Student-athletes from Marble Falls, Burnet, and Llano high schools are going for gold at University Interscholastic League state track-and-field meet Thursday-Friday, May 6-7.
The event takes place at Mike Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus, 707 Clyde Littlefield Drive in Austin.
Burnet High School sophomore runner Hudson Bennett, who is making his state meet debut, will be the first Highland Lakes athlete to compete. He’ll run in the Class 4A boys’ 3,200 meters at 9 a.m. Thursday. Bennett has the fourth-fastest time in the event at 9 minutes 35 seconds, which is also the Burnet school record.
At 8 p.m., Bennett competes in the 1,600 meters. His 4-minute-23-second time at that distance is the sixth-fastest headed into the meet. Each event has nine competitors.
“Everybody within that race are all within 10 seconds of each other,” said Burnet distance running coach Jerod Rye about the 1,600 meters. “I think it’ll be a phenomenal race the whole time.”
Rye said in close races, Bennett often finds another gear to go faster.
“He’s a talented kid, but I think his talent is overshadowed by his work ethic,” the coach said. “He’s as competitive as anyone you’ll find. I’ll take him every time. His desire to win is unlike most people you find.”
Also running on Thursday are Llano High School freshman Gwyn Burnett and three Llano relay teams in the Class 3A meet.
The boys’ 4×100-meter relay team will race at 5 p.m. The Jackets’ 4×200-meter relay team steps on the track at 6:25 p.m.
Both teams feature Austin Hulon, Abel Prince, Case Kuykendall, and Quincy Prince. Alternates are Jared Beasley and Aiden Cuthbertson.
Burnett runs in the girls’ 300-meter hurdles at 7:20 p.m. She was third at the Class 3A Region IV meet in 45.52 seconds.
The Lady Jackets’ 4×400-meter relay team of Burnett, Anna Casey, Etta Cuthbertson, and Keihana Palmares take the track at 8:20 p.m.
Alternates Kamryn Wenzel and Chloe Lucas are ready to step in if needed.
On Friday, Marble Falls High School senior high jumper Kason O’Riley returns to the Class 5A state meet to compete at 9 a.m. O’Riley has the fourth-best high jump nationally this year at 7 feet, which also is the state’s second-best behind Houston Summer Creek’s Jalan Rivers at 7 feet 1 inch.
Challenging O’Riley at the state meet is a familiar foe, Cedar Park High junior Nicholas Grullon, who has finished second behind the Mustang since the District 25-5A meet a month ago. That includes the area and region meets.
Both O’Riley and Grullon cleared 6 feet 8 inches in the regional meet, but O’Riley earned gold based on the number of jumps he took to get over the bar. Three other state competitors have cleared 6 feet 6 inches in their regional meets, while two others have cleared 6 feet 5 inches.
“I think Kason’s ready to go,” Marble Falls head coach Chris Schrader said. “There’s not much you can do now except finetune. He needs to keep his legs fresh between now and Friday.”
Go to https://www.uiltexas.org/track-field/state for more on the state meet.