AUSTIN — Both are coming home with bronze medals around their necks. But while sophomore teammate Ryan Simmons was visibly disappointed, you couldn’t wipe the smile from Salado senior Robert Emrick’s face.

That’s because it wasn’t long ago Emrick didn’t much feel like smiling.

Relegated to the sideline for most of his final prep football season after suffering two concussions in a matter of weeks early last fall, Emrick still struggled with balance, coordination and simple muscle memory entering the start of track season.

“The main part was mentally being able to take back control of my muscles and start lifting weights again and start getting everything firing, getting technique down,” Emrick said. “It turned out to be a pretty good year after all.”

Emrick capped his career with a throw of 54-feet, 9½ inches on his final attempt to win bronze in the 3A boys shot put Saturday at the UIL State Track and Field meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

“It feels great. I finally got a chance to show what I could do, show some colleges what I could do, (and now) I’ve got something to prove it (when) I take it home,” said Emrick, who also finished eighth in the discus (146-10).

Simmons, who struggled all day with his form and finished fifth in the shot (53-11½), took bronze in the boys discus with a toss of 162-9, despite throwing well below his regional qualifying distance of 177.

“It’s a good feeling to have a medal, I’m happy about that, but I would have been feeling a little better if I could have gotten in the 170s, even if I still got third,” Simmons said.

Eagles miss medal in 400 relay

Despite entering with the state’s ninth-best qualifying time, the Salado boys 400-meter relay team nevertheless had lofty goals.

“Our one goal was to get on the stand. The next goal was to break 42 (seconds) and we got one, so that’s all that counts,” said senior Austin Silver who runs the third leg of the relay.

Despite a misstep on the final handoff between Silva and senior anchor Peyton Best, the Eagles finished fourth in a school-record time of 41.97 seconds, eclipsing the previous mark of 42.57.

“We were aiming for a medal, and we came up a little short, (but) we still broke out school record,” said Best.

After lead leg Joe Owens broke the stagger early, the Eagles maintained a solid hold on third and fourth entering the final exchange.

But with the crowd screaming, an excited Best broke too soon and had to come back to take the handoff from Silva, costing the team valuable milliseconds.

“(We’ve got) nothing to hang our heads about, that was an accomplishment in itself,” said junior Reece Nicholson who runs the second leg.

Owens also was eighth in the 3A boys 200-meter dash at 22.75 seconds while Salado sophomore Ashley Adams faded late and took eighth in the girls 1,600-meter run.

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