By BRAD KEITH
Action photos courtesy Dr. CHET MARTIN
GRAHAM (April 23, 2015) — Stephenville just knows how to finish.
In the final event of the Region I-4A area track and field meet between districts 5-4A and 6-4A, the Honeybees and Yellow Jackets – much like in last week’s District 6-4A meet – the Honeybees won gold by a landslide in the 4×400-meter relay.
The Yellow Jackets would have won the mile relay, too. Except for a dropped baton between the second and third legs.
For most teams, that would have spelled doom. Stephenville isn’t most teams.
Third leg Dawson Gray picked up the baton in fifth – the Jackets were previously neck-and-neck for the lead and handed the baton to anchorman Ben Martin in a heated battle for a spot in the top four and a berth in next week’s regional.
Martin wouldn’t be denied, catching all but one runner in front of him to lift Stephenville to second place and a silver medal.
Relays led the charge throughout the running finals for Stephenville, which is sending 16 athletes on to the Region I-4A meet at Fuller Track on the campus of Texas Tech in Lubbock next Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2.
The Honeybees are sending all their relay teams on to regionals. The 4×400 team of Kylee Ponder, Mikayla Hobbs, Cassidy Cline and anchor girl Payton Wall clocked a season-best 4:09.34 to win Stephenville’s only gold medal at the event.
*Audio from Honeybee head coach Mike Copeland*
*Audio from Yellow Jacket head coach Kreg Kimple*
The 4×200 club of Ponder, Cline, Hailey Martin and Maddi Cashell was second in 1:46.58, while 4×100 team of Hobbs, Cashell, Martin and Cline finished third in 51.08 seconds. Both recorded their best times of the season.
The Yellow Jackets are sending two relay squads on to regionals after Rico Wood, Martin, Austin Stufflebean and Jose DeSaracho placed second in the 4×200 in 1:31.47. Joining Martin and Gray in the 4×400 were DeSaracho and Griffin. They finished in 3:29.65, half a second ahead of third-place Mineral Wells despite the dropped baton.
Martin, a freshman, Ponder, a sophomore, and Cashell, a senior, both triple qualified for regionals. Martin also placed second in the triple jump with a best leap of 34-5.5, Ponder finished second in the 100 in 12.45 seconds and Cashell was third in the 200 in 26.87.
Based on previous times in the 400, Ben Martin could have triple qualified, but he scratched out of the event to focus instead on the 4×200 and 4×400 meter relays. After the comeback in the 4×400, Martin said he made the right decision, realizing he needed everything in the tank to keep the relay club’s season alive.
Stufflebean raced through the 110-meter hurdles in 15.15 seconds, Cameron Reynolds heaved the shot put at 50 feet, five inches and Josh Nowell leaped a personal-best 21-3 in the long jump. All three Yellow Jackets earned silver medals.
Wall, a freshman, added another silver to the Honeybees’ medal count, placing second in the 400-meter dash in 1:01.40. Freshman Jordan Carter tied for second by clearing five feet in the high jump, but because of an FFA commitment next week, her regional spot goes to teammate Kaleigh Conger, who was fifth at 4-10.
Jon Clark Giddings fought through a quad injury to tie for third and earn a regional spot in the boys pole vault. he cleared 12 foot and scratched his remaining jumps as soon as it was clear he was safely among the top four.
Bayleigh Chaviers will not get to defend her two state titles in the 800 meter run. The junior has fought leg injuries throughout the spring semester, and though she finished and fought her way to sixth place, she was unable to approach her best time of 2:14. A healthy Chaviers would easily have moved on, as the winning time was 2:28.
“She is a picture and profile in courage,” said Copeland. “She was in so much pain but fought so hard. I’m as proud of her for the courage she showed last week (at district) and today as I was when she won those gold medals at the state track meet the last two years.”
Complete results can be found here.