JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — Three area track-and-field athletes are headed to Austin for the state meet May 12-14.
Marble Falls High School senior Natalie Schulz will make her third consecutive state appearance in Class 5A.
It’s the first state meet for Burnet sophomore hurdler Ian Carter and Llano senior pole vaulter Cody Miller, who will compete in Class 4A.
The meet is at the Mike Myers Track Complex on the University of Texas in Austin campus, 707 Clyde Littlefield Drive in Austin.
Schulz is competing in three events after finishing second in all three at the Class 5A Region IV meet April 29-30:
• triple jump at 6:30 p.m. May 12. She enters with the ninth-best mark at 36 feet 2½ inches among the field.
• long jump at noon May 13. She enters with the ninth-best leap at 17-1½.
• 300-meter hurdles at 8:45 p.m. May 13. She enters with the seventh-fastest time at 44.67 seconds.
Miller will compete at 3 p.m. May 13 and has the seventh-best clearance of the field at 14-09. Carter runs the 110-meter hurdles at 2:05 p.m. May 14 and has the fourth-fastest time at 14.68 seconds.
One difference between other track meets and the state meet is all events are finals; there are no running preliminary races.
Marble Falls girls head track coach Anthony Torns noted that Schulz suffered some bad luck during the Class 5A Region IV meet.
She barely scratched on her final attempt in the long jump. Had that one counted, she would have had a mark of at least 18 feet. In addition, she hit the first of eight hurdles in her running event, which threw off her rhythm for the first five hurdles.
But aside from those circumstances, Torns said he saw another element in Schulz’s approach that demonstrates her competitiveness.
“Everything didn’t go as we wanted it to go,” he said. “Her attitude stayed very positive. When it came time for her to jump, we were going to go battle it out. She had that aura that I’m just going to will myself to state. If I don’t make it, it’s because someone beat me.”
And since Schulz has earned a track scholarship to Angelo State University, that attitude will serve her will, he said.
Miller received the wild card entry, which means he had the best mark among the four bronze medalists at the four regional meets.
“We knew he was one of the best in the state,” said athletic director and head track coach Craig Slaughter. “So I started calling around.”
Slaughter said he got one result pretty quickly and then waited a little longer on the other two. But the wait didn’t take away from the excitement of the moment, he said.
And though the pole vaulter will be making his first appearance, Slaughter said he’s not worried the atmosphere will be too much.
“Cody is mature and very calm,” he said. “He’s not up and down. He’s rock steady.”
The same can be said of Carter, who will return to Myers Stadium after placing third in the Texas Relays Division I meet in the same event April 2.
He finished in 14.78 seconds. At the Class 4A Region VI meet, he was second in 14.68 seconds.
Still, Carter said be believes running at the state meet will feel differently from when he ran at the Texas Relays. But being there already should serve him well.
“I’ve run on that track twice,” he said. “I feel like I belong there.”
Bushland sophomore Remington Crossnoe and Stafford senior Caleb Parker enter the race with the fastest times, each at 14.53 seconds, while Aubrey junior Grayson Grisso clocked 14.57.
To get faster, Carter said he has been focusing on his technique, specifically exploding off his lead leg during the three-step pattern.
Burnet hurdlers coach Jerod Rye said coaches aren’t surprised by Carter’s success, noting his competitive nature, work ethic and desire to improve.
Torns summed up the thoughts of most athletes and coaches who are preparing for the state meet and might not be considered favorites.
“You never know,” he said. “That’s why we run the race and jump the jumps. You never know.”