DENTON – For the first time since 2007 there will not be a Waxahachie Indian at the Class 4A state track and field meet in Austin as the Class 4A Region II meet Monday and Tuesday at Fouts Field on the campus of University of North Texas proved to be a tough hurdle to overcome.
Waxahachie was represented in four field events and several running events at the regional meet but could not finish in the top-two to earn the prestigious trip to state after being heavy favorites in the high jump entering the meet.
Dae Dae Davis was the District 15-4A champion in the high jump for the Lady Indians while LaDarius Brown finished second in district on performances that were below their best on the season.
Davis broke her own school record in the high jump with a mark of 5-feet, 8-inches about the midway point of the season and looked to be a shoe-in for state if she could continue at that level while Brown turned in a mark of 6-feet, 7-inches at the Big Green relays in his first meet.
Comparing those results to the results of last year’s state qualifiers and state champions, both Waxahachie jumpers had a good chance of taking home the gold in Austin on May 13.
Before Austin could become a reality Davis and Brown had to get past one of the toughest regions in Class 4A at Fouts Field Tuesday.
Brown was originally scheduled to jump on Monday but the rain and bad weather pushed the event back to Tuesday immediately following the girls.
First up for Waxahachie in the high jump was freshman Courtney Miller, who was coming off her first meet championship of the season with a jump of 5-feet, 2-inches at the Lancaster Regional Qualifier.
Miller cleared the opening height of 4-feet, 10-inches on her second attempt Tuesday in perfect jumping conditions but could not get 5-feet and finished the meet in 20th place.
After watching her teammate exit from the competition earlier than expected Davis went to work in the high jump and found it tougher than anticipated.
Davis cleared 5-feet on her first attempt before getting 5-feet, 2-inches on her third try. With the bar moved up two more inches Davis needed another three jumps to clear 5-feet, 4-inches. The bar proved friendly on her third jump as it danced around on the high jump standard but did not fall allowing Davis to advance to the final four.
The third of the four jumpers in the final flight Davis watched two misses to open competition before Darby Graff of Hallsville cleared 5-feet, 5-inches on her first attempt.
The pressure was on.
Two more misses by her competitors alleviated some of the pressure but Davis still could not get over the bar without it tumbling behind her.
Down to the final three in the flight Davis watched in anticipation as the first competitor failed to make the jump before Sherman’s Jayzhia Softly cleared the bar resulting in a celebration by her coaches.
The pressure was on for Davis.
She had to make her final jump to advance to state. If she missed Graff and Softly advanced and the dreams of the Waxahachie junior had to wait another year.
Davis missed her final jump as the pressure was too much and finished fourth overall because Kasie Trigg of Carrollton Creekview advanced to 5-feet, 5-inches on fewer misses.
“I think the pressure got to both of them. I think it is all mental,” Waxahachie coach Dana Scott said. “Physically, they were ready. Dae Dae was having a little trouble with her arch but she started having trouble at the regional qualifier meet and I think that got in the back of her mind and played a part. She came out here and battled. She only got 5-feet, two-inches at the qualifier and she battled through it today and pulled it out on the third jump but just could not quite get 5-feet, 5-inches. She was not having her best day but she competed.”
While the hopes of Davis and Miller advancing to state this season were shattered Tuesday, Scott believes both will be stronger next year for the experience.
“I think it is great for both the girls to get this far this year as underclassmen. With Courtney being a freshman and Dae Dae a junior we have at least one more season with both. As a freshman it can be pretty intimidating to come out here on this big stage but this experience will help a lot,” Scott said.
Hallsville’s Graff won the competition with a jump of 5-feet, 6-inches, two inches below Davis’ season best while second place finished at 5-feet, 5-inches.
Moving straight into the high jump after basketball season Brown looked as if he was already in mid-season form with several top jumps early.
He did not compete in the regional qualifier and his district result of 6-feet, 2-inches was slightly off his season’s best.
Tuesday proved tough for the Waxahachie senior as it took him three jumps to clear 6-feet before he missed all three tries at 6-feet, 2-inches. He finished 13th overall. Jonathan Fuller of Rockwall Heath won the meet with a jump of 6-feet, 11-inches while a jump of 6-feet, 9-inches was good enough for second place.
Monday night proved to be another night that was tough for the Indians as both relay teams missed out on advancing to state for the first time in four years.
Brown teamed up with Tra Carter, Quin Sargent and Booker Anderson in the 4x200 relay and placed 16th overall with a time of 1:32.54 to miss the cut for Tuesday’s final. The team entered the meet with a seeding time of 1:27.80.
The 4x100 relay team of Brown, Craig Renfro, Anderson and Carter did not finish the race as a runner was injured just before his exchange and could not continue.
Waxahachie just missed advancing to the final eight on Tuesday in the girls 1,600-meter relay as the team of Davis, Stevetia Turner, Danielle Calhoun and Meagan Taylor placed ninth with a time of 4:09.95, about one second behind eighth place Highland Park.
“The weather conditions were really bad and even the top teams like Lancaster and Forney did not run their best times. We had a little hiccup between the second and third leg on the handoff that slowed us down a little bit when our runner got bumped. We ran well and competed and I am pleased,” Scott said.
Elizabeth Martinez placed 15th in the 1,600-meter run for the Lady Indians with a time of 5:40.27, five seconds off her seeding time of 5:35.25.
Waxahachie also had two jumpers in the pole vault on Tuesday that had to overcome the change in jumping times.
With Monday’s field events pushed back into Tuesday the girls started the pole vault first at 9 a.m. and had to start at the height of 10-feet instead of the original starting height of 8-feet.
The change made a big difference as all three District 15-4A competitors could not clear the 10-foot mark on their opening jump and that included Waxahachie’s Katelyn Qualls.
“I think she did a good job. It is really tough to go out there and on your opening height try to jump something you have never cleared before. It would have been her personal best and a school record but she did not let it get to her. She went out there and gave it her best,” Scott said.
Qualls was one of nine jumpers who entered the meet with jumps lower than 10-feet and one of 13 that could not clear the opening height. Only five jumpers advanced past the opening height with first and second place finishing at 12-feet.
On the boys side of the pole vault Waxahachie’s Ray Tunson ran into similar luck.
Tunson advanced to regionals with a jump of 11-feet and the regional event started the bar at 11-feet, 6-inches.
Tunson had cleared 11-feet, 6-inches once this season but he was one of eight jumpers who could not on Tuesday.
Lancaster, one of Waxahachie’s District 15-4A opponents, won both the boys and girls team regional titles.
For a complete wrap of the Region II Class 4A track and field meet with more photos of the event see Sunday’s SportsEXTRA in the Waxahachie Daily Light.