By Joseph Garcia
LAMPASAS – The Liberty Hill boys track and field teams earned a third-place finish at the District 25-3A meet on Thursday, April 12. But the big picture for both this year and the near future is also encouraging for the Panthers and their coaches.
In a tight points race until the final contest, Liberty Hill finished third with a score of 141, just one and a half behind host Lampasas at 142.5. Salado won in overall points with 155.
“We did well,” said Liberty Hill boys track coach Jimmy Duncan. “The kids competed very well and we knew it was going to be a race all the way through, we counted point-by-point.”
Liberty Hill junior Jadon Durity-Boatright highlighted the field events for the Panthers, taking the gold in both the long jump and the triple jump with attempts of 22-2 and 45-10 3/4. John Spurgeon earned a bronze in the shot put, throwing a 47-5.
The field events were held on April 11 and the races began April 12. And eight top three finishes were recorded on the boys team on Thursday.
Seniors Andrew Waller-De la Rosa and Cameron Cardwell finished 1-2 in the 400-meter dash, with times of 49.35 seconds and 49.81. Then Liberty Hill ran away with all three medals in the 800-meter run with Waller-De la Rosa taking first (1:56.41), Cardwell finishing second (1:56.55) and Brian Cantwell earning third (1:59.29).
In the distance races, Nik Crozier ran to a third-place finish in the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:33.93. Then sophomore Mitchell Germann earned a silver medal in the 3200-meter run at 10:13.26.
Then came the final race of the evening, the 4×400-meter relay, in which Liberty Hill was favored to win.
In a close race, Waller-De la Rosa – usually the anchor – pushed Liberty Hill out to a slight lead in the second leg. Then on the final stretch, Cardwell used every ounce of energy to squeak out a win for the Panthers, edging the Taylor anchor Tim Bailey 3:25.86 to 3:25.99.
“(Bailey) didn’t seem like he was slowing down and I thought, this is going to be a tough one,” said Cardwell who anchored the race for the Panthers. “We got on the (100-meter mark) and he kind of kicked and saw him go faster. Then all of a sudden he started slowing up and I thought, I got this, and I gave it a kick at the end. It wasn’t by much, but I got him.”
Cardwell said although he felt the pain, it was only momentary.
“It’s the last race, might as well feel the pain,” he said. “You don’t feel it for very long afterwards, so you might as well feel it for those few milliseconds.”
Coach Duncan said he was pleased to be taking 11 varsity athletes to the regional meet, but is also excited about the future of Liberty Hill track and field since the JV team won the district team title with 144 points.
“(The future) looks really good,” Duncan said. “We have a lot of kids in the JV (program). If you come out to practice sometime you can see close to 75 boys running track. Our numbers are getting better every year. It took a while for them to buy into it, but track is a fun sport. Workouts are hard, but when you come to the meet and compete, you see the benefits of all that hard work paying off, which is really great. So, we’ve got a bright future ahead of us.”
Regional Qualifiers will be held Friday, April 20, in Marble Falls, with Regional Finals in Corpus Christi April 27-28.