COMMERCE — Seven Melissa athletes punched their tickets to the Class 4A state track and field meet with stellar performances at the Class 4A Region II meet at Texas A&M-Commerce, April 28-29. To advance to state, athletes must finish first or second in their regional-meet events. Lady Cardinals representing Melissa in Austin will be seniors Priscilla Adejokun, Maddie Kane and Karrington Lewis. The four qualifying Cardinals are senior Elijah Mackey, senior Gunnar Murphy, junior Cole McCraw and freshman Ja’Bray Young.


As a team, Melissa’s girls finished third in a 33-team field, behind only Dallas Carter and Atlanta. The boys claimed third as well, in a field of 32, behind only Carter and Texarkana Liberty-Eylau.


Adejokun won the regional shot put championship with a gold-medal throw of 44 feet, 11.25 inches.


“I’m really happy,” she said. “I can’t wait to do better. And I can’t wait to do this again at the collegiate level.”


Adejokun said going back to state will allow her to catch up with friends from past meets.


“I enjoy seeing them all,” she said. “We update each other on Snapchat. It’s really great.”


Adejokun also placed fifth in the discus with a throw of 121 feet, 2 inches.


Kane surged late to claim the regional title in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 45.27 seconds.


“It feels amazing,” she said just after crossing the finish line. “The race kind of fell into place. I was waiting to see when I could take my spot then something just came over me and I just took off. I started not as good as I wanted to but then I finished really strong, so I’m happy.”


Lewis claimed silver in the 100-meter dash with a school-record time of 12.03 seconds.


“This is my first time going [to state] in an individual [event],” she said. “And, it’s my senior year so it’s really special. I felt really good. I’ve been trying to work on my start and I felt like it was a lot better than normal. Everything just went well.”


“I’m thankful for our girls,” girls head coach Theodore Mackey III said. “Maddie, she’s had an amazing career an amazing season. She had a few setbacks earlier in the year and she overcame them. She’ll run faster at state. … (Karrington) has worked very hard to get to state. And she finally gets there in an individual qualifying event. She’s been there before on the mile relay. I’m super excited for her. … One thing about Priscilla is she doesn’t get too high on a win and she doesn’t get too low on what most of mankind would call a loss. In her case, that’s just her maybe not placing in the top three. I’m super proud of her and for the woman she is.”


Mackey also had these words for senior Gill Gray, who finished fifth in the 400 meters.


“I’m especially proud for her. She will not be going back to state this year but she is a decorated state-qualifying athlete in the quarter[-mile], as well as in the mile relay. She had a great career and is just a great kid. I pray the best for her and her future.”


Mackey also highlighted the performance of senior Bryanna Hernandez, who placed fourth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.39 seconds.


“She ran an amazing time,” he said. “She was right there. In another region, she might have qualified for state.”


Melissa’s 400-meter relay team of Gray, Kane, Lewis and Erin Eichel placed fourth.


“Today, we went four [minutes] flat against a tough field,” Mackey said. “We gave our best today and that’s all you can ask from the girls.”


On the boys’ side, head coach Travis Roberson had a lot to like as well.


“It’s awesome,” he said of his charges’ performances.“We’re going to finish third overall as a team at the regional meet, by far the highest place we’ve ever had. We ended up right at 60 points, which is more than double any points we’ve ever scored at the regional meet. We’ve got four boys going to the state meet, which is twice as many as we’ve ever had. So, it was a great weekend. I felt like we were really a year away from what we got done this weekend. We’re going to be even better next year, I believe.”


Mackey claimed gold in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.


“I’m pretty excited,” he said prior to climbing the medal stand a second time. “I went in this year to win and I’m pretty pumped about it. It felt pretty smooth, honestly.” As for the gusty conditions, Mackey said, “I’m not going to lie, it was pretty strong on the back side.”


His time in the 1,600 was 4 minutes, 29.58 seconds, and 9 minutes, 41.25 seconds in the 3,200.


“He is a joy to coach,” Coach Mackey said of his son, “but he’s also a joy to parent. “I love him, I’m thankful for him. … I may be biased, but I can see him running in the Olympics one day.”


Young earned a silver medal in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, shattering school records in each race. His 100-meter time of 10.8 seconds missed gold by just three one-hundredths of a second. His 200 time was 21.59.


“It’s unbelievable, and surprising,” he said of his achievement. “I’m very happy that I have a chance to do something. … I knew I had a chance to do it so I just went out there and competed. I was thinking don’t give up on my form and keep running fast.”


McCraw won the regional high-jump championship, clearing a gold-medal height of 6 feet, .05 inches. Murphy was a silver-medal state-qualifier in the shot put with toss of 51 feet, 5.5 inches.


“I’m excited to go back,” the now three-time state-qualifier said. “I lost by a quarter of an inch today, so I’ll be looking for revenge, that’s for sure. … [Conditions] weren’t great, but they weren’t awful either.”


Senior Gabe Rodriguez took fourth in the pole vault competition, clearing a school-record 14 feet, and Jackson Scribner placed fifth in the 3,200 meters in a time of 10 minutes, 15.84 seconds.