By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
It may have been his birthday, but John Warren was in a giving mood.
Medaling in three of the four events he competed in, including winning gold in the triple jump, the newly minted 16-year-old Warren did his part to make it a Sweet 16 for host Killeen at the Killeen Kangaroos Relays.
"Since it's my birthday, and this is the big Killeen meet, I had to represent the Roos," said Warren, who took silver at the 4A state meet last season as a wild card.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to edge out Copperas Cove in the overall team standings, as the Bulldawgs took first place with 144 points Friday evening at Leo Buckley Stadium. Killeen was runner-up with 110, 10 points ahead of third-place Harker Heights.
Trailing Shoemaker junior Johnny Jefferson by nearly a full foot heading into the fourth and final round of jumps, the Roos sophomore reared back and went full tilt, registering a winning leap of 46 feet, 3 inches to best Jefferson's silver-medal distance of 45-8¼.
"It was really just me running off the board," Warren said. "The first few jumps I guess … I was going up instead of out, and that was limiting the jumps a little."
It was a bit of revenge for Warren, who finished third in the long jump with a distance of 21-5, a quarter of an inch behind runner-up Ramone Houston of Harker Heights while Jefferson won gold with a leap of 22-1¾.
Warren's silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles (15.02 seconds) gave the Roos a 1-2 finish in the event as teammate Anthony Watkins won with a time of 14.79, 0.48 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Otis Hudson of Shoemaker. Watkins took silver in the 300-meter hurdles (41.07) finishing two-tenths of a second behind Blake Harris of Copperas Cove.
"We were just out there having fun," said Warren, who finished fifth in the 300 hurdles. "At practice we've been going neck-and-neck and I guess this was the meet to do it."
Also winning gold for the Roos were seniors Chase Anderson in the discus (151-5½) and Victor Glaze in the high jump (6-8).
But it was Copperas Cove's night as the Bulldawgs won the team trophy thanks to gold-medal finishes in the 800 relay (1:30.48) and another in the 400 run by D'Anthony Graham (50.59), who finished third in the 200.
Running on JV last year, Brandon Hill was used to blowing away the field.
This year is no different for the Harker Heights junior sprinter, who swept the 100- and 200-meter dashes with times of 10.65 and 21.24, respectively. It was the third straight event that Hill swept both the individual sprint events.
"I ran AAU track in the summer and I had a lot of success in that, so I felt I'd have a lot of success coming back to school, I just didn't think I'd have this much success this early," Hill said.
Knights teammate Robert Sheehan took gold in the 3,200 with a time of 9:55.73, edging Ellison senior Silvester Harrison (10:08.11) on the last lap. But the Baylor-bound senior Harrison responded to win the 1,600 (4:34.97). Hector Hernandez, who will run track next year at Texas A&M, won the 800 with a time of 1:58.17 while teammate Daniel Fishbach took gold in the pole vault (12 feet).
Hicks sweeps throws as Shoe girls win Relays
With thick, white athletic tape wrapped around the bridge of her glasses, Shoemaker junior Cion Hicks looked more like a stand-in for "Revenge of the Nerds" than a state-caliber track athlete.
But by the end of the meet, the only accessory that mattered were the three gold medals draped around her neck. The junior thrower helped the Lady Grey Wolves win the girls team championship with 184 points, ahead of runner-up Killeen and Temple (138 points).
"In practice they broke. I was doing a spin and my coach was trying to help me, and my glasses fell off and she stepped on them and they cracked," Hicks said. "I got in trouble with my mom, but it's the challenges of trying to be great."
Despite dealing with broken glasses, Hicks swept the discus (128 feet, 8 inches) and shot put (44-7) events and helped lead the Lady Grey Wolves to a victory in the just-for-fun throwers relay, winning the latter without the use of her glasses.
"I couldn't see, but I knew I had to run in a straight line, so if I put one foot in front of the other I knew I'd get where I was suppose to go," said Hicks, who removed her glasses for the final 80 meters after they began to wobble on her face.
After scratching on her first two tries in the discus, Hicks nailed the gold with her final attempt of 128-8, nearly 29 feet ahead of Shoemaker teammate and silver medalist Olyvia Lee (99-10½).
With Hicks three golds, the Lady Grey Wolves' gold count topped out at nine, including three from senior Lakesha Jelks, who swept the 400- and 800-meter runs with times of 57.52 and 2:27.47, respectively, and was the second leg of Shoemaker's first-place 1,600 relay team (4:10.12). Other Lady Grey Wolves winners included Aloysia Young in the long jump (17-6½), Tyriete Dixon in the 200 (26.76), and Tearra Roberson in the 300 hurdles (45.74).
Killeen's Brittany Mitchell continued her dominance in the distance races, winning gold in the 3,200 (11:40.15) and 1,600 (5:19.00) to lead a Lady Roos contingent that took first in five events: Laderrica Degrate in the 100 (12.76), Bria McIver in the 100-meter hurdles (15.08), and the 400 relay (49.68).
Copperas Cove claimed a pair of gold medals with Brittany Johnson's 4-10 height in the high jump and the 800 relay's winning time of 1:47.52 as the team of Fabiola Andujar, Keyawana Bonner, Ciara Cheadle and Tia Blackwell bested Shoemaker by more than a full second.