By Joseph Garcia
LAMPASAS – It was always going to be a tall task for either of Liberty Hill’s track and field teams to win the District 8-3A Meet, but there was never any doubt that the school would be represented in the next step – the Area Meet.
The Area Meet, set today, April 18, in Stephenville, is new this year and is designed to reduce the number of athletes who participate in the Regional Meet in Lubbock April 26-27. Twenty-three athletes from Liberty Hill High School qualified for the Area Meet (13 boys, 10 girls).
Overall as a team, the Liberty Hill girls took third place with 132 points with Brownwood winning (154). The boys placed fourth with 124, just four behind winner Brownwood (128). Gatesville and Lampasas tied for second place with 126 points each in one of the closest district meets in history.
“It was one of the closest district meets I have been involved in,” said Liberty Hill track and field Coach Jimmy Duncan. “The meet came down to the last race of the day, so it was quite exciting. We had several personal bests and seem to be peaking at the right time.”
One of the 10 girls who qualified last Thursday was Madi Sharp, who won gold medals in the high jump (5-0) and 100-meter hurdles (15.58). The junior is excited for her opportunity to extend her track season and is eying a trip to Austin for the State Meet.
“It feels great,” Sharp said. “Hopefully I can get first at Area. High jump isn’t going too well for me right now, but hopefully I can get better as we go along. The goal is to make it to state for the hurdles and the high jump.”
Other girls who qualified were Maria Rodriguez, who won gold in the 400-meter run (1:02.51), Danielle Rimann, who won a gold medal in the 1600-meter run (5:26.32) and third in the 3200-meter run (11:58.17), Cera Dixon (second in the triple jump with 35-9 1/4), Brianna Burns (third in the shot put with 35-11), Heather Shaffer (fourth in pole vault with 10-0 and third in 100-meter hurdles with 17.11), Skylar Larkin (third in the 800-meter run with 2:24.94), Allie Ledesma (fourth in the 800-meter run 2:29.40), Chelsea Cole, who placed third in the 1600-meter run (5:35.25) and 3200-meter run (12:15.85) and Allie Nix (fourth in the 300-meter hurdles with 48.99).
The team of Ledesma, Larkin, Dixon and Rodriguez also qualified with a third place finish in the 4×400-meter relay.
“The girls competed exceptionally well against extremely tough competition and set numerous personal bests,” said Liberty Hill Coach Monica Miller. “We are taking 10 girls competing in 12 events to the Area Meet in Stephenville, many of them qualifying in multiple events.”
On the boys’ side, senior Jadon Durity-Boatright, as expected, took the gold medal in the triple jump with an attempt of 47-0 3/4 and earned the bronze in the long jump (21-10 1/4). Durity-Boatright also competed in the 100-meter dash, but he pulled up as he tweaked his right hamstring.
Durity-Boatright, who won third at the State Meet last year, said he will hopefully be ready to go for Area on Thursday.
“I didn’t feel my best at all,” he said. “In the triple jump I did decent, though, with a 47-0 3/4 jump. And I hope I will be ready, but at the moment I’m pretty doubtful. I’m doing everything possible to be ready for Thursday. (A jump of 47 feet) will most likely be good enough (to get to regionals) after seeing the furthest jumps so far in the area.”
In addition to Durity-Boatright, Zach Stiles won first in the 800-meter run (2:01.04), Mitchell Germann took second in the 3200-meter run (10:16.61) and the 1600-meter run (4:40), Will Fromme won silver in the 110-meter hurdles (15.36) and the 300-meter hurdles (40.60), Nick Hernandez (third in 400-meter dash (52:70), Jordan Skinner took third in the shot put (46-7) and fourth in the discus (136-9), JT Spurgeon qualified for area with a fourth place finish in the shot put (46-5 1/2), Gabe Shoemaker (fourth in 100-meter dash with 11.73), Joe Lingren (fourth in 800-meter run with 2:04.23).
The 4×400-meter team of Caleb Guerin, Hernandez, Christian Anderson and Stiles also took third with a time of 3:28.55.
“I’m glad my season got extended by another week and that all of those miles paid off when it mattered,” Lingren said.
The weather forecast in Stephenville on Thursday includes a chance of storms, but Coach Duncan says the team should be accustomed to performing in less-than-ideal conditions.
“Hopefully we will have better weather to run in, but the forecast does not look so good,” he said. “It could be windy and rainy, but at least we are used to it by now.”
He certainly hopes it rains gold, silver and bronze for Liberty Hill.