The University Interscholastic League’s Track & Field State Championships may be the greatest spectacle in high school sports.
Sure, the football championship games held every year of late at Jerry World in Arlington draw bigger crowds but the state track meet is a colorful, three-ring circus that crowns multiple champions over the course of its two-day run.
Held at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers track stadium, the meet offers up 17 track and field events for boys and girls in six high school divisions. This year, 11 athletes competed in six events in the wheelchair division.
That in itself would give us 11 stories of spectacular athletic achievement, then throw in the remarkable accomplishments of Emory-Rains pole vaulter Charlotte Brown. Brown, who is blind, uses an electronic beeper placed on the spot where she should plant her pole and after her seven step run-up she is good to go. A 16-year old junior, Brown was making her second trip to the state meet and finished fourth, just missing a medal in the event. Brown cleared three heights before finishing with a vault of 11-feet.
Competitors from our area fared well in Austin, led by Van Alstyne’s distance-running standout Evan McQuirk.
The senior missed on his goal of adding a track and field championship to the cross-country title that he won back in November. McQuirk, still bothered by an injury to his right foot, ran a 9:40.14 to finish third in the 3200-meter run, closing out his high school career with another UIL medal. He will continue his athletic and academic career at Oklahoma Baptist University in Edmond,Oklahoma.
One of Evan’s best friends, Grant Butts of Whitesboro, achieved his senior-year goal by setting a new school record in the 800-meter run, while finishing second in Austin with a time of 1:54.72 Cody Hammonds of Warren won the event with a time of 1:54.65.
Butts just missed a podium finish in the 1600-meter run, grabbing fourth with a time of 4:28.70, adding four more points to the Bearcats boys’ team total.
The Whitesboro boys 1600-meter relay team of Brice Chaney, Zach Sanges, Clayton Stringer and Colln Kilcrease finished second to Sonora with a time of 3:23.27. The Whitesboro boys finished in sixth place as a team.
Sunnyvale’s Josh Quinn finished sixth in the boys 400-meter run, while Hunter Allen was seventh in the 110-meter hurdles.
The Farmersville girls team, with second place finishes by J’Kaylee Clark in the 400-meters and Hailey Nelson in the high jump, finished seventh among the 58 Class 2A girls teams which competed in Austin.
Chloe Wall of Farmersville added six points with her third place finish in the pole vault. Farmersville’s Karlee Young finished ninth in the triple jump.
Mikayla Pokorny, a Whitesboro sophomore, finished second in the discus with a throw of 124 feet, 11 inches, giving the Lady Bearcats eight points in the team standings. Lauren Purdom added two more with a fifth place finish in the high jump, putting the Lady Cats at 17th among Class 2A girls teams.
Brittyn Rushing of Leonard finished fifth in the long jump, Sunnyvale’s Jenna McLaughlin was fifth in the 800-meter run and Kirsten Marshall of S&S was sixth in the high jump.
Pottsboro’s 1600-meter relay team of Maddy Wideman, Jordan Slagle, Justus Malone and Tatum Marburger finished seventh in that event.
When the final running event of the meet was finished on Saturday, track and field fans from all over the state departed Austin after viewing one of high school’s sports finest productions.