AUSTIN- Two of the best female athletes from the Texas Panhandle left their mark in a major way giving an estimated crowd of 8,000 fans quite the show on Friday night under the bright lights of Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Panhandle’s Mackie Land and Wellington’s Kyla Kane ended their high school careers in stellar fashion with a medal haul that will stand for years to come.
Panhandle came within two points from repeating as UIL Class 2A state champions as Haskell rallied with 60 points to the Ettes 58 points.
However, the bitterness of a state runner-up finish didn’t compare to the joy the Ettes 1600 meter relay team felt anchored by Land, who ran against the clock more than an opponent on her final lap. Behind Land, and her team of Avery Sides, Sydney Adee, and Land’s little sister, Leah, the Ettes mile relay broke their own Class 2A meet record set a year ago blazing to a 3:55.79.
“We had the mindset of breaking our own record,” Land said. “We knew if we put in the work and tried hard enough we could do it. That’s what we wanted to accomplish more than anything and we did that.”
The 1600 meter relay was just the icing on the cake of the monster night Land put together. The Texas Tech signee and Panhandle senior flat out loves running on the big stage that the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium has to offer. Land opened her evening dominating once again in the 400 meter run clocking a time of 54.21 to win that event for the third time in a row. If it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled the state meet in 2020, more than likely Land would have been a four-time champion of the 400.
Not an hour later, Land put the pedal to the medal once again, emptying the tank for a personal-best time of 23.75 in the 200 meter run for another gold.
“At Panhandle you have a target on your back when it comes to track,” Land said. “I wanted everyone to know that last year wasn’t a one-year deal. I wanted to come back stronger and win all over again, and be even better.”
Land is following in the footsteps of great lineage at Panhandle. Her grandfather, Steve Land, was the Panhandle track coach for 23 years, leading the Panthers boys team to a state championship in 1984. The only other track team title also has the name Land attached to it in the form of Mackie last season.
“The Land name means so much to track in Panhandle,” Land said. “Both state championship banners that hang in the gym have the name Land attached to them. That is an incredible feeling.”
Kane also said goodbye to her high school career going out like she started it, on top. Kane added to an already stacked trophy case winning the 800 meter run with a time of 2:20.65. The West Texas A&M basketball signee and Wellington senior then defended her 1600 meter championship with a gutsy outing. Trailing most of the race, Kane turned it up on the final lap passing Normangee’s Cassidy Bilsing in the last 50 meters to win another gold medal with a time of 5:17.02.
“I knew I couldn’t come back and try to win this title back next year,” Kane said. “I knew this was my final high school race and there was no way I was getting second. I just gave it all I had and kicked at the right time and was able to defend my crown.”
Between Kane and Land the medals could stretch from Panhandle to Wellington. Both are seven-time state champions in their own right. Land is a seven-time state track champion claiming three of those in the 400 meter event. Kane has won three individual cross country state championships, a cross country team title, and is a three-time state track champion.
What’s to love about both competitors is through it all they are proud to be from small schools and admire representing the community that supports them.
“I had a lot of emotions running through my head,” Land said. “I know it’s not the last time I’m going to run here in Austin, but it’s the last time I’m going to run here as a member of Panhandle. It’s been amazing to be a part of.”
Kane echoed Land’s comments.
“Being an athlete at Wellington has meant everything to me,” Kane said. “Coming from a small school you have to compete in every sport. Being a Lady Skyrocket is the best thing I ever could have imagined.”
Panhandle girls track coach, Corby Maurer, and Wellington girls basketball coach, Chris Sumrall, can’t say enough about what both young ladies mean to their respective programs. Not once did either coach have to ever tell them how to put in the work to be great. Both Kane and Land just had that extra drive.
“I’m going to miss Mackie’s toughness more than anything,” Maurer said. “She’s one of the most competitive athletes I’ve ever been around. That’s what is hard to replace. Mackie is a huge part of raising the bar of our track program. There are a lot of young girls that look up to her and run for a championship.”
Like Maurer, Sumrall had high praise for his graduating senior.
“Kyla’s meant so much to Wellington but so much to me personally,” Sumrall said. “She won seven state championships over four years and went to three regional finals in basketball. What stands out the most is that I never had to ask her to go do the work. She has that mentality to go do the work and do anything to be better and make everyone around her more successful. I’ve appreciated that so much.”