By BRAD KEITH
Editor’s Note: Check back Wednesday morning as The Flash will publish photo galleries courtesy Dr. Chet Martin.
GRAHAM (April 14, 2015) — Save your best for last, they said.
They said right.
The Stephenville boys and girls relay teams saved their best for last at the District 6-4A Track & Field Meet at Steer Stadium Tuesday, concluding the two-day event with convincing wins in the 4×400 meter, considered by many fans to be the sport’s trademark event.
“There’s no better way to end a track meet than by winning the 4×400,” said Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor member and Honeybee head coach Mike Copeland. “We’ve been working so hard all year and haven’t had everybody, and to come out here and win that event to end the district meet, that’s the way you want to finish.”
Freshman Payton Wall took the baton in second place beginning the anchor leg, but raced to the front of the pack on the back stretch and finished several meters ahead of second place Abilene Wylie.
Not to be outdone, the Stephenville boys took the lead for good on the third leg – run by Dawson Gray – and anchor man Ben Martin made sure nobody had a chance to catch up.
“That’s the one I’ve been waiting on,” said Yellow Jackets head coach Kreg Kimple, referring to the race he’s wanted to see his 4×400 club run all year. “We’ve gotten better each week, and that’s what I wanted was for the guys to run their best time of the year at district. A week ago we were in the high 3:28’s, and now we’re in the low 3:28’s, so we’re peaking at the right time and that’s exactly what you want.”
Stephenville won a total of five events at the two-day event, and is sending competitors on to next week’s area meet – between 5-4A and 6-4A on Thursday, April 23, also at Steer Stadium – in 10 girls events and eight boys events. The Yellow Jackets won three event titles, the Honeybees two.
Running the girls 4×400 along with Wall were Kylee Ponder, Mikayla Hobbs and Cassidy Cline. Joining Martin and Gray for the boys were Jose DeSaracho and Tyler Griffin.
Austin Stufflebean provided one of the Tuesday’s best finishes, coming from behind to win the boys 110 meter hurdles.
“He’s behind coming off the last hurdle and comes from behind to win, what a performance,” said a beaming Kimple. “And it wasn’t the only one we had. We have great competitors and they did just that, they came out here and competed with everything they had to give for two days.”
Jon Clark Giddings won the boys pole vault at 13-6 for the other boys title, while Cameron Reynolds advanced to area by placing second in the discus and third in the shot put and Josh Nowell is moving on in the long jump. Martin is advancing in three total events, having also placed second in the 400 and teaming up with Nico Wood, Stufflebean and Jose DeSaracho to place second in the 4×200 relay.
“From Stufflebean in the hurdles to Jon Clark, Josh and Cam in the field and even our 4×200 that ran well, I’m just proud of all these guys,” said Kimple. “They’ve been working hard all year and that’s all you want is for them to get a chance to see that pay off and we did.”
Wall wasn’t the only Honeybee freshman turning heads, as Hailey Martin won the the triple jump with a best distance of 33 feet, 9.75 inches, and Kristen Pettit claimed an area berth by placing fourth in the 300 meter hurdles.
“We had some freshmen really step up and compete well, and that’s hard to do on this stage,” said Copeland.
Wall also advanced to area by placing second in the 400 meter, and sophomore Kylee Ponder was second in the 100. Maddi Cashell was third in the 200 while Jordan Carter third and Kaleigh Conger fourth in the high jump.
All three Honeybee relays are area bound. The 4×100 team of Hobbs, Cline, Cashell and Skylar Chipman was second, while the 4×200 team of Ponder, Taylor Garber, Chipman and Cashell finished third.
Bayleigh Chaviers is the two-time defending state champ in the girls 800 meter, but between soccer and nagging leg injuries, was racing for the first time at the district meet. Despite obvious pain from the start, she managed to finish fourth and claim an area spot, keeping alive her title defense.
“Bayleigh is the most fierce competitor I’ve ever been around in all my years of coaching. Seeing her struggle to run absolutely broke my heart, but she also made me so proud because of the way she finished,” said Copeland. “We have a week now to continue her rehab and try to get her ready for the area meet. Everybody around here who knows anything about track and field knows what Bayleigh represents for this area and really what she means to this sport across the state.”
Below are places and times/distances for area competitors. Complete results are available by visiting www.euroliveresults.com/04131415.
Stephenville boys (advancing to area):
4×400 – 1st – Jose DeSaracho, Tyler Griffin, Dawson Gray, Ben Martin – 3:28.27
110 Hurdles – 1st – Austin Stufflebean – 15.48
Pole Vault – 1st – Jon Clark Giddings – 13-6
4×200 – 2nd – Nico Wood, Ben Martin, Austin Stufflebean, Jose DeSaracho – 1:32.30
400 – 2nd – Ben Martin – 52.44
Discus – 2nd – Cameron Reynolds – 147-02
Shot Put – 3rd – Cameron Reynolds – 51-00
Long Jump – 3rd – Josh Nowell – 20-00
4×400 – 1st – Kylee Ponder, Mikayla Hobbs, Cassidy Cline, Payton Wall – 4:13
Triple Jump – 1st – Hailey Martin – 33-9.75
100 – 2nd – Kylee Ponder – 12.56
400 – 2nd – Payton Wall – 1:02.52
4×100 – 2nd – Mikayla Hobbs, Cassidy Cline, Maddi Cashell, Skylar Chipman – 51.69
4×200 – 3rd – Kylee Ponder, Taylor Garber, Skylar Chipman, Maddi Cashell – 1:48.32
200 – 3rd – Maddi Cashell – 27.10
High Jump – 3rd – Jordan Carter – 5-0
High Jump – 4th – Kaleigh Conger – 5-0
800 – 4th – Bayleigh Chaviers – 2:31.29
300 Hurdles – 4th – Kristen Pettit – 49.22