NEW CHAPEL HILL — Chapel Hill is sending three athletes to the UIL State Track and Field Championships Thursday through Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

Junior Kya Cook is going in the Class 4A girls 400-meter dash. Tyra Pierce qualified in the Class 4A girls discus throw. Emery Crayton is competing in the Class 4A boys 3,200-meter run.

Cook ran a personal record of 58.90 at regionals, taking third place and earning the wild card spot to the state meet.

“I’m actually very excited, because this is my first time going to state and I’m beating the odds, because not a lot of people thought I would,” Cook said.

Cook said she found out that she had earned a spot at state when she was on her way back to Tyler from Commerce to get ready for Prom.

Cook, who also plays basketball, said she’s aiming for a strong finish at state.

“My goal is to be top five in the state in 4A,” Cook said. “I went against the two fastest girls in my region, and they got a 56 and 57. Everybody else is a 58 like me, so if I can run a new PR, I’ve got a good shot.”

Pierce made it to regionals for the first time this year, and then she threw a 109-10 at regionals to make it to state.

“It was very exciting,” Pierce said. “I was glad I got to go do it and make my coach happy.”

Isaac Gutierrez, who has coached throwers for more than 10 years, said Pierce is his first state qualifier.

“I’m really excited for her for this accomplishment and for her to be one of the three to represent Chapel Hill,” Gutierrez said. “She’s put in a lot of work. She’s had a lot of obstacles and adversity along the way. But she’s continued to push and work, and now she’s one of the top nine throwers in the state of Texas.”

Pierce, who has also played volleyball and basketball, said her PR in a meet is 111-0. But at state, she’s going for even more.

“My goal going in is 120-0, because that’s my personal record in practice,” Pierce said.

Chapel Hill girls track and field coach Aaron Steele said, “They’ve worked very hard. I’m excited for them.”

Crayton also earned a wild-card spot with a time of 9:39.24 in the 3,200 meters.

“I’m really excited,” Crayton said. “I did a lot of training. But I was kind of scared, because I had twisted both of my ankles in basketball, so for most of the track season, I was out. My training was cut down, and I was running really slow. Luckily, my ankles healed up just when they needed to, and I was able to run in my spikes when I needed to, and it cut my time down by 20 seconds.”

Crayton also went to state in cross country.

“He’s fun to watch,” said Steele, who coaches Crayton in cross country. “He’s built to run.”

Crayton said he is aiming for the gold in Austin.

“Hopefully get first,” he said. “It’s going to be hard. I know I’m going to have to run a 9:20ish or 9:15 to get first.”

Crayton will run at 9:45 a.m. Thursday. Pierce will compete at 1 p.m. Thursday. Cook will run at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.


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Brandon Ogden is in his 22nd year covering high school sports in East Texas and has been in Tyler for the past four years. Follow on Twitter: @BrandonOSports