AUSTIN — Prior to Friday night, the Guyer girls had never brought a medal home from the UIL state track and field meet.
But on Friday, four of them decided to change the Lady Wildcats’ bad fortunes at Mike A. Myers Stadium, as they earned silver and bronze medals in the 800-meter relay and 400 relay, respectively.
Though they ran in a different order for the two races, which differ in strategy, the two teams were made up of the same four girls: seniors Candalyn Lyons and Leanne Bell and juniors Brittany Crabtree and Joyner Harris.
“To take off almost a second and a half off within two weeks of running our previous best time we’ve ever run [in the 800 relay], it was great,” Guyer girls coach Megan Hardesty said. “The fact we did that in two races, yeah, it was awesome. Who wouldn’t want a gold, but when you run your best times with girls who worked their butts off all year long, you can’t help but celebrate.”
The success was enough to have the Lady Wildcats sitting in third place in the team standings going into the night’s final event, the 1,600 relay, in which they didn’t field a team. Guyer finished the meet in fourth place with 32 points after Canyon passed Guyer by finishing second in the 1,600 relay. Team champion Lancaster won its 11th title with 70 points.
In the 800 relay, Guyer was consistently battling with traditional state powerhouse Lancaster, which won the race in 1 minute, 38.57 seconds, and appeared to be in the lead around the final curve — with Bell running the anchor leg — but Lancaster’s anchor Janae Garrett passed her before Bell held off a late charge from Arlington Seguin to finish second in 1:39.09.
“I’ve never pushed that much in my life,” Bell said. “Especially in that last 50 meters, I felt like I was going so fast I was going to fall forward.”
Hardesty made the decision to move Bell to the anchor leg instead of Crabtree, who anchors the 400 relay, prior to the Lady Wildcats’ win at the 4A Region I meet held in Abilene two weeks ago.
“When you have someone as tough as Leanne anchoring you, you have to feel pretty good,” Hardesty said. “She’s just a fighter. She’ll do what it takes. We weren’t necessarily going to catch Lancaster, but she had to fight off that Arlington Seguin girl. It was cool to watch those two seniors [Lyons and Bell] finish off those last two legs like that.”
Lyons ran second in the 400 relay, which finished third in a photo finish, just two one-hundredths of a second off second-place Pearland Dawson and just more than a tenth of a second off winner Texas City.
“Everyone ran their best leg, but we put together the third best time in the state and it was our best time we’ve ever run,” Hardesty said. “I have chill bumps just thinking about it.”
Like they did in the 800 relay, the foursome ran a school record in the 400 relay, taking bronze in 46.79.
“We’ve been doing that all year, improving with each meet,” Hardesty said. “It shows our training and weightlifting was correct. We’ve peaked at the right time.”
Lyons, Harris and Bell were all a part of Guyer’s 1,600 relay team last year that finished eighth at the state meet, and Lyons was disqualified in the 100 meters.
This year, Lyons was out for redemption, and she got it.
The Guyer senior finished fifth in the 100 (12.05) to go along with her two relay medals.
“With the rain last year, it was almost midnight when we ran,” Lyons said. “I got disqualified in the 100. I felt like last year was a complete waste of time. We came this year and we redeemed ourselves.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.