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Photo Finish: 2019 Wise County State Track Qualifiers

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, May 4, 2019
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Decatur 4x400 Team

DECATUR 4X400 RELAY

The Decatur Eagles’ mile relay has spent the better part of the last decade trying to get back to state.

Last week in Lubbock, Decatur’s 4×400 team of Triston Read, Noah Young, A.J. Martinez and Jared Allison put an end to the drought. The Eagles ran a 3:22.9 to take silver at regionals and qualify for state for the first time since 2010.

“I think it’s pretty awesome,” Allison said. “It’s exciting. 3:21.8 is the school record and I think we all want to break that. We’re looking to get on the podium.”

The Eagles’ time of 3:22.9 is fifth in the nine-team field of 4A finalists. Read said they can continue to shave their time. He added his distance training has helped considerably with the race.

“You can cut off at least three seconds just with cleaner handoffs,” Read said. “[Distance training] just makes my time a lot faster and I always have the stamina there. The 400 just seems so short.”

Read, Martinez, Young and Allison will compete in the 4A mile relay at 10:05 p.m. May 11 in Austin. The four are hoping for a return to the podium.

“It would be a huge accomplishment,” Young said.

Alvord 4x100 Team

ALVORD 4X100 RELAY

Clayton Machal, Tanner Richey, Jared Johnson and Ransom Klein are used to being underestimated on the track.

Despite their average stature, Alvord’s 4×100 team has developed a knack for silencing doubters once the gun sounds.

“We were racing against Bowie,” Machal recalled. “They had some big kids. They were telling some other school they had to watch out for us. The first meet [Bowie] raced against us and said, ‘Oh, they’re just a bunch of small white kids, we got this.’ And then we blew them out of the water.”

The Bulldogs took home the 2A Region II title at Springtown, turning in an impressive 43.10. Alvord also won district and area titles.

They enter the finals with the fifth-best time.

“I think it’s pretty special to be able to represent Alvord,” Johnson said. “It’s satisfying when all these teams talk crap and they just overlook us.”

When the speedy group won the region title, Richey said it was hard to contain his excitement.

“I couldn’t stop smiling,” he conceded.

It is the first time Alvord’s sprint relay has advanced to state in over three decades. Machal, Richey, Johnson and Klein will compete at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas at Austin May 11 at 5:30 p.m.

“This is our first time to go in a long time,” Klein said. “We had the times, but it wasn’t real until it actually happened. It’s something else.”

Decatur 4x100 Team

DECATUR 4X100 RELAY

When Shay DuBois handed the baton to Will Quintana for the final leg of the 4×100 at the 4A Region I meet, only one thought entered his mind.

“I crouched down and just said ‘Go Will! Just go!'” DuBois said.

As Quintana sprinted down the home stretch and across the finish line, the other members of Decatur’s sprint relay team anxiously awaited the results.

They almost did not believe their eyes. The Eagles clocked a 42.2 to win the 4A Region I title and break the school record from 1980.

“I know this sounds bad, but I’m surprised we got first,” said A.J. Martinez. “The handoffs couldn’t get any better, but then we busted out an even faster time.”

For Quintana, running anchor as a freshman has been a mixed bag of emotions.

“Prelims I was really nervous,” Quintana said. “I saw we got fourth, which gave me a little more confidence. Finals came around and I knew I had to keep the lead. It’s been a lot of pressure, but I have a good team to get me through it.”

DuBois, Martinez, Quintana and Jackson Carroll will compete in the 4A 4×100 at 5:30 p.m. May 11. They are seeded fifth in the finals.

The 4×100 will be joined by the Decatur 4×400. It is the first time Decatur has sent more than one relay to state in the same year. Carroll hopes it becomes a routine event.

“I’m hoping we can take a big bus next year,” Carroll said.

Maddux Polaroid

JADON MADDUX
Bridgeport 100 & 200

The first time Jadon Maddux ran at Mike Myers Stadium in the prestigious Texas Relays in 2018, the Bridgeport junior almost did not get a chance step foot onto the track.

Still relatively unknown at the time, Maddux was nearly overlooked as he tried to check himself in for the 100.

“Check in at the Texas Relays is right by the stands,” Maddux recalled. “There was a lot of people. I went and said ‘I’m in the 100.’ And the lady said ‘No, this is check in for the 100.’ I told her I was in the 100 and she said ‘Oh, I’m so sorry I thought you were in the mile or something else.'”

After a moment of explanation, Maddux was checked in and went on to finish fourth in the highly-competitive event. One month later, he took home the bronze medal in the 4A 100 with a 10.52.

“It’s a good story to tell,” Maddux joked. “Everybody asks if I get questioned about how small I am. I remember at state I walked up there and the lady said ‘This is the check in for the 100.’ And I jokingly said ‘This isn’t the mile?’ We have a good time with that story.”

Ever since, the Bulls’ speedster has been the main attraction at nearly every meet.

“It’s crazy just to think [fans] are only there for, hopefully, about 10.5 seconds and no longer,” Maddux said. “It’s a blessing.”

The 5-7, 145-pound Maddux won the 4A Region I 100 and will now look to get back on the podium. He also qualified in the 200.

His time of 10.52 from last year’s state meet remains his personal best. Maddux will take to the starting blocks for the 100 at 7:05 p.m. May 11, and at 9:05 p.m. for the 200.

He hopes this time he has no issue checking in,

“I love that track. This will be my fourth time. It’s crazy to think I’ve been down there four times in two years,” Maddux said. I hope [they’re familiar with me], but it would be another great story to tell.”

Thomas Polaroid

CHRISTINA THOMAS
Alvord Discus

Christina Thomas’ performance at last year’s state championships still lingers on her mind.

The Alvord senior scratched on several attempts before throwing 92 feet to finish eighth in Class 2A.

“I threw horrible at state,” Thomas said. “I was excited to be there but I was so upset with how I did. I entered throwing 120 [feet] and left throwing 92 [feet].”

With experience under her belt, Thomas returns to Austin confident and on track to bring home the gold medal.

Thomas’ throw of 132-5 from the 2A Region II meet last week in Springtown leads 2A. It’s also a school record.

“My hard work is paying off,” Thomas said. “Being a senior, I want to go out and leave a mark. Being able to beat my record countless times already this year, and especially how I did at the regional meet, I’m so excited to leave a positive impact on my school, myself and my family.”

Thomas will compete at 8 a.m. May 11. Fortunately, most of her family already has hotel rooms reserved.

“My family booked a room last year for this meet, so that put a lot of pressure on me,” Thomas said. “It would mean the world to me [to medal]. Especially since I’m already sitting in first right now, it would be so amazing to win it.”

Read Polaroid

TRISTON READ
Decatur 800

As he crossed the finish line during the 800 at the 4A Region I meet, Decatur’s Triston Read found himself in a familiar position.

One year earlier at the 2018 region meet, Read finished fourth and narrowly missed out on the wild card to qualify for state.

“Last year getting fourth and having the fourth-fastest time in the state was kind of rough,” Read admitted. “I was like ‘This year, I need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.’ I didn’t want to run into the same problem.”

Read improved by one spot, taking third with a 1:56.91. The finish didn’t guarantee the junior a state bid. But after a few anxious moments, he learned he earned the wild card.

“When I finished, I looked up at the clock and kind of knew I was going to get the wild card,” Read said. “I had been looking at times and there was no way a kid dropped down to 1:55 and had kids file in around him.”

Read has the third-best time in 4A.

His time of 1:56.59 from the 2018 regional meet remains his personal-best, and would have netted him a fourth-place finish at last year’s state meet.

“Watching all the kids at state run as fast as I did kind of hurt. But I just moved on,” Read said.

Read said his former teammate, Christian Isaac, who got the wild card in the 800 last year, has encouraged him throughout the year. Isaac took fourth at state and barely missed out on medaling.

Now, Read wants to accomplish what Issac did not. He will try to get on the podium at 7:35 p.m. May 11.

“It would mean a lot,” Read said. “Isaac made it last year as the wild card but did not run to his potential. He reminds me a lot. He’s in the Marines now. I just want to follow up his legacy.”

Johnson Polaroid

JARED JOHNSON
Alvord 100

The Alvord senior just started running track this year, citing injuries and a bit of self-doubt as the main reasons he did not suit up.

“I just didn’t think I was that fast,” Johnson said. “I get hurt all the time. Sprained ankles, pulled muscles – everything.”

But Johnson has managed to stay healthy, and as a result, has posted some of the fastest times in the state. His 10.7 is the second-best in the 2A field of finalists.

He is only 0.08 seconds off the top runner in his classification. Johnson believes he can catch him.

“I can definitely shave off a little time,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely a confidence booster knowing that I’m one of the fastest kids in the state.”

Johnson will compete in the 2A 100 at 7:05 p.m. May 11. Although this is only his first year running track, Johnson said he has developed an affinity for it – and coming out on top.

“I love it,” Johnson said. “It’s awesome winning.”

Tambunga Polaroid

JOCELYN TAMBUNGA
Alvord 100 Hurdles

Seven years have passed since Jordan Ward posted an eye-popping 14.06 in the 100 hurdles at the 2012 UIL track and field championships.

The time stood as the Class 2A record for one year, and still serves as Alvord’s record. But Jocelyn Tambunga is doing her best to chase it down.

The Alvord sophomore finished second at the 2A Region II meet with a 16.55, qualifying for state in the same event Ward once dominated.

“My ultimate goal is to beat Jordan Ward’s time. She was such an amazing athlete,” Tambunga said. “If I did it, honestly, I would probably cry. And I am not an emotional person.”

Tambunga began running hurdles in middle school. Although she only stands 5-2, Tambunga has relished the challenge of being a relatively small hurdler.

“Sometimes I tell myself ‘Oh I didn’t get my best time because I’m short,'” Tambunga said. “I feel like that’s probably just an excuse because I can definitely do better.”

She is seeded ninth among the 2A finalists.

Tambunga will take off in the 2A 100 hurdles at 6:35 p.m., May 11.

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