COMMERCE — At the Class 4A Region II Track and Field Championships, April 27-28, at Texas A&M-Commerce, Melissa senior Cole McCraw and freshman Judson Greer came away with gold medals while Lady Cardinal freshman KayleeLewis claimed two silvers. And with each of those first- and second- place finishes comes a hard-earned trip to the state meet in Austin, May 11-12.
High-jumper McCraw out-dueled a Wills Point finalist for the title, while distance-runner Greer won the 3,200 meters and also nabbed silver in the 1,600. Lewis placed second in both the 100- and 200-meter sprints.
McCraw and Nathan Johnson both cleared 6 feet, 6 inches — the meet’s winning height and new personal record for McCraw — but McCraw was victorious due to fewer misses on the day. “He probably looked better today than I’ve ever seen him jump,” Melissa boys head coach Travis Roberson. “We came in at 5-10, which is a safe entry jump for him. When he jumped for 6-7 to tie the school record, I just think he didn’t have a lot of legs left. When we go to Austin, he’ll probably come in at 6 feet, just to save a jump later when we get to the higher heights. But if he’ll jump like he did today in Austin, he’ll get back on the medal stand.”
McCraw was the high jump bronze-medalist at last year’s state meet.
“I felt like my jumps were pretty good,” McCraw said. “I started off a little slow but then I just figured out the explosion thing that Coach [Roberson] was talking about, telling me to do — then my back, getting my hips up. … I didn’t do anything different. I treat every meet the same.”
Greer earned his 3,200-meter gold with a time of 9 minutes, 47 seconds and he earned second in the 1,600 with a time of 4 minutes, 25.17 seconds. “He ran just a really smart race [in the 3,200],” Roberson said before Greer ran the 1,600. “He was probably 14th out of 16, 300 meters in, but that was all part of the plan — for him to stay back, not get boxed in, not get tripped. Then he made the move in the last 100 meters of the first lap to go from 14th to third. Laps 5 and 6 were a little bit slow but he went on Lap 7 and the kid [from Kaufman] just couldn’t go with him. Honestly, I think he easily can take 10 seconds off of that.”
Lewis’ two silver-medals came against 2017 state-champion sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson of Dallas Carter. “It’s feels amazing,” Lewis said after the 100. “I run summer track so I’m sort of used to big meets like this, but it’s an honor running with seniors and juniors.” Lewis’ 100-meter time was 12.19 seconds and she ran a 24.66-second 200. As for Richardson, Lewis said, “She’s very fast. But I kept up with her. … I felt good. I felt very focused.”
“Reaching the state meet at any point in a high school career is a feat in its own right,” Melissa girls head coach Clay McCarter said, “but to accomplish that as a freshman makes it extra special.”
Junior sprinter Kennedy Lewis, Kaylee’s brother, won bronze in the 200-meter finals with a time of 22.03 seconds. He missed state-qualifying second place by two-tenths of a second. “Kennedy was the leader of our track team this year,” Roberson said. “His work ethic was incredible and he led by example. All of the younger kids looked up to him and followed his lead. He’s only a junior so we will have him back next year and I believe we will be even faster.”
The Lady Cards’ 4x200-meter relay team of Natalie Courtney, Sally Clemmons, Reagan Eichel and Kaycee Lewis advanced to these regionals but didn’t reach the finals. “The 4x200 relay ran a very respectable time of 1:46,” McCarter said, “but unfortunately, in our region, that just wasn’t quite enough. Those girls ran better times in that event every week of this track season so they definitely have nothing to be ashamed of. They poured their hearts out, ran hard. They just have the misfortune of being in arguably the fastest region in the state.”
Junior Lady Cardinal Susan Blake reached the shot put finals with a personal-record toss in prelims. She then threw two more PRs for an eighth-place finish. Blake had picked up the shot-put again this year after last throwing at age 12 as a Junior Olympics national champion. “I kind of knew what I was doing,” Blake said of her return, “but it’s still a new thing to actually compete in high school. It took a little while to get back in the hang of it. It was a good season.” Blake’s latest personal-best is 34 feet, 10 inches.
“She improved, I think, six feet from the start of the season till now,” McCarter said. “Obviously, for the kid to come out and do that [set three PRs] in one day is pretty special. I’m super proud of the effort she gave.”
Melissa pole vaulters Marissa Brunson and Lillian Rodgers also competed at regionals. “I was really proud of all of my regional-qualifiers,” McCarter said. “At this point I am just thankful for all my girls and I’m proud of everything they were able to do this year. I couldn’t ask for a better group.”
Other Cardinal regional competitors included:
-Jackson Scribner, 10th place, 1,600 meters
-Josh Wood, 12th place, high jump
-Matt Hahn, 12th place, 400 meters
-Cole McCraw, 13th place, triple jump
-Cale Hayes, 14th place, shot put
-Jason Baker, Kennedy Lewis, Mason Enniss, Braylon Brown, 11th place, 4x100 relay
-Kenady Markray, Cole McCraw, Jaylyn Jones, Matt Hahn, 13th place, 4x400 relay
(New school record: 3 minutes, 28.95 seconds)
Overall, the Melissa boys finished ninth out of approximately 50 teams represented at regionals, with Dallas Carter claiming first place and Atlanta and Texarkana Liberty-Eylau taking second and third, respectively. The Lady Cards placed 11th, with Dallas Carter taking the top spot, followed by Tatum and Kilgore.