WACO — Robert E. Lee senior Tyris Jefferson finally has the opportunity to showcase his skills at the state meet.
And he brought back some gold medal hardware to boot.
Jefferson took first place in the boys long jump Saturday afternoon at the Class 5A Region II Track and Field Championships at Hart-Patterson Track complex. The Texas Relays Champion, Jefferson produced a similar high-flying effort by leaping 24 feet, two inches.
“I asked God to bless me to be able to compete well and that’s what He did,” Jefferson said by telephone afterward. “I believe I had farther jumps in me than 24-2, but scratched, so I know I have more distance in me.
“This is the best feeling I’ve ever felt. I’ve gone to Austin for Texas Relays, but now I’m a state qualifier!”
The top two finishers in each event qualify for the Class 5A state meet May 11-12 at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.
Jefferson was competing in his fourth regional track meet, but despite dominating at the district level, had not been able to book a place at state. He began the weekend with four legitimate chances — triple jump, high jump, long jump and 400 meters — but finished fourth Friday in the triple jump and high jump. Only the top two finishers qualify for state, which put extra pressure on Jefferson to take care of business in the long jump.
Jefferson edged out DeSoto’s Kyle Collins, who jumped 23-9½. He later finished fifth in the 400-meter dash in a time of 48.87.
“I am so proud of Tyris for this accomplishment,” Lee boys track coach Elgin Johnson said. “He has been so close for three years and was finally able to achieve his goal as a state qualifier. Tyris is such a great athlete and even better kid.”
Lee senior Will Coleman was fifth in the boys’ discus with a throw of 157-4. It was far short of his district throw (175-9). Levi Jordan of Belton won the event with a throw of 173-0.
In the girls 1600 meters, Lee sophomore Abby Halbrook was ninth in a time of 5 minutes, 24 seconds with teammate Allison Sanders 19th in a time of 5:48.00. The Woodlands’ Madi McLellan, who also won the girls 3200 meters, took first in a time of 5:02.41.