The Melissa Lady Cardinals were well represented at the UIL Region II-3A Track & Field Championship. Sixteen Lady Cards competed for the team, which placed eighth overall.
The weekend was highlighted by the 800m run which saw freshman Elise Hawn qualify for the state meet by placing second in a field of 16 runners. She broke her personal record and own school record by four seconds in running a 2:20.89.
"That was a very special performance by Elise," Melissa coach Michael Bardgett said. "She has been a real competitor this year, in that she has risen to the level of her competition each race. What made Saturday especially difficult was that she played a soccer game at 1 p.m. in Dallas, then had to rush over for her 4:20 p.m. start time.
"Seeing her before the race I wasn’t sure she had anything left, but I guess she found an extra gear we didn’t know she had. It was also a fairly savvy race for a freshman," added Bardgett. "With 16 runners on the track the field was really tight the first lap and she was boxed into lane 1. But with one swift move she vaulted her way through the wall and was able to reach the leaders by the end of the first lap. After that it came down to who wanted it more and she did what it took to qualify. It’ll be interesting to see what she can do at state without having to play a soccer game before the race."
Meanwhile, distance runner Ashley New was busy completing a historic double for Melissa. New became the first competitor in Melissa’s history to medal in two events at back-to-back regional track meets. Last year, she placed second in the 3200 and third in the 1600, while this year she placed third in both.
"I’m really proud of that accomplishment. Nobody works harder than Ashley on a day-by-day, week by week basis, and that consistency shined through," Bardgett said. "She didn’t run as well as we had hoped, but it’s neat to see that even without a special performance she was still head and shoulders above the rest of the field. I’m sure she’s disappointed that she didn’t make it back to state this year, but someday she’ll look back and realize just how special this performance was. She set the standard for Melissa runners."
Also placing for the Lady Cardinals were Ally Terry in the pole vault (6th), Jackii Thomas in the 3200 (5th) and the 4x400 relay team of Ashley Henger, Elise Hawn, Sophie Bennett, and Kailey Burton, which placed fifth.
"It was great to see Ally do well in her last performance for Melissa. This was the second straight year she has placed top 6 at the regional meet," Bardgett said. "For Jackii, just being able to finish the year without injury was an accomplishment, so competing at Regionals in two events and placing top six in one is icing on the cake.
"And I couldn’t be more proud of the mile relay team," added Bardgett. "Last year, we didn’t even make it to finals at the 2A meet in Stephenville. After that race they all made commitments to each other that they would do whatever it took to change that this year. Not only did they make finals, but they actually placed at the Regional meet and dropped the school record time by seven seconds. I’m very proud of them."
Also competing for the Lady Cardinals at the meet were: Erin Nelson (100 Hurdles) who ran her season best time, Hannah Tenny and Haley Weisinger in the pole vault, who each broke their own PR’s by a foot, Kambri Gabel in the 3200 and 1600, Bridie Burchett in the discus, Whitney Taylor and Kelsey Smith in the shot put, Stephanie Deblois in the high jump, and Madison Rose in the long jump and triple jump.
The Cardinals finish the year as district and area champions and have sent a competitor to the state meet for six consecutive years. Hawn will compete at the State Track Meet on May 11 at Mike A Myers track stadium in Austin. The 800 is scheduled to start at 6:20 p.m.