SPORTS HEADLINES

Clayton inches short in mile; Rival Perry edges Decatur runner for region title

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014

With 25 meters left, Decatur’s Taylor Clayton made a last surge to put himself in front of Sanger’s Jacob Perry Saturday in the 1600.

AGGIE FUTURITY – Sanger’s Jacob Perry (left) just lunged past Taylor Clayton of Decatur for the 1600-meter gold medal at Texas A&M Commerce last Saturday. The pair, who will run together next year at Texas A&M, will compete one more time at the UIL State Track Meet in Austin. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

But as Clayton took his final step at the finish line, Perry leaned forward to just sneak across the tape and steal the Class 3A Region II title and gold medal.

“I thought I outstepped him,” Clayton said. “I didn’t think to lean.”

Perry beat his future Texas A&M teammate by 0.01 of second. Perry finished in 4:24.2, and Clayton in 4:24.21.

Perry said he learned to lean at the finish line after losing a close race at the Jesuit meet.

Perry also edged Clayton in the 3200 Friday evening. Both will run against each other in Austin at the University Interscholastic League state meet May 9-10.

“He’s got most of the races, but I can get the other two in two weeks,” said Clayton, who won the 3A title in cross country in the fall.

The 9-3A pair, who finished first and second at the district and area meets in the 1600 and 3200, led the pack from start to finish in the regional 1600. Perry led the first lap that they finished in 63 seconds. They passed through the 800 in 2:12.

“With the wind, our first 800 was about six seconds slow,” Clayton said. “We expected to be at 2:06.”

Perry took the lead in the third lap and the duo turned a 69-second quarter. The two ran the last lap in 63, shedding the rest of the pack. Sanger’s Josh Mills took third in 4:26.96.

“We ran hard the last lap,” Clayton said.

In the 3200 Friday, Perry won in 9:18.72. Clayton finished in 9;20.55.

Both broke the meet record by several seconds.

“We took it out at 4:43 in the first mile and slowed. But the last 800 we put the hammer down and ran 2:13,” Clayton recalled. “The last 350, he took the lead, and I took the lead. He ended up outkicking me.

“We have one more in two weeks. I was never within one second of him last year.”

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