Ryan head boys track and field coach Janson Head conceded that the talent pool in Austin this past weekend was stronger than it will be in a few weeks for the Class 5A state track and field meet.
Head also didn’t think his boys’ 800-meter relay team was going to do what it did at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at the University of Texas.
Ryan’s relay team finished third in the high school Division II finals with a time of 1 minute, 26.33 seconds, trailing Texarkana Texas and Cibolo Steele.
At one of the biggest track and field meets in the nation, Ryan’s 800 relay team produced one of the nation’s best times, a sign of good things to come for the Raiders.
“As much success as we’ve been fortunate to have, we’ve never made the finals in anything at Texas Relays,” Head said. “I was pleased. I was thrilled to death with how well they ran.”
The four-member team of junior Terell Cross, senior Paul Hunter, junior Maurice Gordon and senior Cameron Williams didn’t break the school record of 1:25.77 set in 2011, when it won the gold medal at the Class 4A state meet, but the times at the Texas Relays were the second and third fastest times in school history.
Ryan’s performance in Saturday’s finals was the seventh fastest time for the event in the nation, according to DyeStat.com. Guyer is in eighth place with the 1:26.50 performance it ran at the Garland Lakeview Centennial Relays.
The time Ryan ran this past weekend was faster than the time that gave the Raiders the 2010 Class 4A state title in the relay.
Head said this is only the fourth time he’s sent a team to Texas Relays, as he doesn’t like sending a team each year.
Typically, the top 54 teams qualify for one of the nation’s largest meets, but Head said it takes a special group to compete in Austin. Ryan last went to the Texas Relays in 2012.
Cross, who ran the opening leg, said he didn’t expect the Raiders to do as well as they did in Austin. Cross, who made his fourth career trip to Austin, knew the competition they were going up against.
But when the times were posted, the Raiders found themselves near the top of the leader board.
“We were all jumping around,” Cross said. “We were excited. We were really surprised we got third. We thought we were going to get last.”
Even in the four years Ryan’s 800 relay has qualified for the state meet, and the two years Ryan won the Class 4A state title in the event, Head said the relay has not been this fast this early in the season. With the exception of the first week, the relay team has ran faster than 1:28, something Head said is a very good sign.
But the head coach knows what counts, which is the three-week stretch of the district, area and regional meets to qualify for state, adding that 5A Region I is one of the fastest in the nation. Head said he told his team what happened in Austin was good, but the meets that count are yet to come.
“We haven’t really done anything yet,” Head said. “It’s a great sign, but it really doesn’t matter until we do it when it matters.”
Skinner breaks drought
In the 10 years Jayme Kiraly has been at Ryan, she can’t recall a Lady Raiders athlete going to the Texas Relays before freshman Bryanna Skinner qualified for the girls Division II 100 meters.
Kiraly said she wanted Skinner to finish among the top 50 runners and handle the big stage well. Skinner finished 46th with a time of 12.77 seconds. She didn’t make the finals, but the second-year head girls track and field coach was thrilled with Skinner’s performance.
“She didn’t get a PR [personal record], she didn’t get a medal, but she handled it like an upperclassman,” Kiraly said. “So to get that under her belt, it’s phenomenal.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.