Many of the best high school athletes in Texas will be in Austin this weekend for the U.I.L. Track and Field State Meet, which will be held at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the UT campus Friday and Saturday. As is annually the case, the participants include several young men who will be playing Division I football a year or two from now, a handful of which are future Texas Longhorns. These athletes will be aiming to add their name to the long list of Longhorn football notables who won a gold medal at the state track meet during their high school career. This group includes Roy Williams, Quan Cosby, Dallas Griffin, Brian Robison, Ramonce Taylor, Jamaal Charles, Marquise Goodwin, D.J. Monroe, Sheroid Evans, and Quandre Diggs, among others. (For UT baseball fans reading this, I should note that Drew Stubbs is also part of the club, as he was a member of Atlanta's 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams that topped the class 3A group at the state meet in 2003).
As talented as these guys were on the track, for most of them the state meet was their last time to compete in that sport, and for almost all of them it was the final time they represented their high school in an athletic competition. A few, however, have been talented enough to both play football and excel in track and field at the college level. Former UT All-American running back and 13-year NFL player Eric Metcalf was a two-time NCAA outdoor champion in the long jump and he still holds the school record in that event, which he set in 1988 with a leap of 27'8.25" (at the time only 3 Americans had ever jumped farther.)
More recently, all-conference defensive end Brian Robison won the Big 12 championship in the the shot put in 2005, then followed that up by winning both the shot put and discus in 2006. Running back Jamaal Charles won the conference title in the 100 meters as a freshman in 2006, four months after he helped Texas win the BCS National Championship game, and a year after he won the Class 5A state gold medals in the 110 meter hurdles and 300 meter hurdles (the 2nd place finisher in both races: future UT punter Trevor Gerland). And most prominent among current football/track dual athletes is wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who competes in sprints and the long jump for the Longhorn track team. He is the two-time Big 12 outdoor champion in the long jump and will attempt to defend his title at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships this weekend in Manhattan, Kansas. He is a strong contender to represent the United States in the long jump at this summer's Olympic Games in London.
Maybe, just maybe, the next Brian Robison or Jamaal Charles will be roaming the infield this weekend at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
The following 2012 Texas football signees and 2013 commits are scheduled to compete at the state track meet:
Adrian Colbert (Mineral Wells) - Class 3A 200 meters, 400 meters, and 4x100 meter relay
Kendall Sanders (Athens) - Class 3A long jump
Antwuan Davis (Bastrop) - Class 4A 100 meters
Kennedy Estelle (Pearland Dawson) - Class 4A shot put
Bryson Echols (DeSoto) - Class 5A 4x100 meter relay and 4x200 meter relay
And two other participants have outstanding 2013 offers, as of this writing:
Robert Rhodes (Fort Worth Southwest) - Class 4A 200 meters, 4x100 meter relay, and 4x200 meter relay
Dontre Wilson (DeSoto) - Class 5A 4x100 meter relay and 4x200 meter relay
Some notes on each of these and a few other state meet participants after the jump.
* The current Austin weather forecast for the weekend: 80% chance of rain Friday with a high of 73, and scattered thunderstorms early in the day Saturday with an afternoon high of 80. We'll see what that does to the state meet. Hopefully it doesn't become a test of who can excel in nasty conditions. That might make for an epic old school, hard-fought football game, but is terrible for putting on a good track meet, and can lead to all kinds of injuries.
* The U.I.L.'s lists of state meet qualifiers notes seed times or seed marks for the participants in each running and field event. These are the times and distances the athletes recorded at their respective regional meets and do not necessarily represent their best performances of the season. A bit of a primer for readers unfamiliar with the path an athlete must take to make it this far. The top three finishers in each event at the various district track meets advance to regionals. There are four regions in each classification; in Texas, the classifications range from Class A to 5A. The top two finishers in each event at the regional meets advance to the state meet, along with a wild card slot filled by the top third place performance, so each race and field event at the state meet will have 9 finalists in each classification. For purposes of scoring, the top six finishers in each event score points for their school, and at the end of the meet the school with the most total points is awarded the state team championship. The point system Texas uses for high school track meets heavily favors schools with strong relay teams.
* 2012 signee Kendall Sanders advanced to the Class 3A region 3 meet in the long jump and high jump after winning both events at his district meet. Sanders placed 2nd in the long jump at regionals with a distance of 22'1.75", but "a tender groin" (Gerry Hamilton's description) kept him from competing in the high jump. He stands a good chance at medaling at state but it would be a major upset if he won the long jump. His seed mark is the 7th best mark among the 3A jumpers, and headlining the group is Arkansas track signee Jarrion Lawson of Texarkana Liberty-Eylau, the defending 3A champion in both the long jump and triple jump. Lawson has long jumped over 25' this season, while the 22'1.75" Sanders jumped at regionals appears to be his personal best.
* 2012 signee Adrian Colbert won the Class 3A 400 meter dash at the 2011 state meet with a time of 48.27, but he hasn't come close to matching that time this season and barely qualified to return to state and defend his title. He finished 3rd at the Class 3A region 1 meet and only advanced to state by virtue of having the best time among the 3rd place finishers at regionals, though his seed time is actually 6th best overall. He'll have to work very hard to have a chance at repeating in the 400 because two of his competitors have run sub-48 second times. While he hasn't topped his 2011 times in the 400 meters, he has shown very good speed in the 200 meter dash throughout the season, consistently recording sub-22 second times and placing 2nd at regionals with a time of 21.44, which is also the 2nd best seed time at state. Colbert's best chance at leaving Austin with another state gold medal may be as the 2nd leg of Mineral Wells's 4x100 meter relay team. Their 41.77 time in the regional preliminary heat was a school record, and the 41.82 they ran in the regional final is the best seed time among the state participants. Their top competition will likely come from the relay team from Celina, the only other foursome to boast a sub-42 second seed time. Celina (aka Raulersonville) has the best chance of winning the 3A boys team title, as they have two relay teams and 6 individuals competing.
* Recent 2013 commit Antwuan Davis boasts the best seed time among the Class 4A 100 meter competitors. He won his regional meet with a time of 10.49, after running a 10.40 in his prelim heat in what was reported to be windy conditions. He also recorded a 200 meter time of 21.73 this season, but did not run the event at his district meet.
* 2012 signee Kennedy Estelle will be competing in the shot put at the state meet for the third time. He placed 6th in 2011 and 2nd in 2010 (one spot ahead of future UT offensive line-mate Josh Cochran). Last month, he placed 2nd at the 4A region 3 meet with a throw of 60'1.5", a distance that would have won Class 4A state gold in 2010 and 2009. In 2012, however, that seed mark merely makes him the odds-on favorite to place third. His is a full three-and-a-half feet ahead of the 4th best seed mark, but nearly two-and-a-half feet behind the 2nd best. He's good enough that he could compete in the shot put at the college level if he keeps improving.
* DeSoto High School's 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams feature two of the premier sprinters in the state. Oh, and they also have Bryson Echols and Dontre Wilson. Echols, a 2012 UT signee, runs the first leg of both relays. He hands the baton to Wilson, who ran a blazing 21.15 time to win the 200 meter dash at district, but didn't run as well at regionals and failed to qualify for state in the event. Running the last two legs of both relays are: (Cedar Hill transfer) Tremayne Acy and (2012 New Mexico football signee) Ridge Jones, a duo that took the top two places in the 100 meter dash at both the district and regional meets, with their times separated by just 0.01in both races. Acy edged Jones to win district, then Jones returned the favor at the 5A region 2 meet. Their times in the district final (10.35 for Acy, 10.36 for Jones) are the fastest either has run this year. Acy and Jones have the 3rd and 4th best seed times in the 100 meter dash field.
Put those four together and you get a team that has run the fastest 4x100 and 4x200 relay times in the nation this year, according to Track and Field News. In the 4x100 (aka the "sprint relay") DeSoto's team has run as fast as 40.59, and they have so far topped out at 1:24.04 in the 4x200 relay. They will be the favorites in both events, despite having only the 2nd best seed time in each after regionals. The Class 5A boys 4x100 meter relay might be the best race of the whole weekend. In a very deep group, South Grand Prairie's seed time of 41.40 is merely the 6th best among the 9 qualifiers! And Mansfield Timberview added to the hype when their sprint relay team (anchored by Texas A&M track signee Aldrich Bailey, arguably the fastest high schooler in the nation right now) ran a 40.67 at the Class 5A region 1 meet, meaning the 5A sprint relay race at the state meet will feature the nation's two fastest teams. As my high school track coach would say, there's gonna be smoke coming off that track on Saturday night! (At least if the rain doesn't put a damper on things.)
* A little more on Aldrich Bailey. He stands a good chance of taking home three gold medals this weekend. Along with anchoring Mansfield Timberview's 4x100 meter and 4x400 meter relay teams (the latter of which owns the nation's fastest time this year), he will be the heavy favorite to defend his state title in the 400 meter dash. At the Class 5A region 1 meet in April he ran 400 meters in 45.19 seconds, the sixth-fastest time ever for an American high schooler, and the fastest recorded in 17 years. Just for the heck of it, he entered the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes at the Lancaster Regional Qualifiers Meet, one of several warm-up meets statewide that are held the week before regionals, and in which athletes can be entered in any event and not just the ones they are slated to run at regionals. He dominated the competition, running the 100 meters in 10.21 and the 200 meters in 20.82. Bailey's top times in the 100, 200, and 400 would all beat the best times run by a Texas Longhorn sprinter in 2012. He will be joining a Texas A&M track program that has won three consecutive NCAA men's team championships. Needless to say, he'll be an elite sprinter at whatever distance(s) he ends up focusing on, and he is someone we're very likely to see during the running events at the 2016 Olympic Games.
* Robert Rhodes, a 2013 wide receiver who Texas offered last week, will be competing in one individual race and as a member of two relays at the state meet. (He's better known as Robbie, but I'm told his mother prefers he be called Robert, so this writer will henceforth call him by that name.) Rhodes won the 200 meter dash at the 4A region 1 meet with a time of 21.14, giving him the best seed time in that event by a full three-tenths of a second. (Worth noting: only one sprinter on the Texas track team has run the 200 as quickly in 2012.) Rhodes and his teammates on Fort Worth Southwest's 4x100 meter relay team barely edged Mansfield Summit in the final at regionals. Both teams posted an official time of 41.38, which had to be broken down to the ten-thousands of a second before Southwest's 41.3743 came out ahead of Summit's 41.3788. As such, the two teams are officially tied for the best seed time. Southwest had a more decisive victory in the 4x200 meter relay, posting a prelim time of 1:26.06, then winning the final heat in 1:26.11, beating 2nd place Denton Ryan by a half-second and besting a field in which the top 6 teams all ran times DyeStat listed as "U.S. top 100 elite performances".
Rhodes also competed in the high jump this season, clearing the bar at 6'4" at a March meet, but he did not compete in the event at regionals. This is the 2nd trip to state for Rhodes and his 4x100 relay teammates, who ran a 41.45 and finished 4th in the event at the 2011 state meet when all four were sophomores. With that experience and the times they have run this year, they should be the favorites to win this weekend, and barring injury they'll be the favorites again when they are seniors at the 2013 state meet.
* Two 2012 signees ran in the 2011 state meet but did not make a return trip. All-Milky Way Galaxy running back Johnathan Gray placed 4th in the Class 4A 100 meter dash with a time of 10.90, though his best time was a 10.61 that he clocked at that year's 4A region 1 meet. He competed in a few meets this year but I couldn't find any record of him running at his district meet, let alone regionals.
Duke Thomas ran the first leg of Copperas Cove's 4x100 and 4x200 meter relay teams at the state meet in 2011, both of which placed 2nd among 5A teams, recording times of 40.89 and 1:24.84, respectively. Thomas also competed in long jump, flying 24'2.5" on his best leap at district, but he did not do nearly as well at regionals and failed to advance to state in the event, while his Copperas Cove teammate John Horton ended up winning the Class 5A long jump with a 24'5.25" jump. Thomas was also very good in the 110 high hurdles, having run as fast as 13.95 at a meet his sophomore year (2010). He entered the 2011 district meet as the favorite in the 110 hurdles, but in the final heat he tripped on one of the hurdles and fell. Had he not enrolled early at UT and skipped what would have been his last high school track season, he would very likely be competing in at least one - if not two or three - events at the state meet this weekend.
* Recent USC commit Eldridge Massington, a 2013 wide receiver who never received a Texas offer, much to the chagrin of Longhorn fans all over the internet, will be competing in the Class 4A 100 meter dash. If you follow Wescott on Twitter you've probably seen a few tweets about Massington's sprinting prowess. The 10.61 he ran in the 100 meter final at regionals is the third best seed time, though ran even faster in his regional prelim heat, clocking a 10.52. He is also listed as an alternate runner for West Mesquite's 4x100 relay team, which has the 4th best 4A seed time (41.66). I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he ends up running in that relay. I won't comment on his receiving skills here, but he has very remarkable speed for a guy reported to be 6'3" and 200 lbs.
* Some Texas signees and commits showed off at their district meets but didn't quite make it to state.
-2013 commit Ricky Seals-Jones high-jumped 6'2" and finished third at regionals, but did not advance farther.
-2012 signee Marcus Johnson finished in the top 3 in four events (100 meters, 200 meters, 4x200 meter relay, and long jump) at his district meet, posting good but far from spectacular marks in each of them. He didn't come particularly close to making it past regionals in any event.
-2012 signee Dalton Santos competed in both discuss and shot put at regionals, finishing 5th and 6th in those events. He heaved the shot 51'9.5" at district, but couldn't come within two feet of that distance at regionals, though he would have needed to far surpass it to advance to state.
-2012 signee Curtis Riser competed in shot put and threw as far as 51'8.75" this season. He won 3rd in his district but didn't seriously compete for a spot at regionals.
* There will also be athletes competing who have signed with or committed to one of Texas' Big 12 opponents, and others who would be future conference opponents had Texas A&M not fled to the SEC.
-Baylor's two top-rated 2012 signees will be at the meet. Javonte Magee will throw in the Class 3A discus competition (he has the best seed mark: 179'), and Corey Coleman is in the Class 4A high jump and long jump. He does not have a top 4 seed mark in either event, but the fact that he can high jump 6'7", long jump 22'11.5" and run 200 meters in 21.91 (which he did at district) gives you an idea of his overall athleticism.
Texas defector 2012 A&M signee Thomas Johnson competed in the long jump and had a season-best jump of 24'3.5", but for some reason he did not compete at the 5A district 9 meet and did not advance to the regional level. I'm almost positive the Mack Brown curse had something to do with this.
-2013 A&M commit LaQuvionte Gonzalez will be in the Class 5A high jump group. He is listed (generously, some say) at 5'11", but he cleared the bar at 6'10" at his district meet, a remarkable feat for someone of any height, let alone one under 6' tall.
-Wescott has compared LaQuvionte Gonzalez to Don'tre Wilson in the past. The two are familiar with each other. They used to run together as members of the A.W. Brown Track Club in Dallas. In the summer of 2010, Gonzalez and Wilson teamed with Tremayne Acy (then of Cedar Hill) and Lancaster's Reggie Hinson to form a 4x100 relay team that ran a time of 41.95, remarkable in that Hinson was an incoming junior and the other three were incoming sophomores at the time. Put those same four together now and they might give DeSoto's relay teams a good run.
* One last item for the fans who have not only read the first 3,299 words of this post, but who also follow Texas Longhorn track and field. Three Longhorn track signees will be competing at the state meet on their future home track. Killeen's Victor Glaze will be competing in the Class 4A high jump, and his 6'10" seed mark is tied with two others for 2nd best. Frisco Liberty distance runner Brady Turnbull will compete in the Class 4A 1600 meter and 3200 meter runs, and he goes into the state meet with the top seed times at both distances. And Reese Watson of Spring High School is competing in the Class 5A pole vault. Watson has the best seed mark at 15'9", but he has vaulted as high as 16'6.75" outdoors and a national-best 17'7" indoors.