Amarillo High boys, Randall girls highlight Region 1-5A meet

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Amarillo High’s Jameson Garcia was a part of the 400 and 800 meter relays that qualified for state during the Region I-5A Track and Field Championships on Saturday in Lubbock. [David Erickson/ Press Pass Sports]

 

LUBBOCK – Randall girls and Amarillo High boys were the lone two Class 5A track teams from the Amarillo-area wearing smiles leaving the UIL Region I-5A Track and Field Championships Saturday.

Those two programs were the lone twosome moving athletes to the prestigious UIL state track meet in early May as the two-day competition was elite at the Plains Capital Park at Lowrey Field.

The top two finishers in each event, along with one wild card from the four regions in Texas, qualify for the state meet.

Amarillo High made a bid to win the Region I boys team title setting school records in the 400-meter (41.36) and 800-meter relay (1:26.15) teams advancing both to state, while speedster Tyreese Molden won the 200 and long distance star Isaac McGill doubled his pleasure winning the 3200 (on Friday) and placing second in the 1600 (Saturday).

That Sandies effort moving five athletes to state – Molden leading the way in three events – scored 74 team points, good for second place in the region, six points behind first place Mansfield Timberview.

AHS coach Steve Bergeski was all smiles over his teams’ record-setting effort.

“I’m super proud of this group,” Bergeski said. “We had a lot of great senior leadership and some great performances from everyone who competed. We qualified everything we thought we could and had multiple PRs and school records. I’m excited to see what we can do at the state meet.”

The Randall girls moved three athletes onto state in four events with dominate 800 and 1600 runner Cameron McConnell and gritty long distance runner senior Ariyah Gomez leading the way going in two events each.

Randall’s Alex Bettag handled a crazy 100-meter hurdle race where it seemed like hurdles were flying around her and punched her second consecutive trip to state with a runner-up effort.

These effort meant Randall girls had a great day finishing second in the team race with 63 points. Mansfield Timberview won the meet with 112 points.

Here’s a closer look at the day.

Amarillo High’s Tyreese Molden advanced to state in three events at the Region I-5A meet in Lubbock on Saturday. [David Erickson/ Press Pass Sports]

AHS relay motivated by second place

The Amarillo High 400 and 800 relays consist of the same four runners in Xavier Landry, Tyreese Molden, Johnquarius Ervin and anchor Jameson Garcia.

Even though the foursome blazed a 41.37 Saturday placing and set the school record at 41.36 in Friday’s prelims, by placing second to Timberview’s 41.13 these weren’t four happy campers.

“I feel like losing that first race and finishing second the 800 was a bounce back race for us,” said Ervin. “We just ran our hardest.”

“What clicked for us today was when lost the 4X1,” said Molden. “We were upset.”

“We have a special group here,” said junior anchor Jameson, who skipped running the 100-meter finals to keep healthy for the 800 Relay. “You don’t see Amarillo these deep that much so you have to make the most out of it. We were little upset about getting second, so we wanted to go.”

Go they did, pretty much running a flawless 800-meter leading most of the way and finishing with the school record 1:26.15 and easily beating second place Aledo (1:27.09).

“This is special for all of us,” Jameson said. “We wanted to get both these relays to state.”

And yes, when asked straight up if they can go lower, “for sure,” Landry said.

Mr. Smooth Molden

Amarillo High senior Tyreese Molden looked the picture of cool winning the 200-meters in a personal best 21.25.

Molden was out quick in the blocks, ran a strong corner and then had things under control down the straightaway leading the group to the finish line.

Molden’s plan was to make sure he wasn’t left behind in the blocks.

“I liked my start,” Molden said. “I knew the dude on my right from El Paso Chapin (Matthew Polk) was second in the prelims and I wanted to get him right off the bat. I was able to do that. I wanted three golds, but two will work.”

Molden left Lubbock on Saturday with a nice haul of medals winning gold in the 200, 800 Relay and silver in the 400 Relay.

Randall’s Cameron McConnell won the 800 and 1600 meter races at the Region I-5A meet in Lubbock on Saturday. [David Erickson/ Press Pass Sports]

Run, Cameron, Run

Easily one of the most impressive runners during the Region I-5A meet was Randall senior Cameron McConnell.

McConnell, the Class 5A girls state cross country champion, easily won the 800 and 1600-meter runs dominating the races from start to finish.

In the 800, McConnell went out with a 63 second first lap, leading by 15 yards and settled on a time of 2:09.18, winning by a hefty 6.6 seconds.

Then in the 1600, McConnell opened with 68 first lap, and by the midway mark led by 13 seconds. McConnell won in a time of 4:58.37, almost 18 seconds in front of second place Randall teammate Ariyah Gomez.

McConnell, owner of a gorgeous running stride, ran much of both races by herself and has learned a trick to keep her focused when she runs.

“I honestly talk to myself to keep myself in check,” McConnell said. “I just always count the laps. So like after the first lap I’m like ‘only three more.’ It’s just a thing I do. Some days when I have bad races I notice I didn’t talk to myself.”

McConnell’s bad races are career races for some. Still, she knows running at state will take a whole new level of effort.

“It’s going to be great against like eight other girls who are really fast,” McConnell said. “I’m happy. I was hoping to get a season-best time but I know it will come at state.”

Amarillo High’s Isaac McGill punched his ticket to state winning the 3200 and finishing second in the 1600 meter run at the Region I-5A meet in Lubbock. [David Erickson/ Press Pass Sports]

Run, Isaac, Run

Amarillo High senior Isaac McGill opened his Region I-5A meet with an impressive win in the 3200 on Saturday, running a strong last two laps winning in 9:15.81.

McGill, a thinking young man, punched another ticket to state Saturday placing second in the 1600-meter with a personal best 4:17.58.

The race was a crowded one as McGill was in traffic and pinned on the inside for much of the race. He sat in 15th place after the first lap, sixth after two laps and used kick on the final lap to earn the trip to state.

“I was freaked out the whole race,” said McGill, who signed with Portland University. “The race strat was sit and kick. And that’s not like me I’m usually not the guy to be sitting and kicking. I was pretty antsy the whole time.

“All I wanted to do was have fun and try and qualify for state. To be honest this is the cherry on top. The 3200 is my race. I love that race. Obviously, I won that yesterday but if I didn’t make it in the 1600 I was cool with that, too. So this was the cherry.”

Bettag back at state in a “loud” hurdles race

Randall senior Alex Bettag has been a mission since day one of the track season: Get back to state.

Mission accomplished on Saturday.

Bettag placed second in 100-meter hurdles with a 15.17. She had placed seventh at state last year.

Saturday’s race got a little crazy as several hurdlers hit and knocked off hurdles during her race, one athlete tumbling to the track.

But Bettag, to her credit, kept her focus and finished .18 seconds ahead of third place senior Masaratu Sheriff of Caprock.

“It was a wild race,” Bettag said. “Starting off we all right there together. When e got to five and six (hurdles), I could definitely hear people hitting hurdles. It was a crazy race. In my head I’m thinking that’s when I push harder.”

Bettag still had to focus until the finish line as she had company. And plenty of it.

“The end was very tough because I could see everybody in my peripheral,” Bettag said. “The hardest part of the race is seeing people and then its an all-gut race to the end.”

Bettag said she wants to change last year’s state meet experience.

“From making it last year I wanted to go back and they say it’s hardest to make it back after you already went,” Bettag said. “So I was definitely nervous today with the other girls times so close to mine. Friday (prelims) was probably my worst race (hitting an early hurdle). So I definitely redeemed myself.”

Close but …

Several Amarillo-area athletes saw their dream of state just fall short with third place finishes.

Caprock’s Sheriff was .35 seconds away from state in the 100-meter hurdles to Bettag.

But let’s just there is no shame in third place when you don’t succumb to the pressure of the regional meet.

For instance, Randall senior Kailee Benton was third in the long jump but put up a person best leap of 17 feet, 11 inches.

Then, how about Amarillo High junior Noah Watt. He placed sixth in the 800-meter run clocking a 1:58.65. That’s not only a personal best, but the fastest 800 run in the Texas Panhandle this year.

The UIL state meet is the goal at these regional meets, but sometimes doing your best deserves credit even if it doesn’t earn you a golden ticket to state.

The UIL Class 5A state track meet is set for Friday, May 13, at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

For full results of the Region I-5A track meet, please visit, http://www.spato.us/results/hs2022/lubbreg/

Region I-5A Amarillo-area state qualifiers

Girls

100 meters

No qualifiers

200 meters

No qualifiers

400 meters

No qualifiers

800 meters

Cameron McConnell, Randall, 2:09.18

1600 meters

Cameron McConnell, Randall, 4:48.47

Ariyah Gomez, Randall, 5:16.44

3200 meters

Ariyah Gomez, Randall, 11:37.02

100 hurdles

Alex Bettag, Randall, 15.17

300 hurdles

No qualifiers

400 Relay

No qualifiers

800 Relay

No qualifiers

1600 Relay

No qualifiers

High Jump

No qualifiers

Long jump

No qualifiers

Triple jump

No qualifiers

Pole Vault

No qualifiers

Discus

No qualifiers

Shot Put

No qualifiers

Boys

100 meters

No qualifiers

200 meters

Tyreese Molden, Amarillo High, 21.25

400 meters

No qualifiers

800 meters

No qualifiers

1600 meters

Isaac McGill, Amarillo High, 4:17.58

3200 meters

Isaac McGill, Amarillo High, 9:15.81

110 hurdles

No qualifiers

300 hurdles

No qualifiers

400 Relay

Amarillo High (Xavier Landry, Tyreese Molden, Johnquarius Ervin, Jameson Garcia), 41.37

800 Relay

Amarillo High (Xavier Landry, Tyreese Molden, Johnquarius Ervin, Jameson Garcia), 1:26.15

1600 Relay

No qualifiers

High Jump

No qualifiers

Long jump

No qualifiers

Triple jump

No qualifiers

Pole Vault

No qualifiers

Discus

No qualifiers

Shot Put

No qualifiers

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