Llano High School senior Ray Dixon has the second-best mark in the shot put headed into the Class 4A state track-and-field meet with a heave of 52 feet 11 inches. Photo by Martelle and Briezie Luedecke/Luedecke Photography
STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — Several Highland Lakes track-and-field athletes are entering the state meet as favorites in their events.
The state meet is Friday-Saturday, May 11-12, at Mike A. Myers Stadium, 707 Clyde Littlefield Drive in Austin.
The University Interscholastic League released running lane assignments and orders of throwers that included times and distances recorded at regional meets April 27-28.
Among the top runners are Marble Falls High School freshman Bailey Goggans in the 400 meters and 800 meters in Class 5A, Burnet senior Ian Carter in the 110-meter high hurdles in Class 4A, and Llano freshman Anna Casey in the 800 meters and 1,600 meters in Class 4A. Llano senior thrower Ray Dixon is a favorite in the shot put in Class 4A.
While having favorites to medal brings a lot of anticipation, Marble Falls girls track head coach Anthony Torns noted it also brings out an athlete’s competitiveness and challenges coaches not to do anything out of the ordinary.
His runner, Goggans, has the fastest 800-meter time in the state with the 2 minutes 10.01 seconds she turned in at the Class 5A Region IV meet two weeks earlier. So his challenge has remained the same — prepare her without changing her routine and treat her like everyone else — something most coaches across the region can relate to.
“Every athlete has nerves, every great one,” he said. “It’s what happens after the whistle or gun goes off. She goes off and puts together her race the way she needs to. We haven’t talked about her being the favorite. She knows you got to go out here and execute and earn it. Go out here and focus on what we do well. I try to keep her normal, just another kid. We’re just letting her know she has to execute one more time.”
She’ll run the 800 meters at 5:20 p.m. Friday and take the track again 85 minutes later for the 400 meters.
Frisco Heritage senior Bailey Lear has the fastest time in the state at 53.35 seconds. Goggans clocked 55.55 seconds at the regional meet. She is one of five runners who are running at 55 seconds.
The first Highland Lakes athlete to compete at the state meet will be Llano senior Meagan Riley in the 3,200-meter run at 10 a.m. Friday for Class 4A. All nine athletes in that race have finished in under 12 minutes with a couple clocking 11:30. Riley’s Class 4A Region III time was 11:44.75.
Another close race is the 110-meter high hurdles with each athlete running under 15 seconds. But only one is a tenth of a second faster than the field, and that’s Carter. The Bulldog, who clocked 14.40 at the Class 4A Region IV meet April 28, is looking for gold a year after earning a silver medal in the same event in 2017. Carter will run at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
Casey has the fastest 1,600-meter time in the Class 4A race after finishing in 5:15.07 at regionals. She and senior teammate Meagan Riley, who clocked 5:21.15 at regionals, will compete at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
Casey also has the second-fastest time in the 800 meters in her race, which is at 12:20 p.m. Saturday, after running 2:17.18.
Dixon aims to improve on his 2017 state bronze medal in the shot put. He has the second-best heave of the nine throwers with a mark of 52 feet 11 inches from the Class 4A Region III meet two weeks ago. Aransas Pass senior Matthew Butler has the best heave at 53-7¼. Dixon throws the shot put at 10 a.m. Saturday.
But first, he’ll compete in the discus at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Teammate Courtney Reina, a junior, will throw the shot put at 6 p.m. Friday
Torns summed up the feelings of track-and-field coaches as he thought of the talent-rich state of Texas and the favorites.
“The talent pool is deep,” he said. “It’s not going to be a race where Bailey is going to be able to go in and expect to win without earning it. If you look at the 400, there’s not a time slower than 55 and some change. That’s a very deep pool of athletes you have running. Get to the Texas state meet, it’s never a given. We’ve had exceptional athletes who are foreshadowed to win. You have to show up and earn one of those top three spots if you’re trying to medal. We’re focusing on her being competent in what she has.”
He noted the best at what they do rarely worry about anyone else because they’re too busy focusing on how to make themselves better. That’s a philosophy every coach in the Highland Lakes shares.
Marble Falls sophomore Ambrie Lizcano has been running with Goggans the past two weeks. Torns noted the two enjoy training together and push each other.
He added it’s been a great two weeks of getting ready for the meet. The coach noted he put the two through faster-paced workouts, known as quality workouts, designed to “shake out the body to aid the body in recovery” that include minor strength training and activities to raise the heart rate and flush out the system.
“Seems like we’re on schedule,” he said. “Bailey asked for quality workouts (May 8). She crushed it. It’s about being rested over the next few days and being ready to go on Friday.”