VAN ALSTYNE – The Anna boys’ and girls’ track teams each took third place in a talented eight-team field on March 5 at the Van Alstyne Panther Relays. The Lady Coyotes posted gold-medal finishes in two sprint relays, an individual sprint event and a distance race, while the Coyotes earned first-place honors in one distance race and one field event.
Van Alstyne won the overall boys’ title with 126 points - eight points ahead of Aubrey - and Aubrey’s girls bested their field with 134 points, 32 up on Caddo Mills.
For the Lady Coyotes, the 4-by-400-meter relay team of Hayleigh Wagner, Sydney Wagner, Baleigh Foster and Ashlynn Pitts claimed gold with a time of 4 minutes, 20.54 seconds. In the 4-by-200 relay, Pitts, Raina Stewart, Sydney Wagner and Hayleigh Wagner finished first with a time of 1 minute, 50.7 seconds. Aimee Landers-Wilburn won in the 1,600 meters, completing the race in 5 minutes, 53.15 seconds while Stewart bested the 200-meter field with a time of 26.94 seconds.
Other Anna girls point-getters at Van Alstyne included:
Landers-Wilburn; third, 800 meters; 2 minutes, 36.22 seconds.
Foster; third, 200 meters; 27.59 seconds
Yumiko Adams; fourth, 100 meters; 13.57 seconds
Foster; sixth, triple jump; 28 feet, 6.5 inches.
Shalicia Young, Vanessa Morin, Adams, Foster; sixth, 4-by-100 relay; 53.9 seconds
“We’re really shaping up to be competitive as a team,” Lady Coyotes head coach Scott O’Connor said during the meet. “We have some girls stepping in some new events. That’s been really exciting for us as a team for people to be selfless and say, ‘I’ll do this for you, Coach.’ They’re doing a lot of things for the team.
“We’ve got a lot of girls in the mile [1,600] that will be able to be competitive, and in the 400. We have some surprises as well in the 200.” Last year, the Lady Coyotes’ 4-by-400 and 4-by-200 relay teams qualified for regionals. Returning runners from those teams are Hayleigh Wagner and the currently injured Bre Traylor. “Hayleigh’s been great, just kind of a good glue for the sprinting program,” O’Connor said. “And we look forward to Bre returning in the relays and her open events.”
Regarding other returning Lady sprinters - Foster, Stewart, Adams and Sydney Wagner - he added, “They’ve definitely added a lot of leadership and speed.”
Araceli Ortiz, who came over from wrestling, has been another bright spot, O’Connor said. Sydney Wagner will also get a look in the hurdles.
This year’s relay teams are still work in progress, O’Connor said. “In the 4-by-400, we have a lot of talent right there.”
Besides Hayleigh Wagner, that team for now includes Sydney Wagner, Foster and the freshman Pitts. “Ashlynn has just been amazing,” O’Connor said. “She’s a surprise for us. She came in from basketball and has just been fantastic. … She has been so consistent and so strong throughout this season.”
In the distance events, Landers-Wilburn and Caroline Boykin will lead the way. Boykin, a 2019 regional qualifier in the 1,600 and 3,200, is injured at this time.
“Aimee’s putting together a great season so far,” O’Connor said. “I’m really happy with how she’s progressing. I threw her in the 800 today to make her uncomfortable.” He noted that the 1,600 and 3,200 are her “bread and butter.” In field events, O’Connor pointed to Stewart in the long jump. “She’s been doing a really good job and progressing well,” he said. “We’re going to see what she can do in districts and hopefully qualify her out.”
And Foster, he noted, will be a key player in the triple jump.
As for shot put and discus, O’Connor said, “A lot of our softball girls have been stepping up and coming out,” noting Gabby Gebert and Qua Fisher, in particular.
“Gabby did well at our meet last week. They didn’t have throws today [due to muddy conditions]. We’re wanting to see her throw again. … [Fisher] did well last year and surprised a lot of people. Softball tournament-season right now has taken her away but after Spring Break we’ll see her at some meets before districts.”
In the high jump, O’Connor said Rachel Goade is showing promise.
“She’s kind of just been a wild card for us but she’s doing a great job. She’s done a lot of things individually to kind of get ready and had a really good opener at our Anna meet. I think she may be able to contend throughout the year. We’re excited to see what she can do.”
Gentry, Hernandez lead Coyotes
Long jumper Zay Gentry knocked out a first-place leap of 20 feet, 9 inches, for the Coyotes at Van Alstyne, while David Hernandez took gold in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10 minutes, 46.02 seconds.
Other point-getters for the Anna boys included:
Geer, Gentry, Stanley Bardere, Derek Calles; second, 4-by-200 relay; 1 minute, 35.79 seconds
Micah Massingill; third, 3,200 meters; 11 minutes, 21.37 seconds
Josh Clark; third, 800 meters; 2 minutes, 11.26 seconds
Bryce Wetzel; third, 1600 meters; 5 minutes, 7.15 seconds
Geer, Gentry, Calles, Brayden Ragsdale; third, 4-by-100 relay; 45.4 seconds
Geer; fourth, long jump; 19 feet, 3.5 inches - Ragsdale; fourth, 100 meters; 11.34 seconds
Chris Lendvay; fourth, 3,200 meters; 11 minutes, 37.3 seconds - Arthur Nwokorie; 100 meters, fifth; 11.61 seconds
Justin Muthaka; fifth, 200 meters; 24.17 seconds - Gentry; fifth, triple jump; 35 feet, 7.75 inches
Ragsdale; sixth, triple jump; 35 feet, 4.25 inches
Adrian Lopez, Cayden Parrott, Muthaka, Bardere; sixth, 4-by-400 relay; 3 minutes, 51.67 seconds
“So far, it’s going OK,” Coyotes head coach Jeremy Patton said of the season. “Obviously, we’ve got lots of room for improvement. Now that we’ve got the basketball kids out … we don’t have to spread ourselves so thin. But we’re really pretty young. We’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores – and some juniors. That bodes well for our future.”
In the field events, the Coyotes return regional-qualifying long-jumper Bullet Geer, a senior, who will also contend again in the triple jump.
“He could potentially be a regional-qualifier in both of those,” Patton said. “And Zay Gentry went 20 feet, 9 inches, today in the long jump so that’s obviously going to be a bright spot. We’re going to try him in the triple jump. He could go over 40 feet.”
Gentry will also compete in the high jump. “We’ll see which of the three he’s best at,” Patton said.
In the throws, Patton noted, “[Senior] Major Mosier is the big guy for disc and shot. Last year, he was a regional-qualifier in the shot and broke our school record. He’s looking to improve that as well as in the discus. We also have sophomore JR Box in the shot.”
As for the 100- and 200-meter sprints, Patton said, “We’re a little different. We don’t have what I would call ‘100 speed’ right now. That’s kind of one where we put some guys that are in between. As far as the 200, Zay could run that. Not today but in a couple of meets we’ll put him in the 200 and see how he does.”
In the sprint relays, Patton now has Geer, Gentry and Calles.
“We’re still looking for a third leg. It could be anyone from Ragsdale to Stanley Bardere. We just don’t have that one person that is going to go get it just yet. We’re still looking for that one.”
Patton added that two sprinters who are injured at the moment - Darren Woods and Dorien Allen - could help in the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200, and could also run the individual 400 or 4-by-400 relay.
For the 400, Patton said he will mainly look to Adrian Lopez and Joey Montano. “We’re still trying to build that one up. That’s one that the kids don’t necessarily want to do because it hurts real bad.”
Hernandez heads up the Coyotes’ distance effort, along with Wetzel and possibly Massingill.
“[Hernandez] has looked really, really good this year,” Patton said. “Last week at our meet, he set a [personal record] in the 800 and the mile [1,600].”
The 1,600 time, Patton said, was “the best we’ve had in a number of years.”
Wetzel will take on anything from the 800 to the 3,200 meters, Patton said. “We’re still trying to get his legs under him because he still plays baseball for us.”
As for team strengths this season, Patton said, “It’s real early to say. We try to preach our relays but right now we’re probably sitting third or fourth in the relays, if you take a look at our district. Anywhere from about the 200 [meters] is probably where we’re the strongest, I would think. Then, the addition of Bryce Wetzel and David Hernandez doing so well in distance has helped us out a lot early on. But I know Melissa, Celina and Sanger have really good distance kids so that will be difficult.”
VAN ALSTYNE PANTHER RELAYS
Varsity Boys Team Finish
1. Van Alstyne 126
2. Aubrey 118
3. Anna 97
4. Caddo Mills 79
5. Pottsboro 54
6. Howe 38
7. Farmersville 14
8. Bonham 2
Varsity Girls Team Finish
1. Aubrey 134
2. Caddo Mills 102
3. Anna 81
4. Van Alstyne 76
5. Howe 62
6. Bonham 38.5
7. Pottsboro 29
8. Farmersville 22.5