Three Highland Lakes track-and-field athletes punched their tickets to the University Interscholastic League state meet at their respective regional competitions April 27.
Marble Falls sophomore Bailey Goggans was a double-gold medalist at the Class 5A Region III meet in Webster, winning the 400 meters in 55.43 seconds and the 800 meters in 2:11.02. She set a new school record a day earlier in the 400 meters in the preliminaries with a time of 54.71 seconds.
Classmate Kason O’Riley was first in the high jump, clearing 6 feet 8 inches.
And Llano High School senior Courtney Reina was awarded a wild card in the shot put after placing third at the Class 4A Region IV meet with a heave of 38-11.5. Reina had the farthest throw of the four third-place finishers at each of the 4A regional meets, so the UIL extended an invitation to her.
Marble Falls distance running coach Chris Schrader said he and Goggans talked about strategy before the start of the 400-meter preliminary April 26. Goggans said she wanted to have the fastest time headed into the finals to get the middle lane. He inquired about her thoughts regarding trying to finish in 55 seconds.
“I would love to do that,” Goggans replied.
“I like where your mental state is,” Schrader answered.
He watched as she finished the first 200 meters in 25.87 seconds and the final 200 meters in 27.9 seconds in the preliminary race.
“You want to go out and establish dominance,” Schrader said.
The next day, Goggans prepared to run the finals of the 800 meters and the 400 meters. The longer race, which didn’t have a preliminary, was first, and Goggans was just fast enough to win.
Schrader said Goggans was conserving her energy for the 400 meter-race, which started approximately 90 minutes after the 800-meter event.
Marble Falls boys head track coach Chad Bishop said O’Riley is “jumping the best he has all year, without a doubt.”
Bishop credits jumping coach Scott Johnson for O’Riley’s results, noting the sophomore also won the District 17-5A meet and District 17 and 18-5A area meet.
O’Riley’s outlook is also a plus.
“Kason has one of those unique mentalities where he’s extremely comfortable,” Bishop said. “He doesn’t get flustered.”
O’Riley is learning the value of focusing on the next jump and not allowing misses or things he can’t control dictate results, the coach said. Emphasizing fundamentals and the proper attitude are key to winning, Bishop said.
But coaches also let “Kason be Kason.”
“Coach Johnson has done a tremendous job of not putting pressure on him to perform,” Bishop said. “We’re getting him ready and prepared and letting him compete.”
Also at the Class 4A Region IV meet, the Burnet High School girls’ 4×400-meter relay team of junior Macy Hollowell, sophomores Rylee Carroll and Phebe Musasa, and freshman Kayla Gillaspie was third with a time of 4:07.62. However, their finish was not fast enough for them to advance to state.
In an extremely competitive race, fourth-place finisher Hollowell was sixth-tenths of a second away from finishing second with a time of 1:00.94.
The Class 5A state meet is Friday, May 10, at Mike A. Myers Stadium, 707 Clyde Littlefield Drive in Austin. The high jump is set to begin at 8 a.m., while the 800 meters follows at 6 p.m. and the 400 meters at 8:15 p.m.
The shot put competition in the Class 4A state meet is 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11, also at Myers Stadium.