It’s fitting that an athlete with ties to Greenville would break a college record at the 93rd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin.
Tara Davis, whose father Ty Davis, grandmother Roz Lane, grandfather Reecy Davis Jr. and great-grandfather Reecy Davis Sr. were from Greenville, broke former Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s 36-year-old women’s collegiate long jump record with a leap of 23 feet, 5 1/4 inches. Davis, who is a sophomore at the University of Texas, became the first women’s college long jumper to leap past 23 feet with a legal wind.
She now owns three national records, also including the high school indoor record (21-11) and the college indoor record (22-9).
She’s qualified to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team during the trials at Eugene, Oregon in June.
What’s fitting about the accomplishment is the relays are named for the late Clyde Littlefield, who began his coaching career at Greenville High School, coaching from 1916-19. Littlefield coached the Lions to an “unofficial” state football championship in 1919, the year before the University Interscholastic League started recognizing state football championships.
The Lions also won state track and field team titles in 1915 and 1916 under Littlefield, before he headed to the University of Texas to coach football and track and field.
Littlefield was the Longhorns’ head track and field coach from 1920 to 1961, guiding them to 25 Southwest Conference team championships. He also served on the U.S. track and field coaching staff for the 1952 Olympics and also coached the Longhorns’ football team to a 44-18-6 record and two SWC titles.
Not only are the relays named for Littlefield but also a city street in Austin near the Mike A. Myers track stadium.
Davis has been on my radar for a long time, thanks to her grandmother, who keeps me posted. Tara started setting records in the long jump and hurdles in summer track as a youngster before she went to high school in Agoura Hills, California. Her father Ty, who was a hurdler and a sprinter for the Lions back in 1988-90, has coached his daughter.
The Reecy Davis Sr. Recreation Center in Greenville is named for her late great-grandfather, who was a middleweight boxer.
Davis wasn’t the only track and field athlete with ties to Hunt County that won events at the relays in Austin. Texas A&M University-Commerce high jumper Ushan Perera, who is a freshman from Mahabage, Sri Lanka, won the men’s high jump with an outstanding clearance of 7 feet, 5 3/4 inches. Perera also recently won the NCAA Division II indoor title recently with a clearance of 7-5.
A&M-Commerce’s Nicodemus Rotich, who is from Eldoret, Kenya, also won the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 8:50.48.
The victories by A&M-Commerce at the Texas Relays were the Lions’ first wins at that meet in 61 years.
Congratulations to Quinlan Ford powerlifter Colt Cooper for his victory in the Division 2 275-pound class at last weekend’s state powerlifting meet in Abilene.
Cooper squatted 725, benched 430 and deadlifted 645 for his winning total of 1,800 pounds.
Unlike most lifters, Cooper didn’t have to cut weight to make his weight limit at the weigh-in. He had to gain weight as he was moving up from the 242-pound class. Cooper went over the 242-pound mark by only .02 of a pound. Being the lightest lifter in his weight class paid off for Cooper after Landon Henke of Needville matched Cooper’s total with 1,800. But Henke weighed 265 at the weigh-in and the Texas High School Powerlifting Association breaks ties by weight. The lighter lifter gets the nod.
Little Colt tagged along with his father Chawn Cooper as dad coached state champion powerlifters at Greenville, Caddo Mills and other schools. One of those state champion powerlifters, Alex Lowry of Caddo Mills, is an assistant coach with the Ford powerlifting team. Lowry still holds the Division 3 state records for the superheavyweights in the squats (800) and total (1,920).
Lowry was an all-state offensive lineman for the Caddo Mills Foxes in 2008 and also played football at Rice.
David Claybourn is sports editor of the Herald-Banner.