AUSTIN — In each of the past two seasons, the Ryan Raiders’ boys 1,600 relay team found itself receiving a silver medal at the conclusion of the Class 4A state meet at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium.
The Raiders almost pulled off the feat this year, despite a move up in classification to 5A, but came up short of that third straight trip to the podium with a fourth-place finish on Saturday night.
Ryan’s quartet of A.J. George, Terrell Cross, Zac Black and Korey Chappell finished in 3:16.73, just behind the bronze-medal winning team from Houston Nimitz, which made the podium at 3:15.02. Converse Judson won the state title at 3:13.88, holding off Humble Kingwood in 3:13.99
The Raiders weren’t pushed for fourth, ahead of Fort Bend Bush by more than a second, but Ryan, which came into the meet with the third-best qualifying time at 3:15.92, made a valiant attempt to close the gap it faced.
There was a pack of seven teams at the front on the second leg and Cross was in the thick of the chase and has the field started to take shape, Black found himself in fourth. He slipped into fifth for a few meters but regained his position on the handoff to Chappell.
Unfortunately the deficit was too much to overcome despite Chappell’s charge down the stretch as Judson and Kingwood started to slow up.
Chappell, the lone senior, and Cross, who was returning to state as a sophomore, were on last year’s relay that took the silver behind El Paso Burges. Despite the loss of Sterling Fuggett and Daniel Martin as legs to a successful relay, Ryan plugged in juniors Black and George without skipping a beat.
Before heading to state, head coach Janson Head said the Raiders would need to break the school record of 3:15.10 by half a second to be in position to get back on the podium.
Even if Ryan would have done that, they still would have been short in the extremely fast race.