Rivalry helps propel WHS’ Harris to state

One man sharpens other as senor Indian teammates compete in triple jump

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Josh Harris

Waxahachie senior Josh Harris was pushed all season long by teammate and classmate Jaylen Burke to get better in the triple jump — and vice versa — as both battled through the spring and into the championship meet season.

Unfortunately, Burke was not able to keep pace after falling short in the regional meet, but Harris will represent the Indians this weekend in the University Interscholastic League state track and field championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

Harris is seeded sixth in the 6A boys’ triple jump with his leap of 47 feet, 10 inches at the Class 6A Region II meet two weeks ago. Harris will compete on Saturday morning at state. Fort Bend Travis’ Damilare Olukosi is the favorite to win gold after posting the top regional distance of 50-9.

The friendly rivalry between Burke and Harris goes back long before even the District 11-6A meet in Duncanville, when Burke and Harris finished 1-2 in the triple jump. Burke won the gold medal with a leap of 46 feet, 5.25 inches, and Harris was close behind at 46 feet even.

Both advanced to the District 11-6A/12-6A area meet at Waco Midway, and again Burke won the gold medal with a jump of 47 feet, 8 inches while Harris cleared 47-1. But at regionals, Burke placed seventh in the triple jump, clearing 44-3, while Harris went on to win the gold medal.

In Class 5A, a pair of Ellis County juniors, Ennis’ Heath Vernor and Midlothian’s Gabe Songer, will vie in the discus at state. Vernor took the gold medal at the 5A Region II meet and Songer was second.

On the girls’ side, Midlothian sophomore Maddie Fey will go for two gold medals in the discus and shiot put after qualifying in both events. Fey is the defending state champion in the discus, winning as a freshman at Southwest High School in San Antonio in 2021. MHS senior Jade Ferrell will also compete in the 5A girls’ high jump competition. The 5A field events are scheduled for Friday morning.

In Class 4A, Life Waxahachie will have the largest contingent of any local school with qualifiers in five girls’ events, including the No. 1-seeded 4x100-meter relay team of Sanai Gort, Bre’anna Lacy, Tyuanna Simmons and Chaniqua Tonge, who ran a blistering 48.00 to win at the 4A Region II meet. The Lady Mustangs’ 4x200 relay squad of Gort, Tonge, Simmons and Lacy are also the top seed at state after winning in a regional time of 1:41.21.

Lacy will compete in the 200-meter dash and is seeded third; Tonge is seeded No. 2 in the long jump; and sophomore Jasmine Pullins will be entered in the high jump after being selected as a wild card.

Meanwhile, SEC-bound senior jumper Leah Anderson, freshman Evanna Jacobsen and sophomore Stetson Sarratt will represent Midlothian Heritage this weekend.

Anderson came away with three gold medals in the 4A Region II meet, winning the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles and the triple jump. Anderson also advanced in the long jump, finishing second with a personal record.

At last year’s state meet, Anderson took home gold medals in the triple jump and 100 hurdles, and a silver in the 100 hurdles. Anderson signed with the University of Georgia in December.

Jacobsen won the silver medal in the girls’ 800-meter run in a PR of 2:20.60 and will be heading to state as well. Jacobsen also competed in the 1600, finishing ninth.

Sarratt is seeded eighth in the boys’ 4A triple jump after winning gold at regionals, clearing 45-1/2.

Ferris freshman Arieanna Jefferson placed second to Anderson in the triple jump and is seeded second in the state event. Jefferson posted 39-6 in the event, just 14 inches off Anderson’s distance.

In Class 1A, Milford junior Braedyn Woodward will compete in the boys’ 110-meter hurdles after running an 11.05 at the 1A Region IV meet in Corpus Christi. Avalon sophomore Jake Ozymy returns to state after qualifying in the 800-meter run.