Lady Panthers send relay, distance runner to state meet

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Liberty Hill girls mile relay team will look to defend their title at the state track meet in Austin May 12-14, after taking second place at the Region IV meet in Kingsville last weekend. Pictured along with their trophy after winning the mile relay at the Texas Relays earlier this season are assistant coach Monica Miller, Shaylin Vickers, Rachel Gallander, Lily Miller, Ana Rodriguez and head coach Gretchen Peterson. (Laura Coleman Photo)

Liberty Hill girls mile relay team will look to defend their title at the state track meet in Austin May 12-14, after taking second place at the Region IV meet in Kingsville last weekend. Pictured along with their trophy after winning the mile relay at the Texas Relays earlier this season are assistant coach Monica Miller, Shaylin Vickers, Rachel Gallander, Lily Miller, Ana Rodriguez and head coach Gretchen Peterson. (Laura Coleman Photo)

By Lauren Jette

Liberty Hill will send the girls mile relay team and girls long distance specialist Danielle Rimann to the state track meet in Austin next week after taking third place at the 4A Region IV track meet in Kingsville April 29 and 30.

“Overall, there was a tremendous amount of competition at the regional meet this year, and our kids did a great job as well,” said girls head coach Gretchen Peterson.

“The conditions were not ideal, but they really stepped up and pushed themselves on Saturday, especially.”

The girls mile relay team will get a chance to defend their state title after taking the silver in 3:59.42.

The team of Lily Miller, Ana Rodriguez, Shaylin Vickers and Rachel Gallander will look to meet or better their time of 3:58.43 that won them gold at the state meet last year.

At the Texas Relays a month ago, the group won with a 3:55 on the same track they will run on next week.

“We would be lying if we said we weren’t a little disappointed that we didn’t win the 4×400 and regional championship, but when you put some perspective on the whole matter, our girls ran some really strong times against some really strong athletes,” Peterson said.

Sinton won the title with a 3:58.77, which gives them the fourth best time heading into the state meet, with Liberty Hill in the fifth spot.

Waco Connally has the fastest time going in with a 3:56.40.

Senior Rimann punched her ticket to the state meet after taking the silver medal in the 3200m run in 11:42, and also finished third in the 1600m run in 5:18, earning her the wildcard spot at state.

“Danielle ran wonderfully, very confident and driven, a true example of a girl on a mission,” Peterson said.

“(I’m) glad she will finish her senior year at the state track meet.”

Rimann has signed to run at Dallas Baptist University next fall.

The state track meet will be held at Mike A. Myers Stadium on The University of Texas campus May 12-14.

The finals of the girls 4A 4x400m relay will run at 3:15 p.m. May 14. The 4A girls 3200m run will take place at 8:40 a.m. May 13, while the 1600m run will take place at 2:45 p.m. May 14.

With almost two weeks to prepare, Peterson expects her runners to be ready for the state meet.

“We were pushed in the mile relay, and that was good for us,” she said.

“(It) helps us get refocused and keep our eyes on the prize. Those are tremendous accomplishments that many schools would love to have, and we are very blessed.

“We get to run another race, and many kids are turning in their track stuff this week, so we need to remember how lucky we are and make the most of our opportunity.”

While the stage for the state meet is a much bigger one than most runners season all season, experience and familiarity will on the Lady Panthers’ side next week.

“It’s state, there will be lots of butterflies and adrenalin, but we have to remember it just takes one race, and that’s what they all have, one race,” Peterson said.

“I know they will make the most of it. All of them have run at UT, either at Texas Relays and/or state, so they know the drill. They will show up ready to give their best and compete.”

Earning points towards the Lady Panthers third place finish were Lily Miller, who took third place in the 200m dash in 25.39; Rachel Gallander, who took fourth place in the 400m dash in 58.94 and competed in the high jump competition; Mckynzie King, who took seventh in the 1600m run in 5:30, and eighth place in the 3200m run in 12:22.

Bethany McLeod finished fourth in the 100m hurdles in 15.86; Ana Rodriguez took sixth place in the 300m hurdles in 47.80; Esther Vineyard finished 12th in the 800m run in 2:37.

The girls 4x200m relay team of Hannah Smirl, Victoria Kelley, Rachel Gallander and Lily Miller finished in fourth place in 1:44.61.

Several Panthers represented Liberty Hill in the boys’ competition.

Jon Shannon finished 12th in the 100m dash in 11:30 in the prelims.

Grant White took fifth place in the 200m dash in 22.36.

Justin Zuhn finished in fifth place in the 400m dash in 51.15.

Alex Albarran finished in 13th in the 1600m run in 4:50.

Dakota Corbut took third place in the shot put with a throw of 52 feet.

The 4x200m relay team of Dyllon Joiner, Jon Shannon, Grant Ornelaz and Grant White finished in fifth place in 1:30.65.

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