WINONA — Two tracksters from Winona are on a simple mission: to win on their expedition to Austin.
Winona's Colton Chadbourne and Jamece Gulley go into the state track and field meet this weekend favored to win medals, and geared to do just so.
Chadbourne returns to state in the 110-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles, after finishing ninth and fourth in the two events, respectively, a year ago. Gulley gained her first state berth, making it in the triple jump after finishing third at regionals last year.
Chadbourne comes into his final high school meet with the top mark from regionals in the 300s (38.44 seconds) and tied for fourth in the 110s (15.02).
Medals evaded Chadbourne in both events at last year's state meet, and the senior made it his aim to right a wrong.
"I was very determined," said Chadbourne, a four-sport standout, who is leaning toward attending Stephen F. Austin. "It was a hunger. If I didn't make it, it would've been a failure of my senior year. The hunger to go back for the gold overwhelms you."
Chadbourne considers the 300s, where the hurdles are shorter and the longer race more suited to his stature and quickness, his bread-and-butter event. Chadbourne comes to the 2A state meet the only qualifier running in the 38-second range. In the 110s, he still factors into the mix, with only one one-hundredths of a second separating the third through fifth seeds.
"I'm not very tall," said Chadbourne, who stands 5-8. "The 110 hurdles are almost to my bellybutton. The 300s, that's where my speed makes up for a lot of my technique issues.
"I'm hoping I come home with gold, not just for myself, but for the community and everyone that's supported me."
Chadbourne carried the load in football, rushing for more than 1,000 yards as the Wildcats broke an 11-year playoff drought. He played center field on a baseball team that made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Chadbourne competes in the 110s at 12:45 p.m. Saturday, followed by the 300s at 2:05 p.m.
"In a lot of ways, he's one of the most-accomplished athletes Winona's ever had," Winona boys track coach John Portwood said. "It's been a singular focus, everything we've done, this is the culmination. The whole thing has been geared toward winning a state championship in the 300 hurdles."
Gulley, a junior, dominated up to regionals, winning five medals at district and area in the 100, long jump, triple jump and 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
"I had to work this year," Gulley said. "Being third in regionals last year made me want to make it this year."
Defending state champion Kenijia Collier of Tatum leads the pack with a jump of 39 feet, 9 ﾾ inches. Lauren Bedrick of Rogers follows with a mark of 37-5 ﾾ, just ahead of Gulley (37-4 ﾾ) and Sabine's Haley Stuart (37-2 ﾽ).
Winona girls track coach Tim Belk believes getting comfortable can help Gulley reach the medal stand.
"I told her don't let the atmosphere and venue be something to shake you up," Belk said. "It's a runway like everyone else's got. Give it your best and see what happens."
Gulley echoed the comments of her coach and visualized putting it all together in Austin.
"For it to be a perfect jump, the speed has to be there, the stride has to be there and my second phase has no choice but to get out," said Gulley, who jumps at 7 p.m. Friday. "I just want to go out there and do my best and not worry about what's going to happen, just leave it all out there."