By Raymond Linex II
Corsicana Daily Sun
Four years ago, Wayne Braziel fielded a sprint relay team that clocked 41.7. It’s been almost 30 years since the Tigers set a then-national record with a time of 40.5.
The Tigers probably won’t threaten either of those times Friday at the Area track meet in Lancaster, but it won’t be for lack of effort.
“We’re really young,” said Braziel, whose team ran a 43.86 to finish fourth last week at the District 16-4A meet. “We have a freshman, a sophomore and two juniors. All of them, it’s their first year of varsity running. It’s been a learning experience.
“But they compete.”
The boys 4 x 100-meter relay is one of three relay teams Corsicana High is sending to the area meet. The girls are sending the sprint and 4 x 200 teams.
The Tigers earned six individual event spots, lead by district champion Noah Gilfillan in the pole vault. High jumpers Hector Cavillo and Dzifa Mallet also qualified. On the girls side, Shasha Taylor in the 100 meters and Ernisha Ballard in the 200 were both silver medalists at district to move on, and Joy Brown will run in the 3,200 after qualifying.
The girls relays will see some changes. Taylor, who has been slowed by injuries, will rejoin the sprint relay unit, girls coach Bubba Wallace said. And freshman Ashley Ballard will join the 800-meter relay.
“That gives us our fastest four legs,” Wallace said.
The other three legs of the relays will be manned by Ballard, Robin Henley and Makenzie Lee.
The boys sprint relay will also have a change, as freshman Trey Owens will run the first leg. He’ll join Keenan Dowell, Kaley Washington and Xavier Bradley.
On both the boys and girls sides, meet hosts and perennial contenders Lancaster will be the favorites, along with John Tyler, both coaches said. For any of the three relays to get out, they have to run smooth races, Braziel said.
“The (girls) sprint relay has a chance, but everything has to be right,” Braziel said, adding about the boys, “We’ll have to run personal-best times. The teams from the other district are pretty fast.”
In the high jump, Mallet has gone as high as 6-2, and Cavillo 6-0.
“Looking at the numbers, that gives them a chance” to advance, Braziel said. “On our district, we had a 6-4 guy, another 6-2. The other district has a 6-6, 6-8 guy, and a lot of 6-2s.”
Gilfillan went 15-0 1/4 to win district in the pole vault, but Braziel said he can go 16 feet. He will be a favorite.
“He’s been on the top vaulters in the area all year,” Braziel said.
This is the first year the Tigers have had to participate in an area meet, the coaches said. It’s new to UIL track, they said, though the two districts can elect to bypass and go straight to regionals, as was customary in the past. There is a difference though, Wallace said. Districts that go straight to the regional meet can send only two qualifiers. The area meet will send three.
Still, the coaches are not fond of the change.
“We would have qualified for regionals in both relays,” Wallace said. “Now, we have to face another district to get there. ...
“Every kid wants to get to regionals. Now, you have another meet to get there. Area doesn’t have as much luster.”