The bell lap is the final lap of the longer races at a track meet, signaled by the ringing of a bell as the leader begins the final lap. For Covington seniors Klay Howard and Gerardo Cipres, the UIL state track and field championships this weekend marked the end and final lap of the duo’s illustrious high school careers while wearing the royal blue Owl uniform.
Early Friday morning, Klay Howard captured the Class A bronze medal in the 3200-meter run, marking a career- and personal-best time of 9:50.42.
One goal Howard had set for himself this season was to break 10 minutes, Covington Coach Juaquin Rodriguez said. He did so in style on the biggest stage in Texas, shattering his previous personal best of 10:03.25 by almost 13 seconds.
Cipres finished ninth overall in the 3200 as he ran a 10:48.53.
“Qualifying to the state meet is a difficult challenge,” Rodriguez said. “To have not just one, but two runners from Covington qualify for the 3200-meter run this year is truly remarkable and very special. Both Howard and Cipres have represented Covington High School and the community in ways that define true leadership.
“They motivated, inspired, disciplined, encouraged, and helped me coach and develop their teammates. They possess such a great character and work ethic, always willing to go the extra mile. What a great two years it has been working with these two. They are amazing young men, whom I will not forget.”
Howard was not done after completion of the 3200. He also qualified for the 1600-meter run at state, where he finished fifth and ran a season-best time of 4:36.59.
Howard and Cipres have hopes of continuing to run after graduation, their coach said.
“Both Howard and Cipres have always been focused, dedicated, and have bought in to the running program at Covington, with the vision of making it to the state meet,” Rodriguez said. “They run with perseverance, the races marked out for them with eyes fixed on the perfecter of their faith. It’s been special. It’s been quite a ride. I have had the honor and privilege of coaching these two great individuals. We have certainly had some of the highest highs, and certainly some lows to overcome together.”