Big performances at district and area provided a running start for John Tyler’s hopes of reaching the finish line better known as the state track and field meet.
The Lions, with senior Andre Jefferson leading the way, look to clear the final hurdle in the way of Austin starting today at the Class 4A Region II track and field championships at the University of Texas at Arlington.
The first day features half the field events, the 3200-meter run and running preliminaries. The event ends Saturday with the other half of field events and running finals.
JT’s boys qualified for regionals in four events, with Jefferson a factor in each. Jefferson qualified individually in the long jump and triple jump, and as a member of the Lions’ 400 and 800-meter relay teams.
Back in March, Jefferson won the long jump at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York. He boasts the nation’s top legal mark in the long jump in 2013 (24 feet, 11 inches). Jefferson cleared 24-8¾ to win last week’s area meet by 16-inches.
Jefferson avoided jumping for joy just yet, with unfinished business still at hand.
“The competition – they’re coming,” said Jefferson, the son of former world-class long jumper Tyrus Jefferson, and brother of last year’s 5A state champion and Robert E. Lee graduate, Tyris Jefferson.
“I have to stay consistent, make sure my hands don’t fall back, make sure my double-hitch kick is right in the air, and hold my legs out as long as I can and land correctly.”
Jefferson, who is 9-0 in long jump competitions this year, runs anchor on both JT relays. Jefferson chased down three competitors and nearly a fourth to help the Lions finish third in the 4x200 relay at area. JT placed second in the 3x100.
“We feel we have a chance because we’ve been working hard every day,” Jefferson said of the relays. “It comes down to handoffs. Being the anchor, it’s a big role. We’re just trying to work hard, do the best we can and go further.”
The 400 relay ranks fifth among 16 regional entries (four from each the four Region II area meets) with a season-best time of 41.89 seconds, the 67th-fastest time in the nation. JT checks in fourth in the 4x200 in 1:28.65, the 93rd-fastest clocking in the United States.
The 4x100 consists of freshman Bryston Gipson, junior Reggie Gipson, senior DeQuante Woods and Jefferson. The 4x100 comprises three of the same four legs, with junior Terry Ausborne running in place of Reggie Gipson on the first exchange.
“I’m confident with the guys we have on there,” first-year JT boys track coach Torey Elder said. “They’ve been getting faster and faster in every track meet. We wanted to peak towards district, regionals and state. I’m looking for them to run their fastest time now.”
The JT girls punched five entries to regionals, led by triple-qualifier Tanisha Vaughn (200, 4x100, 4x200), double-qualifier Briana Callier (triple jump, 4x100) and area gold-medalist Dalelasha Rollins (triple jump).
The Whitehouse boys continue a strong season with a handful of individual qualifiers, along with the mile relay. Justin Dunning (110 hurdles, 4x400), Troy Hayden (3200, 1600), Colton Lampkin (300 hurdles, 4x400), Tex Pierce (800, 4x400) and Shemar Smith (100, 4x100) all extended their season in multiple events for the Wildcats.
The top two finishers at regionals advance to state, set for May 10-11 in Austin.
Hayden reached state in the 1600 and 3200 last year.
The Lions look to break a seven-year drought without a state berth. Having arguably the nation’s top jumper figures to give JT a strong chance.
“With Andre Jefferson, it’s a blessing to have an athlete good at jumps and who can help in the relays,” Elder added. “We hope he can help us out and get us to state.”
Class 4A Region II Track and Field Championships
At UT Arlington
10 a.m. — Boys Triple Jump; 11 — Boys Pole Vault; 11:30 — Boys Shot Put, Girls Discus; Noon — Boys High Jump, Girls Triple Jump. 2:30 p.m. — Running preliminaries.
2:30 p.m. — 3200-meter run (finals); 3 p.m. — 400-meter relay; 3:30 — 800-meter run; 3:55 — 100-meter hurdles (girls); 4:05 — 110-meter hurdles (boys); 4:20 — 100-meter dash; 4:40 — 800-meter relay; 5:10 — 400-meter dash; 5:35 — 300-meter intermediate hurdles; 6 — 200-meter dash; 6:40 —1600-meter relay.
9 a.m. — Girls Long Jump, Girls Pole Vault; 10 — Boys Discus, Girls Shot Put; 11:30 — Girls High Jump, Boys Long Jump.
3 p.m. — Opening ceremonies; 3:10 — 400-meter relay; 3:20 — 800-meter run; 3:35 — 100-meter hurdles (girls); 3:40 — 110-meter hurdles (boys); 3:50 — 100-meter dash; 4:05 — 800-meter relay; 4:20 — 400-meter dash; 4:35 — 300-meter intermediate hurdles; 4:55 — 200-meter dash; 5:10 — 1600-meter run; 5:30 — 1600-meter relay.
Class 3A Region II
Where: Memorial Stadium, Texas A&M-Commerce
9 a.m. — girls long jump, boy pole vault; 11 a.m. — boys discus; 1 p.m. — girls pole vault; 1:30 p.m. — boys long jump, girls discus; 5 p.m. — running preliminaries.
10 a.m. — girls triple jump, boys high jump; 11 a.m. — girls shot put; 1 p.m. — boys triple jump, girls high jump; 2 p.m. — boys shot put; 4 p.m. — girls and boys running preliminaries.
Class 1A Division I Region III
Where: Wildcat Stadium, Palestine
2 p.m. — girls pole vault; 4:30 p.m. — boys pole vault; 3 p.m. — shot put; 6 p.m. — girls 3200 run final; 6:15 p.m. — boys 3200 final; 7 p.m. — girls and boys running preliminaries.
10 a.m. — girls and boys triple jump, girls and boys discus, girls high jump; 11:30 a.m. — boys high jump; 2:30 p.m. — girls and boys running finals.
Class 1A Division II Region III
Where: Panther Stadium, Bullard
9 a.m. — boys shot put, girls and boys 3200 final, boys pole vault, girls triple jump; 11 a.m. — boys triple jump, girls shot put, girls high jump; 2:30 p.m. — girls and boys running preliminaries.
9 a.m. — boys long jump, girls discus, girls pole vault; 11 a.m. — boys discus, boys high jump, girls long jump; 2:30 p.m. — girls and boys running finals.