Every Track and Field season I look forward to a few T&F meets on the calendar. The Houston Classic is always at the top of the list. If you look through the records list for this meet, you can't help but feel in awe at the performances we've seen throughout the years. Really, how many high school meets has Sam Kendricks as the pole vault record holder... ok, maybe everyone he went to during high school, but you get the picture.
So, at this meet, you expect to see a few top performances. And that we did for sure. This isn't in any particular order, but how about getting a TN #1 mark in the 400 by Houston's Eva Gautreaux with her 57.22 time and into a blistering head wind on the last 100. And anybody running the 400 know that the last 100 is the most painful and to hold it into the wind like she did was an awesome performance to say the least. What's that saying... you think a minute goes by quick, then try running the 400... in this case, it did go by very quickly!!
The girls and boys 100M dash kind of did a unique double... Both winners posted the TN#2 mark with their wins. Olivia Freeman (Houston) and Jordan Ware (Memphis Central) dropped some terrific times, and again, in a strong headwind. Oliva posted a personal best of 12.27 and Jordan a huge mark of 10.81!
Then there was some fireworks in the hurdles as well with Kylan Bernard of Bartlett posting a #1 TN mark of 14.58 that was a bit ahead of two of his Bartlett teammates (Marico Smith, 15.30 and Rahman Rinkin, 16.25). In the 300's was Aeneas Reed Jr of Germantown made the only under 40 with a 39.14 mark to win that event. After these hurdles, that brings Bartlett into the top spot for the 100 and 110's. Not a bad thing to have two athletes leading the way in hurdles, a technical event for sure!
It wouldn't be a Houston Classic unless we saw at least a top mark set in one of the relays. That would be with the boys of Memphis Central posting the #1 mark in the state with their win in an impressive and very much out front, time of 1:28.95. That is fast! I'm not positive, but I believe Bell Tyler, Quincy Briggs, Khalid White and Jordan Ware made up that team. A fast team for sure!
Those are some impressive #1 and #2 across the State. But those weren't the only impressive marks set at this meet. But before I get into some of the other great marks set here, I want to say how much fun is was to be at a Track and Field meet this season. The past year has been a challenge, and track hasn't been in the forefront of anyone's consideration with all that has gone on. And truthfully, it shouldn't have been. We've had to get through such an unusual situation the past year. It's not all behind us but spending time on the track at the Houston Classic, well, that certainly is a sign that things will be better.
So... who did we see get some other impressive marks at this meet. Let's just start with Ann-Marie Braese who took off in the 1600 (5:13.98) and the 3200M (11:14.80) to win both events clearly ahead of anyone behind her. Anytime a distance runner must battle against the wind four or eight time during a race, that's got to take a toll. Unfortunately for the wind Ann-Marie won this time setting her new PR in the 1600 and just shy of her best in the 3200.
Having seven guys drop under the 10-minute mark, turned the 3200M boys race into an exciting one. Landen McNair took the top spot in 9:22 that was close to a best time for him. There was a close race for the runner up spot in this event with Houston's Robert Randall and Jake Arnold fighting off a tough Jake Ryan of Christian Brothers. Robert posted a 9:41.53 that was slightly off his best time for that distance but considering the time of year and the fierce wind, not a bad runner up spot for sure!
I mentioned earlier about Eva Gautreaux in the 400, well the next two spots behind her brought some great marks with Ashleigh Stephen (Whitehaven) with a 58.31 and Kennedi Hall (Germantown) just breaking the minute mark in 59.67. And then the double 400... oh, think it's called the 800 was won by Briarcrest senior Felicity Bost in a strong 2:26.08. What was impressive there, she was over 12 seconds ahead of second place in that race. Her biggest competition there was the wind on the home stretch, a brutal wind for sure!
Having a little bit of an interest in the D2 large school
division, I couldn't help but notice that the Purple Wave posted a couple of
strong 800's with Jake Ryan taking the runner up spot in the varsity division
with 1:56. That was just behind
Bartlett's Landen McNair (1:55.33). Christian Brothers next best finisher (Parker Russ) was at almost a
straight up 2-minute race in 2:00.69. There might just be an interesting 3200 relay there this May. We'll
have to watch that.
Not leaving out any field events, I must mention the boy's long jump. Memphis Central's Dohnovon Hunt went 22-08.50 and Germantown's Aeneas Reed Jr was 22-01.5 to make the top two with impressive leaps for sure!
I've already mentioned the wind affecting the runs a bit. Well, the discus is something that is an interesting event in the wind as well. I can't say the wind ever really helps, no matter the direction. Not sure it mattered for a couple of Father Ryan athletes that made the trek to the meet. Drake Carlson tossed 151 feet and Brock Carlson 148 and a half inch! Not too shabby by any means and even though Drakes was a bit under his best, still well worth the trip to win this event.
Drake (51-10.5) and Brock (54-07) did a flip in the shot to also get silver and bronze. But it was a pretty good day for DJ Harden of Christian Brothers setting a best throw for him to win the event with a 56-2 toss. No wind problem there!
As I say every time, I did not mention every single best performance at the meet. There were so many that if I did mention them all, this would be a mile-long article (or maybe a two-miler). But I know there are stories for every single runner, every single thrower, every single jumper...
Almost every year that I attend this event, I mention the stats and the amount of entries we see. This year wasn't the largest by any means. The pandemic took care of that again. But this meet, and all the other meets around the Memphis area so far this season... Bonner Relays, Saints Relays, Jack Moran Relays, Panther Relays coming up... all point to the one clear fact: we are finally back on the track. We are finally doing what we all love... competing, coaching, watching... yea, finally enjoying a Track & Field Season again! You just gotta love that!!
See you on the track... FINALLY!!