By Mike Phillips
Special to the Daily Sun
Corsicana High senior Noah Gilfillan, who is the No. 2 high school pole vaulter in the nation, will face off with the No.1 vaulter this weekend in the Texas Relays.
Corsicana is taking four relay teams — two boys teams and two girls teams — to the prestigious track & field meet and Gilfillan will have a chance to challenge the top vaulter in the country.
“He’s excited about it,’’ said Corsicana track & field Coach Wayne Braziel of the showdown in the pole vault. “He’s ready to go.’’
Gilfillan has already accepted a scholarship to the University of Arkansas, a track & field powerhouse, and he has the second best vault in the nation at 16 feet, 6 inches.
He will be a huge favorite to win the state title. But this is a rare opportunity to face Louisiana’s Devin King, who recently vaulted 17-feet, 10 1/2 inches. King has accepted a scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana.
Braziel know just how competitive the Texas Relays are, but relishes the fact he can take his relay teams to Austin.
“It’s a great venue,’’ Braziel said. “Besides the state meet, it’s the biggest meet of the year. Last year we didn’t go and everybody is excited about going back this year.’’
Braziel’s two boys relay teams — the 4x100 and the 4x400 — are made up of the same four runners: Xavier Bradley, who has emerged as a force in the 300 hurdles, Tray Owens, who set the Corsicana single-game rushing record last fall as a sophomore, Lakeem Christmas and Kaley Washington. The 4x100 team has run well this spring and Braziel feels running in the Texas Relays will help get his runners as they prepare for the District 16-4A meet, which will be held on April 9 and 10 in Lindale.
The same four runners make up the mile relay team, and this will be their first meet in that event.
“The competition is very tough,’’ Braziel said. “Our 4x100 team has run a 43.2 time. It will be tough to make the finals. It’s going to take something in the high 41s or low 42s. Our division is so hard because it’s Class 5A and 4A schools together and we have to run against some big schools out of Dallas and Houston.
The Tigers girls relay teams might have a better chance of making the finals this weekend.
Moesha Tolliver, Robin Henley, McKenzie Lee and Sha Sha Taylor make up the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams that will compete in the Texas Relays.
The 4x100 team has run a time of 49.8 and the 4x200 team has run a 1:41 this year. Braziel hopes the tougher competition pushes his kids to new personal records in this meet.
“I think they have a chance to get into the finals,’’ Braziel said. “I really haven’t seen everyone in our district, but I think they will be in the top three in our district.
“The big thing we get out of it is the experience the kids get from this meet,’’ he said. “They get to see everybody from the small schools to Olympic runners (in the college events). It’s good for our kids. The kids are excited about it and being a part of this meet.’’