At last, Lake Travis senior Jared Tracy has earned a ticket to the state track and field meet.
After coming close in previous years, Tracy qualified by winning the Class 6A shot put at the Region IV meet Friday at Alamo Stadium. He doubled his fun by winning a silver in the discus, giving him two chances to win a medal when the UIL state meet convenes May 11-12 at Myers Stadium in Austin.
“Everything that I’ve been striving for was leading to this point,” the 6-foot-4, 237-pound Tracy said. “I was ready to take it.”
Tracy’s journey to state, though, appeared to be over when he herniated two disks while lifting weights in early February. Three doctors gave him the same prognosis: He would not be able to compete for six months.
“I came back in six weeks,” Tracy said.
He said daily prayer and encouragement from his coaches, teammates and parents helped him make a faster-than-expected recovery. When he won the discus and shot put at a meet at Dallas Jesuit last month, he figured he’d beaten the odds. And when he captured the discus at the Texas Relays on March 30, it gave him confidence heading into regionals this weekend.
Tracy, who has signed to compete at Arizona State, wanted to prove his doctors wrong. “I don’t give up that easily,” he said.
Tracy was among a large group of Central Texas athletes who performed well on the opening day of the meet.
One of the most impressive feats was a one-two finish by Austin High athletes in the Class 5A high jump. Junior Calvin Williams won the event and qualified for state with a leap of 6 feet, 7 inches. Junior Aleu Aleu earned silver with a jump of 6-6.
Reagan Casey of Hays qualified for state by winning the 6A high jump with a leap of 5-4. There was a four-way tie for first place, but she was declared the winner with fewer misses.
A pair of Lehman competitors qualified for state by winning silver medals, senior Seauanna Watson in the 6A shot put and freshman Nikayla Fitzgerald in the long jump.
Watson exceeded her own expectations with a personal-best toss of 41-0.75. Her previous best was 39-10. Fitzgerald jumped of 17-11½, just 2 inches shy of her personal best.
This will be Watson’s first trip to the state track meet. She qualified for state earlier this year in powerlifting, finishing in fourth at the meet in Waco.
Fitzgerald, 14, said she didn’t consider her age and lack of experience as obstacles.
“Most people think it’s the juniors and seniors who are supposed to win, but I knew I could do it,” she said.
Several Central Texans qualified for Saturday’s finals, including several who placed first in their heats.
Among the area athletes who qualified with first-place finishes was Marble Falls freshman Bailey Goggaans, whose time of 55.52 seconds in the 5A 400 meters was a meet record. She also finished first in the 800 meters.
Other first-place qualifiers were Leander’s Elizabeth Roca (6A 400 meters), Lehman’s Bria Arrant (6A 100 meters), LBJ sophomore Jaleel Scott (5A 200 meters), the LBJ boys 800-meter relay team, the LBJ girls 800-meter relay team and Crockett junior Aniah Marshall (5A 100 meters).
Among the area athletes who qualified with top-eight performances were Crockett’s Marshall (5A triple jump), Dripping Springs senior Hannah Biggs (5A 100 meters), Marble Falls senior Sarah Cauble (5A 100 meters), Lockhart senior Xavia Thompson (5A 100 meters), Dripping Springs senior Lightsey Puryear (5A 300 hurdles), LBJ senior Sarah Porter (5A 200 meters), LBJ junior Cameron Kleiman (5A 3,200 meters), Dripping Springs senior Justin Wright (5A 110-meter hurdles, 5A 300-meter hurdles), LBJ’s Scott (5A 100 meters), LBJ junior Donte Bourgeois (5A 300 hurdles) and Vandegrift’s Jordan Mathis (6A 3,200 meters).