By DAVID CLAYBOURN
Kenya Smith, Hailey Nelson, Chloe Wall, J’Kaylee Clark and D’Lance Sharp won medals, while Rains pole vaulter Charlotte Brown won a lot of hearts again with her performance on Friday at the state track and field championships.
Smith and Nelson, in their first appearances at the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Championships, claimed silver medals in the Class A Division I and 2A high jump competitions. Clark of Farmersville claimed silver in the girls 2A 400-meter dash.
Smith, who is a sophomore from Wolfe City, cleared 5 feet 4 inches to finish second behind Kaitlin Lumpkins of Junction (5-5).
“I did my best,” said Smith, who admitted she was nervous.
“She did great for a sophomore,” said Wolfe City coach Jonathan Lloyd. “We have two more really good years.”
Nelson, a senior from Farmersville, cleared 5-5 for her runner-up finish in 2A. Sarah Walker of Schulenburg cleared 5-6 to take the gold medal.
“I wish I would have cleared first but I can’t go back and change it,” said Nelson.
Nelson was one of four state qualifiers for the Farmersville Lady Farmers. Nelson said the Lady Farmers worked very hard in practice.
“The past week has been our hardest practices,” she said.
Clark’s hard work paid off with the silver in the 2A 400-meter dash, clocking a career-best 57.27. Last year she finished eighth in the race after misjudging the finish line.
“This year I was like, ‘Keep running. Keep running,’” said Clark, who is a sophomore. “That was my best time. I was happy.”
Clark said she plans to make it back to state.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “The next two years. My ultimate goal is to win.”
Brown, who last year became the first legally blind athlete to compete in this meet, cleared 11 feet to tie for fourth place in the Class 3A pole vault. Last year she finished eighth.
“Today wasn’t my best day jumping,” said Brown, who cleared 11-3 at the region meet in Commerce. “I look at it as I went up four places. Next year I’ll try to go up four more places.”
Many of the 8,000 plus fans in attendance during the vaulting competition kept a close watch on Brown, not to mention media photographers and film crews from ESPN and other television outlets. Brown said she blocked out the cameras in her mind while she competed and blocked out the crowd noise with ear plugs.
Even with ear plugs, Brown still heard a beeper set by Rains athletic director Derek Smith to help Brown find her way down the pole vault runway. Her guide dog, Vador, helped her find her way around Mike A. Myers Stadium.
“He keeps me from bumping my head on trees, getting hit by cars, all that good stuff,” said Brown.
Wall, a Farmersville freshman, cleared a career-best 11-6 to finish third in the 2A girls pole vault.
“I’m happy,” said Wall, who improved two feet in height from district to state.
Wall admitted that she was “very nervous” while making her first appearance at state.
“But I was ready to come out here and compete,” she said.
Sharp, a junior from Commerce, was third in the 2A boys 400-meter dash, dipping below 49 seconds for the first time with a 48.62 time.
“I was feeling good until the last 100,” said Sharp. “My legs started burning. I had to fight through it.”
Sharp said he was nervous in his first state appearance.
“I was nervous at first until the gun went off,” he said. “Once the gun went off I was ready to roll.”
Brittyn Rushing of Leonard, making her second straight state appearance, leaped 17-1/4 to place fifth in the Class 2A girls long jump. Last year she finished seventh.
Smith from Wolfe City was also sixth in the Class A Division I long jump, later in the evening, leaping 16-9 3/4.
Lone Oak’s Trevor Hemphill, in his second straight trip to state, wound up sixth in the 2A boys 800-meter run at 1:59.96. Hemphill was ninth after the first lap and moved up to fourth on the back stretch of the second lap before giving way at the finish.
Farmersville triple jumper Karlee Young was ninth in the 2A competition, leaping 34-7 3/4.
Lone Oak senior Hanah Nichol, in her third appearance in the state track and field meet, was ninth in the girls 3200-meter run at 13:13.38.
Grant Russell of Rains competes today in the 3A boys triple jump and Keely Morrow from Community runs in the 3A girls 800 meters.