Canyon Lady Eagles claims second UIL State Track Championship in past four years

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Canyon’s Whitney Willeford, from left, and teammate Abree Winfrey celebrate after winning the gold medal in the 1600 meter relay during the UIL Class 4A State Track and Field Championships on Thursday night at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. [Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports]
AUSTIN- The Canyon girls started the year strong, and ended even stronger.

The Lady Eagles stacked up 70 to bring home their second UIL Class 4A state championship trophy since 2019 on Thursday night during the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium. 

“What can you say about this team,” Canyon head girls track coach Ray Baca said. “I’m just so proud of each and every one of them. They all knew they had to get points today, they all knew the mission at hand. I’m just so thrilled of what we accomplished. I also can’t thank the support system we have. You see how many people showed up. Canyon is just awesome.”

Abree Winfrey and Hannah Stewart led the way. For a second straight year Winfrey stood out leaving the track with a handful of medals. Winfrey was in on a total of 38 of Canyon’s points, winning her second straight gold in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:14.42, then a silver in the 300-meter hurdles (44.10). 

However, it was the juniors performance in the 1600 meter relay that stood alone. Whitney Willeford handed off the stick to Winfrey on the final lap. Winfrey trailed Kennedale’s Gracyn Reed by close to 25 meters, but by the final 100 meters of the race, Winfrey caught Reed, and passed her in an exciting finish giving Canyon the gold medal with an eye-opening time of 3:56.05.

“I wasn’t going to get two silver medals,” Winfrey said. “I knew I had to finish. We worked so hard to get here, and we weren’t leaving without a gold medal in the mile relay or a state championship, and that’s what we accomplished. 

Winfrey now has five gold medals over the past two seasons. 

Stuart was equally important getting 16 points for her team Thursday. The sophomore started the morning earning her first silver medal running a personal-best 10:51.17 to get a silver and eight key points in the 3200 meter run. During the night session, Stuart won her second silver medal, as well as eight more points in the 1600 meter run with a time of 4:59.57.

“I was really happy with how I ran,” Stuart said. “But I was more excited to help get points for my team that could help us win a state championship. It was just an awesome experience.”

Willeford helped score points in the long jump, Kashlee Dickison won a silver in the pole vault clearing 13-feet, and freshman Avery Brown gained key points in the 1600 meter run. Overall, Baca said it was a complete team effort. 

“It was just a fun day,” Baca said. “Hannah set a personal-record in both her events, Avery Brown ran a new personal-best. Abree even set a new personal mark in the 300-hurdles. Every point contributed to what we did to win this. We lost some points then we gained some points. I am just so proud.”

Ironically, last season Canyon scored 70 points and came in as state runner-up. This time around the 70 points were exactly what they needed to win the coveted second state title. 

“I had never seen a team score 70 points and lose before,” Baca said. “That was a shock because we had a perfect meet last year. Then this year, our goal was 66 points, and we got 70.”

 

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