clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Longhorn signees set to compete at the UIL state track & field meet

Three UT football signees and seven track signees will close out their high school athletic careers in Austin this weekend.

Texas Longhorn football signee Jelani McDonald (Waco Connally) competes in the triple jump at the 2023 District 23-4A track & field meet. McDonald is the defending Class 4A state champion in that event and is scheduled to compete at the 4A state meet on May 11, 2023.
photo by Mya Pate (used by permission)

The Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) Track & Field State Meet is scheduled to be held this Thursday through Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus. Three Texas Longhorn football signees and seven Longhorn track & field signees are among the hundreds of athletes set to compete.

As of this writing, the weather forecast for this weekend projects a 40-60% chance of rain for all three days of the state meet, with 1-2 inches of rain expected for Saturday alone. So the start times and even the dates for the scheduled events are definitely subject to change. The full overview and schedule for the state meet, information for prospective spectators, and the full list of participants can be found at the meet’s official website here.

Many historic Longhorn football players distinguished themselves in the sport of track & field during their high school years, and some were standouts in the sport while wearing burnt orange as well. This post will detail the future Longhorns who are set to compete in Austin this weekend, and will also list some gridiron Longhorns of past years who won state gold medals in the same events as the trio of football signees who are at the 2023 state meet.

But first, a brief primer on the (metaphorical) hurdles an athlete must clear in order to reach the state track & field meet. In early April each district throughout the state holds its district track & field meet, and the top four finishers in each event advance to their respective area meets. The area meets are comprised of athletes from “neighboring” districts, such as Districts 1 and 2 in Class 6A, or Districts 7 and 8 of Class 3A. The top four finishers in each event at the area meets advance to their regional meet. All of the UIL’s classifications from 1A to 6A are split into four regions. The top two finishers in each event at the regional meets automatically qualify for the state meet for their classification, along with a wild card qualifier who records the best distance or time among the third-place finishers in their classification’s four regional meets.

Texas Longhorn football signees competing at the 2023 Texas Track & Field State Meet

Ryan Niblett (Houston Eisenhower)

Class 6A boys long jump
Scheduled start time: Saturday, May 13 at 10:45 a.m.

Niblett, a speed merchant who signed with Texas as a composite four-star wide receiver prospect, will be competing at the state meet for the first time, and he is one of nine finalists in the 6A long jump.

As a junior in 2022, Niblett reached the regional finals in four different events (the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 4x100 meter relay, and long jump) but finished no better than 3rd in any of them and did not qualify for state. He punched his ticket to this year’s state meet two weeks ago by winning the long jump at the Class 6A Region II meet in Waco with a top leap of 23’ 8.5”.

That distance is the fourth-best seed mark among the 6A long jump state finalists. Dickinson senior Marquis Johnson has the best seed mark, having won the Region III meet with a jump of 24’ 8.5”. Johnson previously finished 4th in the event at the 2022 6A state meet with a jump of 23’ 11”. Other returning state finalists are Austin Westlake senior Ashton Toms and Katy Tompkins junior Jayden Keys, who finished 2nd and 3rd at state a year ago. Toms, a Miami track signee, won the 6A long jump as a sophomore at the 2021 state meet, and his winning 25’ jump at last month’s Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays is the best by a Texan high schooler this year.

Ryan Niblett will likely need to have the jump of his life to contend for a gold medal, but if he were to win the event he would join a distinguished group of Longhorn football players who won the long jump at a Texas high school state meet. That list is currently as follows:

James Lott (Refugio) — Class 3A (1982-83)
Tony Jones (Grapeland) — Class 3A (1984-85)
Willie Mack Garza (Refugio) — Class 2A (1987)
Roy Williams (Odessa Permian) — Class 5A (2000)
Ramonce Taylor (Belton) — Class 5A (2003-04)
Marquise Goodwin (Rowlett) — Class 5A (2007-09)
Joshua Moore (Yoakum) — Class 3A (2018)

In addition to those high school state champions, three Longhorn football players have won the long jump at either a Southwest Conference or Big 12 Conference outdoor championship:

Judson Atchison (1937-39)
Eric Metcalf (1987)
Marquise Goodwin (2010-12)

“Judson Atchison, Eric Metcalf, and Marquise Goodwin” is also the answer to the trivia question, “Who are the three Texas Longhorn football players who were NCAA long jump champions?” Atchison was the NCAA’s outdoor long jump champion in 1939, while Metcalf (who still holds UT’s school record in that event) won NCAA long jump titles in 1986 and 1988, and Goodwin did the same in 2010 and 2012.

Trevor Goosby (Melissa)

Class 5A boys shot put
Scheduled start time: Friday, May 12 at 10:30 a.m.

Goosby signed with Texas in December as a composite four-star offensive tackle recruit. Like Ryan Nesbitt, he is making his first appearance at a state track meet. He qualified for state after finishing 2nd in the shot put at the 5A Region II meet with a personal best toss of 57’ 8.25”. That regional performance is the third-best seed mark among the 5A shot put finalists, though five of the other state finalists have topped it this season, and three of them have put the shot 60 or more feet.

Friendswood junior Brandon Schirck, who finished 4th at last year’s state meet and is making a return trip to Austin, had a heave of 62’ 3.75” at the Texas Relays, which is the best by a 5A thrower this year.

At the 5A level, a shot putter needs to get over 50 feet to even be in the conversation as a potential state meet qualifier. Trevor Goosby was far from that a year ago, as the best performances for the 2022 season listed on his profile were a mere 43 feet. But this season he put the shot just shy of 50 feet at a pair of March meets, then went over 52 feet at his district meet in mid-April before setting a personal best with his 57’ 8.25” throw at regionals two weeks ago. That he was able to even qualify for regionals — let alone the state meet — this year suggests that has had a marked improvement in his physical development since the end of his junior year, and one suspects he has barely scratched the surface of his athletic potential.

The shot put is an event in which a baker’s dozen of future Texas Longhorn football players have taken home gold medals at past UIL state meets. That group includes:

Oscar Eckhardt (Austin) — Class A, 1919
Leo Baldwin (Wichita Falls) — Class A, 1924
Ken Jackson (Austin) — 1946
Robert Young (Brownwood) — Class 3A, 1960
Wade Johnston (Agua Dulce) — Class B, 1971
Marty Akins (Gregory-Portland) — Class 3A, 1972
Bryan Millard (Dumas) — Class 3A, 1979
Britt Hager (Odessa Permian) — Class 5A, 1984
Duane Duncum (Austin Westlake) — Class 4A, 1985-86
Tony Brackens (Fairfield) — Class 3A, 1993
Roger Roesler — Class 4A, 1994 (at Austin Anderson); and Class 5A, 1996 (at Round Rock)
Brian Robison (Splendora) — Class 3A, 2002
Dallas Griffin (Katy Taylor) — Class 5A, 2003

(Note: from 1918 through 1924, the only divisions at the state meet were Class A and Class B. From 1925 through 1947, there were no class divisions at the state meet and there was only one state champion crowned in each event. Classifications returned with the 1948 state meet, and separate competitions were held for Classes 2A, A, and B, as well as the short-lived City Conference, and every state meet since then has featured competitions for at least that many classifications.)

There have been a number of future Longhorn track athletes who have won recent state titles in the shot put, most notably brothers Adrian and Patrick Piperi, who won a combined four state meet gold medals in the shot put between 2015 and 2019. But if Trevor Goosby were to leave Austin with a state title on Friday he would become the first future Longhorn football player to win that event since Dallas Griffin twenty years ago.

Multi-sport college athletes were far more common in the early 1900s and into the 1940s than they are today, and many Longhorn football lettermen have also been throwers on the UT track & field team. No fewer than six of them have won the shot put at a Southwest Conference or Big 12 Conference outdoor championship meet. That group is comprised of:

K.L. Berry (1915-16)
Frank Dayvault (1924)
Bud Sprague (1925)
Leo Baldwin (1926, 1928-29)
George Petrovich (1949)
Brian Robison (2005-06)

Jelani McDonald (Waco Connally)

Class 4A boys triple jump
Scheduled start time: Thursday, May 11 at 2:45 p.m.

McDonald signed with Texas in January as a composite four-star athlete. He has been a three-sport star in his time at Connally High School, and he will be making his third and final career appearance at the state track meet. He won the triple jump at the 2022 Class 4A state meet with a leap of 48’ 2”. As a sophomore in 2021 he finished 2nd at state in both the triple jump and high jump. He finished 2nd in the triple jump two weeks ago at the Class 4A Region III meet, and his top regional jump of 46’ 9.75” is the fifth-best seed mark among the 4A state finalists.

Though he is the returning state champion in the 4A triple jump, McDonald will be neither the odds-on favorite nor the sentimental favorite in the event. Those roles will both be filled by Taylor senior Jarvis Anderson, a Stephen F. Austin State University signee. Anderson, who was born deaf, has developed into a remarkable multi-sport athlete and plans to play both football and track & field in college. He will compete at the 4A state meet in the 110-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, and the long jump, in addition to the triple jump.

At the 4A Region III meet in 2022, Anderson unleashed an amazing 51’ 1” triple jump that was the second-best performance by a Texas high schooler that season. But instead of going for a gold medal at the state meet two weeks later, he instead chose to compete at the 2022 Summer Deaflympics in Brazil, the track events for which were scheduled for the same week. His best jump in the men’s triple jump at the Deaflympics was a little over 45’ 6”, which was good enough to garner 2nd place, though it was five and a half feet shy of his career best, and was also nearly three feet less than the 48’ 2” that Jelani McDonald flew to win the triple jump final that same week at the 4A state meet.

McDonald actually finished 3rd in the triple jump behind Anderson and Oliver Miles at the 4A Region III track meet in 2022, and though he technically reached the state meet by taking the qualifying spot from Region III that Anderson vacated when he withdrew from the state meet field to compete at the Deaflympics, he would have qualified for state anyway by virtue of having easily the best third-place jump from the four Class 4A regional meets (his 46’ 4” jump would have finished no worse than 2nd at any of the other regional meets).

Anderson is locked in to the state meet this year, and his winning triple jump of 49’ 3” two weeks ago at the 4A Region III meet is the best by a 4A jumper this year, according to So far this season Jelani McDonald has not matched his winning jump from the 2022 state meet, but if he can get at least into the 47- or 48-foot range on Thursday he’ll have a great chance to finish his high school athletic career with his fourth state meet medal. To do so he’ll have to contend not only with Jarvis Anderson but also the returning 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers from the 2022 state meet: El Campo junior Oliver Miles (who jumped 49’ 0.5” to win this year’s 4A Region IV meet) and Wimberley senior Gabriel Wray (who finished 2nd behind Miles in the Region IV final with a jump of 47’ 8.75”).

The triple jump has only been part of the UIL’s track & field state meet program since 1990, so there is not a long history of future Longhorn athletes winning that event. The only Longhorn football lettermen to do so are:

Marquise Goodwin (Rowlett) — Class 5A (2008-09)
Montrell Estell (Hooks) — Class 3A (2017)

Kerwin Roach, a four-year member of the Longhorn basketball team from 2016 to 2019, was also an elite triple jumper in his high school days, and he jumped over 50 feet to win that event at the state meet in both his junior and senior years at Galena Park North Shore (2014-15).

Texas Longhorn track & field signees competing at the 2023 Texas track & field state meet

In addition to the three above-named future gridiron Longhorns, six boys and one girl who have signed with UT’s track & field program are likewise scheduled to participate in this week’s state meet. Below are summaries for each of them.

Wyatt Athey (Denton)

Class 5A boys 3,200-meter run

Athey will finish his high school career by making his first state meet appearance. He qualified for state by finishing 2nd in the 3,200 meters at the 5A Region I meet, after finishing 3rd in that event at regionals in both his sophomore and junior years. His 9:36.22 time at regionals is by far the slowest seed time among the 5A state finalists, though the 5A Region I meet was held in very windy conditions. Athey actually has the fastest time by a 5A runner this year, having clocked a 9:02.53 at a late January meet. His times at his district, area, and regional meets haven’t come particularly close to that performance, but if he were to repeat it at state he’d be just over three seconds shy of the 5A state meet record.

Hudson Bennett (Burnet)

Class 4A boys 1,600-meter run

Bennett will be making his third and final appearance at the state meet, and will run in the 4A boys 1,600 meter final. He finished 2nd in this event at the 2022 state meet, and 3rd in 2021. He is also a two-time state champion in the 3,200 meters, having won that event at the 4A state meet in both 2021 and 2022. He finished 3rd in the 3,200 at the 4A Region III meet, and his time of 9:25.80 was three seconds faster than the next-best 3rd place time at the other regional meets, so he could have come to Austin as the wild card state qualifier in that event and attempted a three-peat performance, but he evidently elected to run only the 1,600 meter final.

Bennett’s regional time of 4:23.65 is the second-best seed time among the 4A state finalists behind only Anna junior Kenny Bibb, who finished 7th in the 1,600 at state last year. The event’s defending state champion, Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis junior Angel Sanchez, ran by far the fastest 1,600 time by a 4A runner this year with a 4:11.26 at April’s Texas Relays. But he was a scratch in this race at the District 9/10-4A area meet, so Bennett will not get a chance to avenge his narrow loss to Sanchez in last year’s 1,600 meter state final, or his third-place finish behind Sanchez’s winning run at last fall’s 4A cross country state championship. To win his third state meet gold medal overall, and his first in the 1,600, he’ll have to top a field that includes three other state finalists from a year ago, along with Gatesville senior Carlo Martinez, a Louisiana-Monroe track commit who finished 0.65 seconds behind Bennett at regionals and whose season-best time of 4:19.98 is the second-fastest by a 4A runner this year.

Jack Boyd (Klein Oak)
Luis Pastor (El Paso Coronado)

Class 6A boys 1,600-meter run and 3,200-meter run

Future Longhorn teammates Jack Boyd and Luis Pastor will both be running in the 6A boys 3,200-meter final and 1,600-meter final. Pastor finished 5th in the 1,600 at last year’s state meet, and in the 3,200 meters he finished 4th at state in 2022 and 5th in 2021. This is Boyd’s first trip to the state track meet, though he has twice run at the 6A cross-country state meet, and last fall he finished 2nd at that event (Pastor finished in 10th place).

Among the 3,200 meter state finalists, Pastor has the second-best seed time (9:05.01), while Boyd’s 9:19.02 regional time was the slowest. The winning time in the 3,200 meters at the state meet for Class 6A (which was called 5A until 2014) has been below nine minutes in 13 of the past 16 years. Austin Vandegrift senior Kevin Sanchez and Houston Strake Jesuit senior Reese Vannerson, who finished 1st and 2nd at state a year ago, are among the state finalists again and are the only Texan high schoolers to clock sub-9:00 times this season. Pastor has run this distance as fast as 9:03.83 (his 4th place time at state in 2022), while the personal best listed on Boyd’s profile is the 9:04.04 he ran at April’s Texas Relays.

In the 1,600 meters, Pastor has the third-best seed time (4:13.65), while Boyd’s regional time (4:19.79) was the second-slowest among the nine state qualifiers. The aforementioned Reese Vannerson, an Arizona State signee, has the fastest 1,600 meter time of any Texas high school runner this year, with a 4:06.87 that he ran to win an early March meet. Jack Boyd finished 2nd at that same meet, running a personal best of 4:12.20. Luis Pastor’s personal best is the 4:11.34 that got him 4th place at last year’s state meet.

Brock Lewis (Boerne Champion)

Class 5A boys 110-meter hurdles

Lewis has the fifth-best seed time in the 5A 110-meter hurdles final, having run a 14.39 to win the event at the 5A Region IV meet. This is his second career trip to the state track meet; as a sophomore in 2021 he finished 6th in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.46. Fort Bend Marshall senior Arveyon Davis, a Texas A&M track commit, has the fastest seed time after running a blistering (and very wind-aided) 13.53 at the Class 5A Region III meet. Davis previously finished 3rd in the 110 hurdles at both the 2021 and 2022 state meets.

(Note: a performance in a sprinting or jumping event in track & field is considered “wind-aided” and not eligible for state or national records consideration if it is done with a tailwind measuring more than two meters per second.)

Lauren Lewis (Prosper)

Class 6A girls 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash

Lewis is the reigning state champion in the 6A girls 400-meter dash, and is one of the individual headliners of the 6A state meet. In 2022 she ran a winning time of 52.54, which was just 0.06 seconds shy of Brandi Cross’s Class 6A state meet record, set 16 years earlier. She appears poised for a 200-400 state meet double this year.

At the District 5/6-6A area meet last month, Lewis ran the 400 meters in a new state record time of 51.83. In good track conditions on Saturday she would be favored to break the previous all-classifications state meet record of 52.40, which was set in 2012 by former Longhorn and Olympic runner Courtney Okolo. But if the current weather forecast is accurate, Saturday’s 6A meet is unlikely to be held in anything resembling ideal racing conditions. Lewis will still be the heavy favorite to repeat as the 400-meter champion, as her state-record time is nearly two seconds faster than any other 6A girl has run this season, but the state meet record might be out of reach if she’s running on a wet track.

Lewis is also set to compete in the 200 meters, an event in which she qualified for state last year but did not run in the final heat. Her wind-aided time of 23.10 seconds at the 6A Region I meet is not only the fastest seed time among the state finalists, but is also the fastest time run by a Texas high school girl this season. The Class 6A state meet record in that event is 23.04, and it has stood since 1981.

Michael Pinones (San Antonio East Central)

Class 6A boys shot put

Pinones is making his third trip to the state meet, and he will be going for his first career gold medal. He finished 7th in the Class 6A shot put final as a sophomore in 2021, then in 2022 he finished 2nd with a toss of 66’ 5.75”, which was twenty inches behind winner Matthew Rueff of Katy Seven Lakes, who now throws the discus and shot put for Auburn.

Pinones returned to state after winning the 6A Region IV meet with a top heave of 66’ 6.25”. That was the best throw by a Texas high schooler this season, though it’s just four inches better than the 66’ 2.25” throw that David Wilson of Hurst L.D. Bell had at the Class 6A Region I meet. Wilson, who recently committed to Texas Tech for track, finished 3rd in the shot put at last year’s state meet. He and Pinones are the only throwers in the 6A field who have put the shot further than 63’ 2” in 2023. Prior to regionals, Pinones had a season-best of 65’ 3.5”, and he has topped 63’ 3” in at least four meets this year, so based on prior performances in 2023 it would be a surprise if he finished outside the top three at his final high school meet.

Good luck to all of those future Longhorns as they journey to Austin this weekend and look to end their high school athletic careers on a high note!