When the state’s top high school athletes converge on Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin for the UIL state track and field championships May 11-12, several Johnson County competitors will be contending for top finishes.
At the Class 5A level, Joshua’s Mason Farley will be one of the top contenders out of Johnson County as the Texas A&M University signee claimed a regional title with a first-place finish in the high jump Friday.
At the Class 5A Region II track and field meet at the University of Texas-Arlington’s Maverick Stadium, Farley cleared 6 feet, 7 inches to take first and advance to state for the second time in three years. Farley advanced to the state meet in the high jump as a sophomore and just missed a return trip last year as a junior.
“To get back to state this year gives me the opportunity to come back from the close loss I had last year and reach my goal of being state champion,” Farley said.
Farley enters the Class 5A high jump finals as one of the favorites with his state seed mark of 6 feet, 7 inches tied with Austin’s Calvin Williams for first.
“Mason has had a good year and is getting stronger every day,” Joshua Coach Craig Bethell said. “From the regional results, Mason has one of the highest jumps going in. I think it will be one of the most competitive events in 5A. There will be seven jumpers that have cleared 6-foot-6 at the regional meets. Mason has cleared 6 feet, 10.25 inches in his career, so that is a plus.”
Farley reached his personal record mark of 6 feet, 10.25 inches last year, which was one reason he garnered the attention of Texas A&M, in addition to being one of the favorites entering the state meet.
“It’s kind of a nerve-wracking feeling knowing that I’m at the top with multiple other athletes, and that just an inch could win me the gold,” Farley said. “My expectations are to remain calm and just do what I do best — jump.
“To win it all, I think it’s going to take a lot of self talking to keep myself calm, and confidence that I have the ability to win. At big meets like Texas Relays earlier this year, I let the big crowd get to me and didn’t do as well as I could’ve. I don’t intend to make that mistake twice.”
In his sophomore season, Farley was the district, area and regional champ en route to the state appearance, where he finished eighth.
Farley won’t be making the trip to state alone as fellow Joshua senior teammate Kendal Maples qualified for state in the shot put. Maples recorded a personal best throw of 55 feet to finish third at the Class 5A Region II meet — his 55-foot mark was the top third-place finish out of all regions to advance as the “wild card.” The competition at state in the shot put figures to be a battle with several athletes in the same range.
“In the shot put, there is one athlete that has thrown 57 feet and there are five more that have thrown 55 feet to 55 feet, 10 inches,” Bethell said. “Kendal has always competed well and he will always be in the hunt to win.”
The only other Johnson County-area athlete in 5A to qualify for state is Burleson Centennial’s Savoria Anderson, who finished third in the girls triple jump with a personal record leap of 38 feet, 7.75 inches. She qualified for state as the top third-seeded finisher out of the four regions.
Maggie Marshall, Cleburne’s lone regional qualifier, finished eighth in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 2:25.89.
At the Class 4A level, Alvarado will be represented by two athletes at the state meet as senior Amir Foston and sophomore Emily Garcia each claimed top-2 finishes to advance.
At the Class 4A Region I meet in Lubbock, Foston took first place in the shot put with a throw of 51 feet, 5.75 inches. Going by state seed marks, Foston is seeded fifth at state with a top mark of 53 feet, 7.25 inches by Aransas Pass’ Matthew Butler.
Garcia, a three-time state champion in cross country and track, finished second at the regional meet in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:52.16. As a freshman last year, Garcia won the Class 4A state title in the 3,200-meter run with an incredible time of 10:55.22.
Alvarado just missed out on two more state berths with a pair of third-place finishes at the regional meet. Aaron Svetlecic placed third in the 1,600-meter run at 4:39.03, and Alvarado’s 4x100 relay team of Jacob Shockley, Mason Caruthers, Andrew Barajas and Blake Henderson finished third in a time of 42.91 seconds, just missing a trip to state by 0.24 seconds.
Godley will be represented by Meritt McKittrick, who qualified for state in the girls 100-meter dash and 400-meter dash in the wheelchair division. In the 100, McKittrick's seed time is 21.18 seconds, which is tops among the state field. And in the 400, her seed time is 1:27, which is second in the four-athlete field.
At the Class 3A Region III meet at Waco Midway, Grandview had two athletes qualify for state while Keene and Rio Vista finished just shy of being represented in Austin.
Grandview’s Jeremy Hiesler finished second in the discus throw at the regional meet with a mark of 153 feet, 8 inches.
Qualifying for state in the discus has long been a goal of Hiesler’s. And despite former Grandview Coach Tommy Webb recently moving over to a new position with Arlington Heights High School, Webb has continued to help coach and guide Hiesler in the discus to help him reach that goal.
“Coach Webb has been a blessing not only to me but my entire family,” Hiesler said. “By reaching state, I have fulfilled the last and final goal I set for my high school career. Reaching state and completing my goal only helped to reassure my confidence heading into college to compete for Tarleton State University as well.
“Heading into state, my hopes and expectations have already been achieved by the help of Coach Webb and my family, but I do have aspirations of getting a medal at state.”
Hiesler was a district champion in the discus all four years with Grandview and he advanced to regionals the past two years. His farthest recorded throw checks in at 158 feet, 1.5 inches.
The top mark in the 3A shot put entering state is 178 feet, 11 inches by Schulenburg’s Cason Brown.
Joining Hiesler in the trip to Austin will be Greg Norman, who finished second in the pole vault with a clearance of 14 feet. The top mark in the 3A pole vault belongs to Tolar’s Warren Miller at 16 feet.
Keene’s Grace Stephens and Rio Vista’s Corbin Stulir just missed qualifying for state in their respective events. Stephens finished third in the 300-meter hurdles with a personal record time of 47.53 seconds. And Stulir placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in a time of 15.63 seconds.
The 2018 UIL track and field state meet is set for May 11-12 at The University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.