Marble Falls High School's sophomore Jaden Johnson fights for third in the 1,600 meters against Boerne Champion’s Molly Breuer and Dripping Springs’s Izzie Guerrero. Breuer was third in 5:33.36, while Johnson was fourth in 5:33.43. Guerrero was fifth in 5:33.61. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
KERRVILLE — Marble Falls High School girls track-and-field head coach Anthony Torns said the runner-up finish in the team standings at the District 26-5A meet April 4-5 came down to two races.
The first was the 300-meter hurdles featuring sophomore Rylie Ulbricht, who was in third place with one hurdle to step over to get to the finish line and advance to the area meet. It was the third time she had ever competed in the event.
Instead, Ulbricht hit that last hurdle and fell.
The other was the 1,600-meter run. While Marble Falls sophomore Ambrie Lizcano easily took second in 5 minutes 31.30 seconds, the finish for third and fourth places, the final two spots to qualify for area, is what caught the attention of onlookers. Lady Mustang Jaden Johnson, a sophomore, was in a footrace with Boerne Champion’s Molly Breuer and Dripping Springs’s Izzie Guerrero. Breuer finished third in 5:33.36, while Johnson was fourth in 5:33.43, and Guerrero was fifth in 5:33.61.
“Jaden has had some ups and downs all year,” Torns said, “but she has a kick like Leo (Manzano). If she is within 50 meters, I don’t think there’s anyone she can’t outrun. Jaden stepped up and came through.”
Manzano is a 2004 Marble Falls High School graduate and the 2012 London Olympics silver medalist in the men’s 1,500 meters. He is known for his closing speed toward the end of a race — his “kick.”
In five years as the head coach of the Lady Mustangs, Torns’s athletes have never finished worse than third in the team district standings, and that was only by half a point.
“I have small groups of girls,” he said. “Ten, 12, 14 girls who believed in everything we did that scored. We maximize what we have. They believe and trust in the process.”
Marble Falls freshman Bailey Goggans, who has the fifth-fastest time (2:11.39) in the nation in the 800 meters, took double gold at district in the 400- and 800-meter races. She led both events from start to finish. Her 55.38 seconds in the 400 meters set a new personal best. She clocked 2:13.11 in the 800 meters.
When Goggans took the track for the 800 meters, athletes and coaches from each district school lined the rope around the infield wanting to see the freshman run. They weren’t disappointed as she easily won by at least 10 meters, proving it’s not hype if it’s true.
“I want to do the best I can for God,” she said. “He gave me this gift. I want to make him proud.”
Torns said part of Goggans’s success is her dedication to the sport, which includes nutrition, rest, workouts, and all the little bits that contribute to being the best.
“Her training plan has been put together and catered to push her to run those times,” he said. “All those behind-the-scenes stuff help her be this elite athlete.”
Boerne Champion won the team title with 189 points to the Lady Mustangs’ 120.
“Champion has great coaches who get the girls out,” Torns said. “They have great girls who are extremely motivated to run and work hard for their coaches.”
Marble Falls senior T.J. Stephenson is the district champion in pole vaulting after clearing 14 feet 6 inches. Mustang Kason O’Reilly, a freshman, was second in the high jump with 6-02. Both advanced to the area meet, which is April 19 at Toney Burger Activity Center and Stadium, 602 E. Fourth St. in Austin.