By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (March 30, 2016) — Stephenville won’t have to leave town again for track and field until the area meet.
The Honeybees and Yellow Jackets host the Optimist Relays sponsored by the Stephenville Optimist Club on Saturday at Lem Brock Field before welcoming district rivals Abilene Wylie, Brownwood, Graham and Mineral Wells to Tarleton Memorial Stadium for the 6-4A meet April 11 and 13.
The Optimist Relays begin with field events starting at 9 a.m., the 3,200 meter run is at 10 a.m. and remaining running events – finals only – begin at noon.
Here are 5 things to know about the Optimist Relays:
1. Get there early: Stephenville takes its field events seriously. Coach Mike Copeland assured Optimist Club members at a recent luncheon that his girls team would score in virtually every field event, and so far this season, they have backed him up. The same can be said on the boys side, thanks in large part to versatile senior Josh Nowell, who placed in four field events and also ran the 4×400 relay for the Yellow Jackets at the Possum Kingdom Relays in Graham.
2. Stay until the end: Both clubs have become forces in recent seasons in the 4×400 meter relay, the finale of any organized track and field competition. The Yellow Jackets are ahead of last year’s pace and are looking to shave seconds to fight for a spot at state.
3. Internal Competition: Some of the most interesting races of the day may be the battle between two young Honeybee hurdlers. Hailey Martin is just a sophomore and Bailey McBee a freshman and both have been racking up points all season at both hurdle distances.
4. Ponder Debut?: Junior Kylee Ponder, one of the region’s top sprinters the last two seasons, has been out with a knee injury. But Ponder said earlier this week she may be able to make her season debut this weekend. She will instantly bolster the relay lineups and give the Honeybees a top contender in the 100 meter dash.
5. Chaviers Watch: This is one of the final opportunities for Stephenville fans to witness talented senior Bayleigh Chaviers, who captured state championships in the 800 meter as a freshman and sophomore. She is heading to the University of Miami (Fla.) for women’s soccer, but still has her final track and field meets and the soccer playoffs remaining at SHS.