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Track & field: Tough regional competition awaits Ryan

Profile image for By Ben Baby
By Ben Baby

A few of Ryan’s track and field athletes were focused on boys coach Janson Head’s computer, ignoring the awards from the previous weekend’s area meet.

For a few minutes Monday morning, everybody was fixated on Head’s weekend project — a compilation of the top times from around the state.

Head’s spreadsheet told the Raiders what they already knew. Shaving seconds off one’s fastest time doesn’t mean they’re gaining ground on the competition.

When Ryan lines up for the Class 5A Region I meet today and Saturday at Texas Tech, the Raiders will be running in arguably the state’s fastest region.

“It’s the toughest region,” Head said. “You’re going to have to beat some really, really good teams to get there. If you go to state and you get out of Region I, you’ve earned your trip for sure.”

The Raiders will send six individuals and all three relay teams to the regional meet in Lubbock.

Only the top two finishers in each event will reach the state meet in Austin on May 9 and 10. The top remaining regional mark in each event across the state will earn a wild card berth at the state meet as the event’s ninth qualifier.

Throughout the year, Ryan has posted fast times in relays. The 800-meter relay team ran a season-low 1:26.29 at the District 5-5A/6-5A area meet, second only to DeSoto in the region and area.

However, the relay team dropped down to the 12th-fastest high school time in the nation, according to DyeStat. Five of the top 15 times are from 5A Region I.

Duncanville coach Derek Dorris agreed with Head’s evaluation of the region. Dorris said his athletes have been told to expect quality competition.

“We tell them they’d better get their minds right and they better have prepared properly, mentally and physically, and they’d better leave it all on the track, or else it’ll be their last run of the year,” Dorris said.

Head said he will put junior Terell Cross back on the opening leg of the relay. Junior Jordan Murray momentarily filled Cross’ spot and Head was very pleased with Murray’s performance, but he decided to put the speedy Cross back on the 800, along with junior Maurice Gordon, senior Paul Hunter and senior Cameron Williams.

Head said Gordon also will rejoin the 400 relay team, which set a school record last week with a time of 41.60 seconds.

“He’s running just as well as any kid I’ve had,” Head said. “To put a kid like that back on the [400 relay], it’s got to help us. And then I put him at first leg, which is something he’s never run before, and I’ve never put arguably one of my fastest kids on the first leg.”

Gordon also has a chance to reach the state meet individually. Gordon enters the regional meet with the third-fastest 200 time in the region (21.89).

“I’ve been running hard during practice and making sure I’m not satisfied in my runs and just concentrating on getting my runs better every day,” Gordon said.

Since 2010, the Raiders have sent six relay teams to the state meet and won two gold medals and two bronze medals.

Senior A.J. George was on Ryan’s 1,600 relay team that finished fourth at the 5A meet last year. George said he believes the Raiders are running much stronger at this point this year and he’s hoping they can escape the regional meet and secure spots in Austin.

“It’d be amazing,” George said. “And for us to get first, that’s our goal.”