UNION GROVE - Excitement and anticipation is causing Union Grove girls track coach Barry Woodruff some sleepless nights.
The Lady Lions qualified for state in all three relays (4x100, 4x200, 4x400), the 300-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, long jump and triple jump.
It means there will be plenty of opportunities to watch the girls in action at the UIL Class 2A State Track and Field championships Friday and Saturday at Mike A. Myers stadium on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.
Woodruff and his girls want to bring back medals, or as senior Cheyenne Grubbs puts it "some hardware" but with double points available in all three relays while also having strong seed times in their other events, something even more special could be on the horizon.
"To actually have enough who qualified (for events at state means we can) maybe compete for a team state championship," Woodruff said. "It's outstanding for the girls and our school."
Seniors Kyra Winn and Hanna Chambliss run on all three relays, meaning 60 points are up for grabs if they can win all three. Putting that into perspective, Shiner and Italy tied for the 2A girls state title last season with 54 points.
"Right now, our (relays) are supposed to (make top three) looking at times from the regional meet," Chambliss said. "We could have something bad happen, but I honestly don't think anything like that will happen. We are all going to push ourselves and go for the gold."
Junior Summer Grubbs will have the opportunity to set the tone for the Lady Lions, competing at 10 a.m. Friday in the 2A girls' long jump. She qualified for state with a leap of 17 feet and 10 inches two weeks ago at regionals. That is good enough to seed her third in the event.
Grubbs will also run in the 4x200 relay and 200-meter dash. Her older sister Cheyenne is even busier. She will run in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays, along with qualifying in the triple jump and 300-meter hurdles.
It is the third straight year for Cheyenne to qualify for state in 300 hurdles. As a sophomore she finished eighth, garnering Union Grove's lone point at the state meet. Last year she entered as a favorite to make the podium, but ended up 5th in a time of 47.01.
"My first year I was just really excited to be there. The second year I came in seeded second, but I really wanted to come home with some hardware," she said. "I didn't run very well and I was really upset about that."
Cheyenne enters this year's state meet seeded second in a time of 47.65 seconds. The top time in the event is Machala Hengen of Post with 46.98.
"This year is one of the slower years, which I hate to say that, but if I want to come home with the gold, this is year to do it," she said.
Both Cheyenne and Summer are part of what has become the pride of Union Grove, it's 4x400-releay team. Woodruff said the four girls were turning heads in junior high when they combined to run a 4 minutes and 32 seconds "which is better than half of the schools at regionals."
Cheyenne runs the first leg before handing off to fellow seniors Chambliss and Winn before Summer brings it home as the anchor leg. The group qualified in a time of 4:07.06 in second-place behind regional winners Era, who Chambliss believes will meet their match from Union Grove at state.
Teammate Winn agrees.
"We're pretty determined," Winn said. "We have worked really hard, especially in the 4x4, which has always kind of been our go-to race. Our sophomore year we took our 4x4 to state and last year we added the 4x2, and this year we took all three."
Last year as a team, Union Grove tied for 23rd place with eight points, which Woodruff said, "was one of our best."
He envisions massive point improvements and challenging for a state trophy this time around.
Hence, the sleepless nights.
"We talked to them the first day we came back from regionals (about the possibility of winning a team title)," Woodruff said. "It's scary because we have a really good chance at this. Obviously, we want to win every event, but you don't have to, to win the team title.
"I think we have a very good shot to be Top 3 in all three relays, Summer has a great shot in the 200 and Cheyenne has a great shot in the 300 hurdles. In the 4x400 we have a great chance to win the whole thing."
Notes: The 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams for Union Grove are: 4x100 (Winn, Chambliss, Cheyenne, Shayla Gallagher) and 4x200 (Gallagher, Winn, Chambliss, Summer) … The two alternates for all three relay races are Faith Graham and Natalie Hammett) … Austin Owens qualified for state for Union Grove in the boys' discus throw. His qualifying mark of 155 feet, 2 inches seeds him fourth in the event … Other area girls 2A state qualifiers are: Hayley Jordan, Carlisle (girls 100-meter hurdles, high jump); Stormi Lane, Cayuga (girls 100-meter dash); Josh Ingram, Cayuga (boys discus); Hannah Moore, Mount Enterprise (girls high jump); and Casey Partenan, La Poynor (girls shot put).