By Clay Fowler
Killeen Daily Herald
The Shoemaker boys track team favored safe over sorry in Wednesday's District 13-5A track meet in Temple. Accordingly, coach Cliff Bluntson loaded his 400- and 800-meter relay teams with all the speed his team possessed, even at the expense of other events.
With second-place finishes, each advanced to the April 28-29 regional meet at Baylor University.
"That's been our strength all year, so we put all our marbles into those two relays," said Bluntson. "We held some people out of other events because we didn't want to jeopardize the relays."
The team of seniors Jamaal Skipper and Contrevious Parks, junior Antwan Gibbs and freshman Derrick Mayes finished the 400-meter relay in 41.65 seconds, Shoemaker's fastest time of the season. Copperas Cove, whom Shoemaker defeated at the Roo Relays in the team's only previous meeting this season, won by nine tenths of a second on Wednesday.
Parks qualified for the 100-meter final, but cautiously pulled out of the event that preceded the 800-meter relay because of muscle soreness.
Parks went on to anchor the 800-meter relay team of Chris Poullard, Skipper and Mays, which finished in 1:27.78, another season-best time for SHS. Cove took the 800-meter relay district title, edging SHS by .63 seconds.
"I breathed a sigh of relief when we qualified those two teams," said Bluntson.
Two years removed from consecutive district team titles, Bluntson was less than thrilled with the team's sixth-place finish.
SHS' largest shortcoming was the zero points in field events. "I'm used to getting 60 points in those," said Bluntson.
But with fourth-place finishes by the JV and freshman boys, not to mention the young stable already on varsity, the future is looking up.
Several girls treking to regionals
At the District 13-5A track meet on Wednesday, the girls track team qualified four individuals and two relay teams for regionals on its way to a sixth-place team finish.
Tabbitha Ashford finished second in the two-mile (11:58.27) qualifying the All-State cross country runner for the April 28-29 regional meet at Baylor University. Ashford fell twice in a rough mile run, the second knocking her out of the race. But teammate and fellow All-State cross country runner Lacey Morrison, who will go to regionals after a third place in the 800 (2:20.19), finished fifth (5:47.19) in the mile.
"(Ashford) got pushed three times and she fell twice (in the mile)," girls track coach Karen Koehler said. "And I think Lacey just got freaked out in the mile after Tabbitha fell the last time. She didn't have her running partner."
Morrison anchored the third-place 800-meter relay team of Vanessa Jackson, Cita Medina and Kenyetta Fusilier (1:44.08), which came from behind on the final leg to edge fourth-place Cove by .16 seconds.
"Lacey just out-leaned the girl at the finish," said Koehler. "She ran a really smart race to catch her."
Makesha Brewer, who qualified for regionals with a third place in the 400 (59.86), was a member of the third-place mile relay team (4:04.29) with Natasja Hopson, Denise Brown and Jackson.
Sophomore Mirhonika Wilson's discus throw of 120-1 earned her second place and trip to regionals. She threw 8-2 further than the third-place finisher.
Player of the week:
Anchored both regional-bound 400- and 800-meter relays at the district track meet on Wednesday.
Statistic of the week: .2 seconds
Margin by which the girls track team missed sending its 400-meter relay team to regionals, joining the 800- and 1,600-meter relays in Waco.