STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
AUSTIN — It’s one thing to be the favorite to win and quite another to perform as the favorite for the win.
That’s what happened in the Class 4A state meet May 12 for Burnet High School senior hurdler Ian Carter and Llano freshman distance runner Anna Casey.
Carter three-stepped his way to gold in the 110-meter hurdles in 13.87 seconds, while Casey took home double gold in the 800 meters and 1,600 meters as she methodically made her way to the top of the podium. Her 2:12.90 time in the 800 meters is a new Llano track record. She clocked 5:07.60 in the 1,600 meters.
She wanted to stay with the pack in the 1,600 and deliberately worked her way to the front by the start of the final lap. Her final lap time of 1:09.809 was the fastest in the race.
“I was a sprinter in junior high,” she said. “I feel like I have a sprinter’s mentality. When I can sprint, I just go. I think, ‘I’m going to finish first with (a new personal best).’ I keep that in mind.
She had two hours to recover from the 800. She and senior teammate Meagan Riley, who was sixth in 1,600 meters in 5:34.61, put their feet up. An hour before the race, they stretched to get loose.
“I wasn’t tired, but I wasn’t fresh,” Casey said.
The freshman noted she doesn’t have a favorite race but will work very hard to improve in both events to perform at her best.
Carter ended his high school track career atop the podium a year after he earned silver in the same event at state.
“It’s an awesome accomplishment,” he said. “I’ve been working for this my whole life. And to (set a new personal best) at state and win it? It’s an awesome feeling.”
Carter, who was nervous but confident before the event, said he doesn’t notice any other hurdlers because he’s so focused on what he has to do to be his best.
He began hurdling in the seventh grade and performed the three-step running pattern in his first attempt. Since then, he’s been solid in the event.
“You’re excited anytime you compete,” he said. “It’s great to win. To achieve this is the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
Llano senior thrower Ray Dixon finished sixth in the shot put with a heave of 51 feet 2 1/4 inches.
Dixon had won silver in the event last year.
The senior was thankful to have so many of his family members, friends, and the Llano community give encouragement throughout his time wearing a Llano uniform.
“I couldn’t have gotten here without it,” he said. “That’s awesome to have.”
Throwing coach Bobby Williams noted sports are filled with peaks and valleys. Though Dixon had proper footwork, it simply wasn’t his day, the coach said.
“It’s hard to look at it now, but he’ll look back and be excited,” Williams said. “I feel sorry for him. It breaks my heart. I’m very proud of him. All you can hope is that it helps him grow.”
Assistant coach Clint Easley said the result will help Dixon as he now turns his attention to fulfilling his track-and-field scholarship at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
“He’ll carry it with him,” Easley said. “I told him it’s not over for you. It’ll be motivation. He’ll overcome it.”
Crandall junior Branson Bragg won gold by setting a new personal best with a mark of the 53-10 3/4.
Dixon had set a school record April 18 at the District 19 and 20-4A area meet with a heave of 57-3 1/2.
“He set a record that won’t be broken for a long time,” Williams said.