AUSTIN, Texas — The most surprising aspect of the 2017 track and field season may not be the world-beating talent that lies within Waxahachie's thinly drawn borders.
It may be that they are faster, more decisive, markedly more dangerous and more loaded — both boys and girls — than the more than 100 other UIL 5A, 4A and 3A teams at Saturday's Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at the University of Texas' Mike A. Myers Stadium.
The Lady Indians, who didn't have a representative reach the state meet in 2016, may have more than a few when the calendar flips to the months of May and June. Freshman Madison Babers' personal best of 15.82 in the 110-meter hurdles helped her place 52nd in the Texas Relays and Taikieya Granger, Destinnie Grant, Keyira Sharp and Caitlyn Volentine's 52.31 finish in the Division II 4x100-meter relay netted the 88th best time.
Babers, Volentine, Essence Clerkley and Alli Wells' 4:09 time in the 4x400-meter relay was good for No. 63 out of 93 teams. Last season,Clerkley, Sharp, Shai'Ann Carroll and Keanna Jones finished the 4x100-meter relay in 53.08 (No. 88) and Grant, Wells, Tyra Lacey and Katie Ward finished the 4x400-meter relay in 4:06.93 (No. 36).
The Lady Indians did not have a female hurdle competitor compete in last year's Texas Relays.
The boys, too, may be better than 4x100- and 4x200-meter relay team of Trey Jackson, Jalen Reagor, Kenedy Snell and Damonte Wilson that finished in the top three teams during the UIL track and field state championship at the same venue.
Eleven months ago, that tandem ran a 40.41 and helped Waxahachie High School record the second and fourth fastest times in the nation, according to MileSplit USA, a website dedicated to compiling times and standings for track and field athletes in the United States.
Snell, the anchor leg on the relay, also won the 100-meter dash with a 10.48. It ranked him No. 12 on the national list of the country's fastest boys.
Last season, the relay teams fell less than 30 seconds behind Fort Bend Marshall, DeSoto and Lancaster high schools in the 4X100-meter and trailed Fort Bend Marshall by less than .20 seconds in the 4x200-meter relay. Only one team, according to the website, cracked the top five in each relay — Georgia’s Southwest Dekalb High School in both— was from outside Texas.
Under Andre Granger, the program's first-year head coach, the Indian combo of Jackson, Reagor, Snell and De'veon Sargent won the 4x100-meter relay with an eye-popping time of 41.16. Their time was faster than 6A DeSoto's Charles Butler, Zavian Goodman, Donovan Smith and Frederic Williams (41.21) and powerhouse Lancaster's Kevontre Bradford, Tylin Jackson, Justin Luckey and Jordan Hollis (41.23) — and every other team in the nation.
It was also less than a second slower than the near-champion state sprint team's time last year. The Flyin' Indians quartet also placed fifth in the 4x200-meter relay with a time of 1:26.24.
A week earlier and down key sprinters because of split competitions with the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays and Marshall Young Invitational, Waxahachie scored 88 total points finished in fifth place behind Crowley (1), Richland Senior (2), Cleburne (3) and Kennedale (4) High Schools and tied with Grandbury (5) High School. Nick Henderson finished first in the 300-meter hurdles, Brandon Gilliland finished second in the 1600-meter run, Ashton Moore finished second in the 110-meter hurdles and Austin Mick finished second in the 400-meter dash.
The boys and girls will compete in the 10-5A District Meet on April 12 at Lancaster High School.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached for story idea submissions or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter at @MarcusMarionWNI.