By Kathi Bliss
In their final appearances before next week’s District 26-5A, the Lion and Lady Lion Track teams hosted the annual Lion Relays on Thursday evening, in advance of a limited appearance at the Texas Relays at the University of Texas last weekend.
Though Lockhart’s athletes were largely outgunned by powerhouse 6A teams from Killeen and New Braunfels, several Lions and Lady Lions gave individually strong performances which could promise great things for District next week.
The Varsity Lions stacked up 104 points to take a fourth place finish on their home track. The Roos of Killeen resoundingly won with 180 points, while the Canyon Cougars took second with 115 points.
Jesus Aldana struck gold in the field, making a mark of 20’ 5” in the long jump. He also placed fourth in the triple at 38’ 9.5”, and teamed with Gabriel Salazar, Jared Galindo and Fernando Castillo for a silver medal finish in the 400-meter relay, with a final time of 43.96.
Castillo brought in the other gold medal for the Lions, finishing the 200-meter dash in a blistering 22.52 seconds. He also ran the fourth leg of the second-place 800-meter relay, teaming with Salazar, Isaiah Armstrong and Galindo for the placing.
Armstrong scored a pair of bronze medals, finishing the 110-meter hurdles in 15.85 seconds, and hitting 5’ 10” in the high jump. Additionally, he earned points for the Lions with a fourth place finish (41.56) in the 300-meter hurdles.
Distance runner Ian Flores took a bronze for the Lions, with a 10:46.04 finish in the 3,200-meter run. He also scored points for his fifth-place finish (4:48.71) in the 1,600.
Skylar Griffin led the Lions in the pole vault, placing third at a height of 12’ 6”. He was followed by teammates Landon Brown (fifth) and Darius Spruell (sixth), with heights of 11’ and 10’, respectively.
Gabriel Salazar contributed to team standings with a fifth–place finish (11.59) in the 100-meter run; Dylan Schuenemann finished the 800-meter run in 2:06.81 for fifth place, as well.
Greg Rivera rounded out individual scoring with a sixth place mark of 122’ 11” in the discus.
Galindo, Schuenemann, Victor Yanez and Aldana took fourth in the 1,600-meter relay with a final time of 3:40.72.
“All year, the kids have been running against a high level of competition,” Coach David Currey said. “They have never backed down and continue to improve. Our times have gotten better over the entire year, and it will pay off for District.”
The JV Lions also had a day marked by strong individual performances.
Jason Franks dominated the high jump with a height of 5’ 10”, while teammate Ethan Hamm took fifth in the same event at 5’ 6”.
Chris Jaimes won the 800-meter run, with a final time of 2:09.31, with Diego Garcia on his heels in third at 2:12.15. Caleb Marez also earned points in the race, finishing sixth in 2:17.16.
Distance runner Matthew Fernandez brought home a pair of medals, taking second in the 3,200 at 10:50.69, and placing third in the 1,600 in 5:00.41. Garcia took sixth in the 1,600-meter run at 5:23.44.
Alex Allen made a mark of 101’ 6” to take third place in the discus.
Joseph Lozano rounded out individual scoring for the Lions, with a 110-meter hurdle time of 20.62.
Taj Dawson, Quinton DeLosSantos, Jordan McKinney and Dylan Kennedy teamed for a fourth place finish in the 800-meter relay, with a final time of 1:38.44. The team traded Kennedy for Caleb Jennings for a fifth-place finish in the 400-meter relay at 47.38.
Dawson, Jaimes, Anthony Garza, and DeLosSantos took sixth in the 1,600-meter relay, logging a time of 3:53.15.
Xavia Thompson emerged as a leader for the Lady Lions, bringing in two individual medals, and participating on two medaling relay teams.
Thompson handily won the 100-meter run, with a 12.28 second time. She placed second in the long jump, with a distance of 15’ 11”.
Additionally, she teamed with Katelyn Murphy, Josette Medina and Madison Armstrong to take silver in the 400-meter relay, posting a time of 49.68 seconds. Laurel Eeds, Thompson, Murphy and Armstrong earned bronze in the 1,600-meter relay, with a final time of 4:15.95.
Bonnie Cole scored points for the Lady Lions in both hurdling events, posting a time of 17.14 for fourth place in the 100-meter hurdles, and a time of 50.62, also for fourth, in the 300.
Crystal Reyes earned individual points for the Lady Lions in the shot put, with a mark of 31’ 5”.
Murphy, Eeds, Medina and Madison Estrada finished sixth in the 800-meter relay, with a final time of 1:51.60, earning the Lady Lions a total of 52 team points.
In JV Girls’ competition, Amanda White offered up a silver-medal finish in the 100-meter run, with a time of 13.43 seconds.
Distance runner Charisma Magallanez took third in the 3,200 with a final time of 13:42.56. She was followed in by teammate Angelina Toomey, who finished fifth in 14:54.62. Magallanez also finished sixth in the 1,600 at 6:13.12.
Marissa Ramos took third in the pole vault, with a height of 7’ 6”, while teammate Olivia Ybarra took fourth at 6’ 6”.
Faith Herman earned points for a fourth-place finish in the discus, hitting a mark of 78’ 11”. She was followed in fifth place by teammate Camryn Martinez (77’ 10”).
Sarah French took fourth in the 800-meter run, logging a final time of 2:48.02. She placed sixth in the 400, at 1:11.37.
Jasmine Bell finished fifth in the 300-meter hurdles in 54.31 seconds, and took fifth in the long jump with a distance of 28’ 8”.
Yasmine Mackey placed sixth in the shot at a mark of 26’ 5”, and Mia Gonzales rounded out individual scoring with a 29.43 second run at the 200-meter.
Gonzales, Bell, Kimberly Lozano and Ramos teamed for a 4:49.55 time in the 1,600-meter relay, finishing sixth. Ashley Jaimes, Gonzales, Lozano and Ramos also placed sixth in the 800-meter relay, with a final time of 2:02.78.
“We’ve made some changes to the way we’re working out and structuring the team this year,” Lady Lion Head Coach Michelle Washington said.“Because of that, we’ve seen great improvements. This was a really, really tough meet, and the scores don’t reflect everything that we accomplished. We’ve been trying to get the 4×1 relay under 50 seconds all season – and the mile relay, we ran in the fastest time since I’ve been here.”
Washington said she was proud of her team, not only because of the number of athletes who are consistently competing, among themselves, each week for a spot on the varsity team, but also because of the change in their mindset.
“They used to be intimidated, when they had to go against teams like [Killeen or Canyon],” she said. “And now, they know that they’re there to just run the best race they can run.”
The Lions and Lady Lions are in preparation for District competition this week. The District Meet will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 11 – 12, at Dripping Springs High School.
-Editor’s Note: Last week, we incorrectly identified Madison Armstrong as an athlete on the JV Lady Lions track team. Armstrong is an athlete on the Varsity team. We apologize for our mistake.