AUSTIN — Jalen Hunter had hoped for bigger things in his final high school track meet on Friday night at Mike A. Myers Stadium, but after a disappointing day for the Tennessee-bound hurdler, the Guyer senior capped his career with a silver medal.
Hunter entered the 110-meter hurdles at the UIL state track and field meet with the best qualifying time but finished sixth after a bad start. He made up for it later in the 300 hurdles, in which he had the fifth-best qualifying time but claimed the silver medal with a personal-best time of 36.72 seconds, edging out Canyon’s Norman Grimes by a one-hundredth of a second.
“It’s very satisfying,” Hunter said. “I never thought I’d be in the top three because everyone ran 37s and I had yet to break a 37. I was running 38s consistently. Today I just went out there and put my heart into my last one. I knew I was done after this. I just went out there and gave it my all.”
On top of running the 110 hurdles before his silver-medal run, Hunter also anchored the Guyer 800 relay team, which was doomed by a bad baton exchange between second leg Anthony Taylor and third leg Logien Franklin and finished ninth, nearly two seconds off their best time this year.
But Hunter got off to a blazing start in his third race over a 90-minute span and was beaten by less than four-tenths of a second by Fort Bend Marshall’s Kendall Sheffield for the 4A title.
Hunter can now go off to Tennessee, where he earned a track scholarship, knowing he got a state medal in high school after a previous-best fourth-place finish in the 300 hurdles in 2013.
“So much hard work has gone into this season and last year, and basically all my high school track career,” Hunter said, holding back some emotion. “Me and my dad have worked hard. Me and [former Guyer track coach Oschlor] Flemming worked hard, and me and [Guyer head track coach Russ] Phillips have worked hard. Everyone’s pushed me. My teammates, everyone. My support system is huge, and it helps me a lot.”
Jackson ties for silver
Lake Dallas senior Josh Jackson hasn’t had a great senior year athletically, but he ended his high school athletic career on a high note on Friday by tying for second place and earning a silver medal in the Class 4A boys high jump.
Jackson, who was a star receiver on Lake Dallas’ football team, was injured early in the team’s fifth game of the season after a torrid start and missed the remainder of the season with a fractured ankle. He was one of few bright spots on a Falcons’ basketball team that struggled throughout the season.
But on Friday, Jackson was in the spotlight and finished his career on the medal stand with a jump of 6-feet, 6 inches, tying him with Frisco Heritage’s Kene Nwangwu. The two finished behind Aledo’s Carl Williams, who jumped 7-0 despite dislocating his knee in a warmup before his attempt at 6-10.
“We didn’t do well in football or basketball, so it’s nice to end my career on a good note by finishing second in the high jump,” Jackson said.
Jackson signed to play cornerback for Iowa back in February and said he will also compete in the high jump.
Jackson, who finished sixth at the state meet in the triple jump last year, focused solely on the high jump this season to preserve his right ankle — his lead foot on the second of three jumps in the triple jump. He won the Class 4A Region I championship with a jump of 6-9 but came up short of meeting that mark on Friday.
He said he’s ready to move on from track and start focusing on football again before he heads off to Iowa City, Iowa.
“Now I can put all my focus into Iowa, working out and getting strong and working on footwork,” Jackson said. “When I was doing high jump, I was just focusing on that and not doing much else, but now that it’s over, I can put all my focus on Iowa.”
Jackson’s teammate, Brielle Brown, finished ninth in the 4A girls 100-meter dash with a 12.24.
Norton closes career
Guyer distance runner Devin Norton has made her name as a cross country runner over the past four years, earning state meet berths all four years, including two years at the Class 5A level.
On Friday, the Class 4A Region I champion ended her high school career with a fifth-place finish in the Class 4A girls 3,200 meters in a time of 11:13.66.
“I didn’t want today to end,” Guyer long-distance coach Jonathan Ponsonby said. “I wanted that two-mile to keep going and keep going.”
Norton, a two-time all-state honoree in cross country, will continue her running career at Texas A&M.
In the 3A girls 3,200, Argyle’s Annamarie Woolums finished seventh in a time of 11:52.59.
Lotze takes seventh
As the new blonde pole vaulter from Argyle, sophomore Laura Lotze made her debut at the state meet on Friday two years after Jessie Johnson capped her career with a third straight gold medal in the event.
Lotze finished seventh in 3A, clearing 10-6, six inches shy of her qualifying height. Kally Long, a Wimberley senior, repeated as the gold medalist and broke Johnson’s Class 3A meet record of 13-1 by one inch.
The story of the event was Emory Rains junior Charlotte Brown, who is blind and requires a guide dog. She finished tied for fourth by clearing 11 feet.
Perez sets personal best
In a venue where several athletes set personal bests in their respective events, Guyer senior Tony Perez was no different.
Perez was the Guyer boys’ best finisher at the state meet Friday other than Hunter’s silver-medal run in the 300 hurdles with a fifth-place finish in the 4A boys 800-meter run.
Perez’s time of 1:53.69 was nearly two seconds better than his previous personal best.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.