AUSTIN — Reese Thompson didn’t have the start to his final day as a high school athlete that he was hoping for Saturday.
Whether it was the fact that he rolled an ankle at the regional meet two weeks ago and didn’t practice last week, or the pressure of being a Texas signee running at Mike A. Myers Stadium being too much, the Argyle senior fell flat in his opening event Saturday at the UIL state track and field meet.
Thompson had a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Class 3A boys pole vault after entering the meet with the second-best qualifying height, but it might have been a blessing in disguise in regard to his second event of the day.
“We were worried about having to get him over from the pole vault and go immediately and run [the 110-meter hurdles],” Argyle coach Steve Chancelor said. “It worked out we had some time to get him warmed up and all that. Of course, we were a little worried about his mental state having that disappointment, but it’s a testament to him that he’s able to bounce back from that.”
With plenty of time to refocus, Thompson ran what he called a “perfect race” in the 110 hurdles, winning the event in a new personal-best time of 14.12 seconds.
“I wanted to put all my hard work to use and make it worth it,” said Thompson, who will participate in the decathlon for the Longhorns. “I was disappointed in the pole vault and wanted to come out and do my very best in the 110s and get some redemption. Sure enough, I executed perfectly and I ran a good race.”
It also was a perfect way for Thompson to end a high school career that’s been filled with adversity.
As a sophomore, Thompson seemed to be on his way to a decorated career at the state meet when he finished third in the 3A pole vault to follow in older brother Kyle’s footsteps. Instead, Thompson missed out on the state meet as a junior despite having the best time in the state in the 110 hurdles after he came down with mononucleosis prior to the District 10-3A meet.
He was able to return for the regional meet as part of Argyle’s relay teams but couldn’t punch a ticket to Austin.
The adversity continued with his ankle injury two weeks ago that forced him to miss a week of practice leading up to the state meet, and seemed to come to a head with his disappointing finish Saturday in the pole vault, when he failed to clear 15 feet, 6 inches and topped out at 15-0.
Then, of course, came his perfect race, and Chancelor was happy to see his senior bounce back.
“It’s a testament to him that you can have something bad and not let it affect you in the next events,” Chancelor said. “With a lot of kids, it puts you in the tank and you can’t come back.
“It’s awesome he was able to come back this year after having that misfortune.”
It was special for Thompson to close one stage of his career before beginning the next one in the same venue, even if it did add some pressure on his shoulders.
“I love pressure, and I do good under pressure,” Thompson said. “It helped me to execute my race perfectly and it worked out good for me. It felt so good to run at my next home.”
Sanger duo medal in mile
Sanger’s Jacob Perry had a chance to pull off a distance double Saturday after his gold-medal run in the 3,200 on Friday.
But in Saturday’s 1,600, Perry was held off by future Texas A&M teammate Taylor Clayton of Decatur, as Perry earned a silver medal with a time of 4:26.23. Unlike his two-mile victory, Perry was joined by a current teammate on the medal stand in the form of fellow senior Josh Mills, who narrowly claimed the bronze medal in 4:28.43.
“It helps a lot,” Mills said of having a runner of Perry’s caliber as a teammate and training partner. “This summer I was training with him and he was beating me pretty handily. At the district meet, I hung with him in the mile and Taylor, too, and it gave me a lot of confidence. I felt like I could go out there and do whatever I wanted.”
The race didn’t start well for Mills, who will run at Abilene Christian next year. He said his legs felt dead before the race began, and he was boxed in in the middle of the pack for much of the race before making a late charge to the finish line and clipping Alvarado’s Justin Domangue by four-hundredths of a second.
“I wanted to tuck in behind them and waste as little energy as possible and just hang on,” Mills said.
Perry and Clayton were battling throughout the race. Perry’s strategy was to let Clayton take the lead out of the gates and keep it until the final 200-300 meters. But Clayton never let Perry catch him.
“The last turn in the third lap, I slowed up and two guys got in between me and him and he got about a two-second cushion on me,” Perry said of Clayton, who won in 4:25.97. “Then with about 500 meters left I had to put on a huge burst just to get up there and catch up to him. That took some energy out of me.”
Sanger well represented
The Indians had several other athletes compete Saturday at the state meet.
The Indians finished fifth in the Class 3A boys 800 relay in 1:28.18, just seven-hundredths short of fourth-place Bellville. The Indians’ team consisted of Josh Secrest, Wyatt Broxson, Tre’von Jackson and Kion Evans.
On the girls side, Sanger junior Madi Wilson finished a personal-best sixth in the discus after seventh-place finishes to cap her freshman and sophomore seasons. Wilson’s best throw measured 120-2.
Sanger freshman Bre Henderson finished eighth in the girls 400, clocking a 59.69.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.