Athletes face tough test at state
The state qualifying scores from junior Hunter Dooley and senior Jack Hays of Graham High School, and senior Tanner Buchanan of Bryson may make them strong contenders for a medal, but those figures may also be misleading.
Although Dooley, Hays and Buchanan each come into the state meet with strong scores from last weekend’s regional meets, akin to others competing, those scores do not reflect their capability.
On paper, Dooley enters the competition as a strong favorite in 4A shot put considering his most recent throw at regionals (53-3), which was more than 6 inches further than his nearest competitor, Region III champion Ray Dixon of Llano (52-7 3/4) and a foot further than Port Isabell senior Jack Zimmerle’s personal-record setting throw of 52-3. Melissa senior Gunnar Murphy may be the dark horse of the pack, throwing for 51-5 1/2 at his regional meet but surpassing Dooley’s personal-record setting throw (56 1/2) by more than 3 feet after hitting 59-3 during a competition in March.
Jack Hays, Graham
While a second-place finish in any other competition is considered great, for track athletes it means an uphill climb into the postseason. Hays will have to fight his way into the discus finals with his personal-record setting throw of 160-8 placing him fifth amongst the contestants of next Saturday’s competition. His strongest competition will come from Post Isabell senior Sidney Mock, who returns from a PR of 172-3 at the Region IV meet. Andrews sophomore Jacob Melchler’s 171-6 throw has him ranked second, followed by Cuero senior Caeveon Patton (162-3 PR) and Waco Connelly junior Tylon Johnson (162-2 PR).
Buchanan will be the only 1A Young County athlete competing at state and, despite finishing first in at the Region III Track and Field Meet, is in for a dogfight next Friday. Buchanan returns from besting Iredell junior Alex Argott for first place following a jump-off, but none of that matters come next Friday.
Buchanan’s 11-foot PR places him fifth among his fellow state competitors with Guthrie senior Landon Roberts leading the pack after hitting 13-6 last March.
Rankin sophomore Calen Fouts also seems a strong contender following his personal-record setting 13-3 jump during the Region II meet, where he edged Cross Plains sophomore Theron Allen, who tied three other state competitors for third-place with 13-foot jumps at their respective regional meets.