I have written in the past how the various meets held at Mike Myers stadium are among the most overlooked and under appreciated sporting events held in Austin. Some die-hard track fans still grouse about how the State Meet has not been the same since they tore out the track in Memorial Stadium and to some degree they are correct. You just do not have the same electricity in the crowd at Myers for the simple reason you are not going to fill that stadium with 30-40,000 as did happen back in the day at Memorial Stadium. The venue was unique from that perspective, but to stay focused on what was in my minds precludes you from enjoying a great event in a great venue. The views from and in the stadium are no less eye-catching and the level of competition is still among the very, very best in the country.
My family and I enjoy visiting Austin and truly appreciate the pure nature of the competition exhibited at the meet. That might not be enough to draw some in, but also remember that some of the State’s top 2014, 2015, and 2016 football recruits will be competing in a forum that gives a unique perspective on many of them. UIL Meet site can be found at https: www.uiltexas.org/track-field.state and included are a meet schedule, lane assignments, and ticket information.
Here is a primer for those who might be interested in attending on some of the recruits and events to watch for Friday and Saturday:
Class A – Saturday, May 10th – Class A rarely provides the quality of times/distances you find with the larger classification (Son of Davey attended a Class A Regional Qualifier where no boys’ 4x100 ran under 43.5 as opposed to multiple freshman boys’ 4x100 that I know that went under 43 this year in the Houston area.), but the competition is still strong and you do find the occasional athlete who can compete at the higher levels.
That athlete this year in A is L.J Collier of Munday. The 2014 TCU defensive line prospect is ranked in the Nation’s Top 10 discuss throwers with a State’s best distance of 194’ 2". Collier is capable of going over 200’ at the meet and is a very interesting prospect for the Frogs. His combination of very long arms, great feet/balance, and explosive lower body strength make him an elite thrower.
Class AAA – Saturday, May 10th – Unlike years past with Celina and WOS, AAA this year just does not have the number of teams/individuals who can hold their own with their AAAA and AAAAA peers. There is talent and I think the boys’ 4x100M and 4x200M relays. All nine qualifying boys’ 4x100M relays (Including Gilmer and DB prospect Kris Boyd) posted qualifying times within 0.50 seconds of each other and five of the 4x200M relays were within the same margin.
One individual AAA performer who garners attention is Splendora’s Jay Bradford (A&M 2015 RB pledge). Bradford has a realistic chance to win multiple individual medals as he has the 3rd fastest qualifying 100M time (10.63), the 7th fastest 200M time (22.06), the longest LJ (23’ 9 1/4"), and the longest TJ (47’ 5 ½"). Aside from being a powerfully built athlete with great speed the schedule sets up well for Jay in his first three events. The AAA boys’ long jumps is actually Friday, the 9th, at 4:30 PM, the triple jump is the next day at 4:00 PM, and the 100M won’t be run for at least 2 hours after Bradford has finished his field events. It is not farfetched he win at least three medals and it is easy to see why he might be the best athlete in the 2015 recruiting class.
Class AAAA – Friday, May 9th – if you could only make one of the two days my suggestion is for Friday night as Class AAAA projects to be the strongest group of sprinters/ team this year. Multiple qualifiers in the boys’ 4x100M relay, 4x200M relay, 100M, and 200M are not only among the State’s best, but the Nation.
This is especially true in the 4x100M relay where six teams have run under 41.0 at least once this year and five had qualifying times between 40.9 and 41.4. Fastest among the qualifiers is Summer Creek at 40.9 and includes Aaron Sharp (the most athletic 2014 recruit that no one talked about and is headed to UCLA). Fort Bend Marshall is next at 41.1 and features 2015 Top CB prospect Kendall Sheffield (who also qualified in the 110H at 13.95 and the 300H at 37.98.). Two other teams and two other runners to note are Brenham (41.12) with 2014 Baylor track prospect Malik Wilson (10.33 in the 100M and 20.9 in the 200M) and Texarkana (41.38) with 2014 Baylor track prospect Kevin Harris (20.68 in the 200M). Harris is a true hammer on that fourth leg for Texarkana and if his teammates can get him close at the end he has the ability to run down any of the eight other anchor legs in this race.
Two teams stand-out going into the 4x200M relay and are capable of running in the 1:24 range. Texarkana (1:25:17) with the above mentioned future Bear Harris and Lancaster (1:25: 23) with DB prospect Elijah Boyd.
Individuals in the 100M to note are Baylor WR recruit K.D. Cannon of Mt. Pleasant (10.37 in the 100M and also posted a 200M of 21.42 and TJ’d 45’ 1 ¾"), 2015 WR recruit Ryan Newsome of Aledo (10.38), and Baylor Track prospect Wilson of Brenham.
The 200M features should be just as strong with three runners who have gone under 21.0 in Kevin Harris of Texarkana, Elijah Morrow of Waller, and Summer Creek’s Aaron Sharp.
Tech linebacker recruit Dakota Allen will compete in the shot (56’ 6 ¼") as well as Baylor 2014 OL recruit Blake Blackmar in the shot and discuss (56’ 9" and 171’).
Finally, AAAA this year offers a unique opportunity for 2014 UF track recruit Keandre Bates of EP. Bates has the states best TJ of 50’ 1 ½" with no one really in AAAA capable of pushing him. He could also medal in the LJ (23’ 8 ¾") and the HJ (6’8"). His biggest challenge will be the schedule as the LJ and HJ are both scheduled for 10:30 AM on the 9th followed by the TJ at 2:30PM that afternoon.
Class AAAAA – Saturday, May 10th – it might not have the number of 2014 football recruits as AAAA, but there is some great talent competing and a few 2015 and 2016 names to remember.
Coming into the Meet you don’t have the number of relay teams that have posted the times as their AAAA peers, but there is talent and winning times should be among the nation’s best.
The 4x200M relay and the 4x400M relay feature team’s that could run the Nation’s fastest times in those events. DeSoto has run 1:24:24 this year (featuring 9th grader Landon Dunn who has posted a 10.6 100M) and could easily run in the 1:23’s and Temple has run in the 1:24’s this year. One note on Temple is that relay team this year has be comprised of 1 senior, 2 juniors, and 2 sophomores. I don’t know if they can play football, but I do know they should start the track season next year among the nation’s best units. Those interested in the recruiting perspective should also note Longview (1:27:22) includes 2014 TCU DB Travion Howard and 2015 Baylor RB pledge J. Hasty as well as Manvel (1:25:09). That Manvel group is one that I mentioned when I wrote about the 2014 Texas Relays and has included this year 2016 WR prospect Reginald Hemphill and 2016 DB prospect Deontay Anderson.
The boys’ AAAAA 4x400M relay will be the final event of the meet and it should be a great show. Arlington Martin has the Nation’s 2nd fastest time at 3:13:84 and could be challenged by Killeen Harker Heights (3:14:55) among others.
Four individual events stand out to me. The 100M features two lesser regarded 2015 recruits in Darrion Flowers of Arlington Sam Houston (a nation’s best of 10.27) and Patrick Carr of The Woodlands (10.56 as well as jumping 23’ 11 ½" in the LJ).
Devante Lacey of Klein Oak has been alone in Texas’ in the 400M for the past month with a best time of 46.88 (Top 5 Nationally), but he could be challenged by Cager Jack of Belton who recently ran 47.15 at regionals.
Finally, two events have fields that might be the deepest ever in the event at the State Meet. The AAAAA TJ features three jumpers who have the potential to go over 50’ in the event. Alvin Chikaeze of Garland Lakeview Centennial has the best qualifying jump in AAAAA at 49’ 5". Going into regionals he had been in the 46-47’range before he popped out to 49+’. Jordan Thomas of Klein Collins (2014 OU DB recruit) was second to Chikaeze at regionals with a best of 48’ 5 1/4". Thomas did not start competing in track until the district meet and has only competed in three meets all year. He is familiar with the runway at Myers stadium, has plus speed, and jumps early in the competition. My favorite though is Kerwin Roach of Galena Park North Shore. As with the other two jumpers he is familiar with the Myer’s runway and much like Thomas he hasn’t been jumping much this year. The lanky junior started for GPNS’ state champion basketball team and didn’t start the TJ in meets until March. If you have seen him jump you know he has that long stride and his build lends itself to a big jump.
This year ~30 high school boys have gone under 1:54 in the 800M. Saturday night 5 of those runners will compete in Austin in a field that has to be not only one of the best in the nation this year, but quite possibly the strongest ever in Texas high school history. Two of the runners have gone under 1:52 and Kingwood junior Myles Marshall (1:51:53 this year and 1:51:32) is thought of in some circles as a 2016 Olympic prospect.
Chances are I am just talking to myself in this post which is cool as I fully realize track and field is not exactly a mainstream spectator sport. I just hope that I can get a few who are in the area this weekend to give it a try as I did not even touch on the distance nor girls’ events and the level of competition is among the nations’ very best.