Two Decatur Lady Eagles will make their state meet debut after their performances at the Class 3A Region II Meet at Commerce Saturday.
Sophomore Nicole Neighbors and junior Haley Dennard punched their ticket to Austin for the University Interscholastic League’s state meet May 10-11.
Neighbors qualified in the 100 and 300 hurdles. She captured the silver medal in both events.
“I’m just excited to have this opportunity to go and compete at state,” Neighbors said. “To have this experience for the next couple of years is just a great feeling.”
Despite a shaky start in the 300, Neighbors went on to record a personal best time of 45.77.
“My goal was to break 46 [seconds], and I did that today,” she said.
Neighbors found an extra gear in the final 100 meters to pull ahead and clinch the second spot.
A little earlier she did the same, in the 100 hurdles claiming second place .
“That’s pretty special, and to do it in the fashion she did it,” Decatur coach David Park said. “I get to where I’m not surprised, and sometimes I forget she is a sophomore, because of how hard she competes.”
Dennard wrapped up an exciting day, too, with a gold medal in the 800 meters. After struggling her freshman year and not running last season, everything came together for the junior in 2013.
“It’s really a good feeling-it’s surreal,” Dennard said after her win. “It’s exciting because you’re not really sprinting, and at the end you just give it all you have. The 800 is a hard race.”
Coming from behind has been Dennard’s strategy all year. She used it again Saturday. Rounding the final turn in third place, Dennard found an extra gear to pass the final two runners and record her personal best time of 2:20.67.
“I like to come from behind at the end. It makes for an exciting race,” she said. “I felt confident I could catch them.”
Dennard has continued to shave time off as the season has gone on, and is amazed by what she has been able to achieve.
“I came in this year not expecting a whole lot,” she said. “It has just taken me by surprise about how much I’ve accomplished.”
Brianna Compton just missed out on a trip to Austin with a fourth-place finish in the long jump, and eighth-place in the triple jump.
Macen Stripling came away with fifth in the 100 hurdles.
“Macen has really come on,” Park said. “She is still just a sophomore, so she is going to do nothing but improve.”
REGION II-3A RESULTS
TEAM STANDINGS (GIRLS TOP TEN)
1. Frisco Lone Star … 131
2. Carrollton Ranchview … 84
3. Sanger … 33
4. Decatur … 32
4. Kilgore … 32
6. Spring Hill … 30
7. Anna … 28
8. Melissa … 27
9. Paris … 25
10. Kaufman … 24
10. Henderson … 24
800: 1. Haley Dennard, 2:20.67.
100 hurdles: 2. Nicole Neighbors, 15.63; 5. Macen Stripling, 15.98.
300 hurdles: 2. Nicole Neighbors, 45.77.
Pole Vault: 12. Jessica Kyle, 7-6.
Long Jump: 4. Brianna Compton, 17-8.
Triple Jump: 8. Brianna Compton, 35-6.