STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
AUSTIN — Three Highland Lakes athletes representing District 19-4A brought home medals from the Class 4A state track-and-field meet May 12-13.
Burnet juniors Ian Carter and Sterling Galban finished second and third in the 110-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash, respectively, while Llano junior Ray Dixon took home a bronze medal in the shot put and finished fourth in the discus.
Carter ran a new personal best by finishing in 14.20 seconds for the silver medal in the hurdles. Aubrey senior Grayson Grisso clocked 14.11 seconds to nab the gold medal.
Galban, who is an Iowa State University football commit, finished in 10.69 seconds. Silsbee junior Kalon Barnes won gold in 10.22 seconds to set a new Class 4A record, while Wichita Falls Hirschi senior Roman Turner was second in 10.34 seconds.
“I’m satisfied with the medal,” Galban said. “I’m proud of what I did. As a football player, it’s my first year to compete in track.”
Galban plans to graduate in December to enroll at ISU in January 2018.
Because of windy conditions May 13, track officials decided to have the hurdlers run on one straightaway, while asking the sprinters to compete on the other straightaway.
Carter said he was feeling confident as he went to the blocks to get in position to race.
“My legs were feeling good,” he said. “I thought, ‘I think I got this.’ I sat in my block and thought, ‘This is your time.’”
After Carter captured silver, he said he was able to watch Galban sprint his way to bronze.
Galban also felt good as he warmed up and headed to the blocks.
“I felt fresh with recovery,” he said. “I was excited to compete.”
As he was running, he felt himself drift to one side. Not wanting to get disqualified, he corrected himself back to the middle. That move cost him a fraction of a second, he said.
Just like they have been doing all season, the duo continued to practice together the past two weeks to get ready for the state meet.
They continued their speed training, often running up the hill near Burnet Middle School. They also fine-tuned their starts and form.
It was fitting for Carter and Galban to each medal considering how much the two trained together, pushed each other, and cheered for one another.
“He’s been a huge help,” Carter said. “I wouldn’t have done it without him. We pushed ourselves to the limit. God has blessed us with great talent.”
“He’s meant a lot,” Galban said of Carter. “We motivated each other. We competed in practice. It’s good to have competition. All glory to God.”
The most challenging portion of the meet for Dixon on May 12 was putting aside the disappointment of finishing fourth in discus with a throw of 155 feet and 8 inches and focusing on the shot put. Cuero senior Caeveon Patton finished third with a toss of 155-9. Port Isabel senior Sidney Mock captured gold with a throw of 175-4, while Graham senior Jack Hays was second with a mark of 156-4.
During the six hours between the discus and shot put, Llano throwing coach Clint Easley told Dixon to avoid the trap of wanting to throw harder.
“It’s like a hitter,” he said. “No matter how hard you swing, you seldom hit a home run.”
So instead, Easley told Dixon to have a calm reassurance.
“Be smooth and make it happen,” he said.
That proved to be invaluable advice as Dixon walked back out to the throwing pit for the shot put, where he had a heave of 52-10¾ for bronze. Graham junior Hunter Dooley won gold with a mark of 54-2¼, and Melissa senior Gunnar Murphy finished second with a heave of 53-4¼.
“(Dixon is) one of the hardest-working kids I’ve coached,” Easley said. “He’s been fun to be with. He wants to improve.”
Llano head coach Craig Slaughter said Dixon had his medal-winning throw on his fourth attempt and had to wait until another athlete, who had the best chance to push the Yellow Jacket to fourth, had his last attempt.
“It’s a useless feeling when the person you’re chasing is throwing after you,” he said.
Dixon is Slaughter’s first athlete to earn a state track-and-field medal in about a decade.
“Ray is one of those kids who’s not in danger of losing that determination,” the coach said. “This plants the seed for next year.”