the asphalt barefoot and exhausted after running her final preliminary of the day.
The Texas A&M signee finished fourth in her 200-meters heat, failing to make today's event finals, but she isn't done just yet.
Jelks ran the second-fastest qualifying time in the 400 (55.76) and the fourth-fastest time in the 800 (2:14.11) to make the finals in both of those events.
She won her heat in the 400 and led substantially in the 800, only to be overtaken at the end to finish second.
"In the 800, the last 100, I tried to push it, but I tightened up and couldn't go all-out in my last 100 like I'm used to," Jelks said. "But, the 400, I did better the last 100. I pushed, used my arms more to bring me through."
Harker Heights' Brandon Hill will also be running in a pair of finals today after running the fastest time in the boys 200 (21.60) and second-fastest time in the 100 (10.57).
"For a prelim time, I'm pretty happy with it," Hill said of his time in the 100 meters. "It was an unexpected race; the guys that were next to me, I didn't expect to be that close. They pushed me a little bit harder than I wanted to go that race, but I'm OK with it."
All three Lady Knights relays made today's finals led by its mile relay, which won its heat and enters with the fourth-fastest time (3:56.04) overall.
Ellison's Hector Hernandez won his heat in the 800 to make the finals in that event with the sixth-fastest time (1:57.51).
REGION II-5A TRACK AND FIELD MEET
At Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex, Waco
Day 1 Final results
3,200 meters - 1, Brigham Hedges, The Woodlands, 9:30.69. 2, Justin Brinkley, Humble Kingwood, 9:32.94. 3, Dillon Worley, Klein, 9:33.80. 4, Silvester Harrison, Ellison, 9:43.13. 5, Cameron Woodberry, Copperas Cove, 9:49.01. 6, Bryce McAndrew, Round Rock McNeil, 9:53.66.
High Jump - 1, Kenneth Legassey, Woodlands, 6-8*. 2, Sean Spiehler, Humble Kingwood, 6-8. 3, Alex Caruso, A&M Consolidated, 6-8. 4, Tyris Jefferson, Tyler Lee, 6-6*. 5, Steven Leonard, Klein, 6-6. 6, Aaron Ballard, Sachse, 6-6.
Triple Jump - 1. Patrick Robinson, Dallas Skyline, 48-6½. 2, Dominique Drayden, DeSoto, 47-8¼. 3, Eric Janise, The Woodlands, 47-2½; 4, Tryis Jefferson, Tyler Lee, 46-11. 5, Jordan Thomas, Klein Collins, 46-9½. 6, Justin Wilson, McKinney Boyd, 46-5½. Also: 9. Johnny Jefferson, Shoemaker, 44-7.
Shot Put - 1, Jeremy Jones, Klein Oak, 56-6. 2, Jeff Bartlett, Dallas Jesuit, 56-0. 3, Tristen Newman, College Park, 55-8¾. 4, Andrew Everett, Klein Collins, 55-4½. 5, Ray Jones, Copperas Cove, 54-9¾. 6, Cody Burkett, Woodlands, 53-9½. Also: 11, Levi Jordan, Belton, 48-11¼. 12, Darius McClinton, Copperas Cove, 48-6¼.
3,200 meters - 1, Madi McLellan, The Woodlands, 10:35.14#. 2, Karis Jochen, A&M Consolidated, 10:38.65. 3, Katie Jensen, College Park, 10:41.79. 4, Sandie Raines, Humble Kingwood, 10:51.97. 5, Melanie Enriquez, Round Rock Stony Point, 11:19.47. 6, Rachel St. Martin, Tomball, 11:41.11. Also: 12, Katelin Huckabee, Belton, 11:58.90.
High Jump - 1, Qiana Canete, Copperas Cove, 5-7*. 2. Zarriea Willis, Spring Dekaney, 5-7. 3, Allie Harman, Tomball, 5-4*. 4, Parker Lynch, Humble Kingwood, 5-4. 5, Acheil Tac, Sachse, 5-4. 6, Natasha Tillett, Humble Kingwood, 5-2. Also: 7. Emily Krenek, Belton, 5-2. 9T, Jasmine Garcia, Copperas Cove, 5-0.
Triple Jump - 1, Paetyn Revell, DeSoto, 40-2. 2, Onyeoma Okereke, Dallas Samuel, 40-0¾. 3, Taylor Glenn, Rowlett, 39-2¾. 4, Price, College Park, 38-7. 5, Viershanie Latham, Mesquite, 38-6¾. 6, Amber Calvert, College Park, 38-6¼. Also: 12, Tia Blackwell, Copperas Cove, 36-3¾. 14, Alithea Collins, Harker Heights, 36-0½. 19, Aloysia Young, Shoemaker, 35-3.
Shot put - 1, Cion Hicks, Shoemaker, 45-10. 2, N'Dia Warren-Jaques, Conroe Oak Ridge, 44-6½. 3, Adrienne Lewis, DeSoto, 43-2¾. 4, Danicia Taylor, Round Rock, 40-3. 5, Shayla Tedder, Copperas Cove, 38-11¼. 6, Ashley Kennedy, The Woodlands, 38-2. Also: 7. Chloe Lewis, Belton, 38-1¼.
*-Advanced based on fewest attempts.
#-New region record