Thrill of victory, agony of defeat, all in one day
The day could not have started on a sweeter note. Friday, May 9 was the first of two days of competition at the 2008 UIL Track and Field State Championship Meet held at UT’s Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. Two Lions and a Lady Lion made it to the state meet. The pressure was on and it was time to deliver.
Lockhart High School
senior and star Lion harrier Rory Tunningley did exactly what he was expected to do during his first race. Tunningley earned a gold medal competing against seven other outstanding athletes.
Tunningley was relaxed and steady during the first couple of laps of the 4A Boys’ 3,200-meter run. He seemed confident about his race from the beginning.
Midway through the race, he picked up his pace and then kicked it into high gear after the final lap bell.
Tunningley won gold easily in the 3,200-meter run. The race started promptly at 10 a.m. and he finished first with a time of 9:13.29.
Finishing second was Zachary Ornelas of Cedar Park Vista Ridge with a time of 9:15.86 and finishing third was James Welin of Katy Seven Lakes with a time of 9:20.84.
With a great win and the remainder of the day to rest up for the Boys’ 1,600-meter run at 9 p.m. Tunningley’s work was all but done. All he had to do was come back in the evening, take his second gold medal and be on his merry way, but it was not meant to be.
James Bonn, who had the misfortune of following Tunningley’s outstanding morning performance, competed in the Boys’ 800-meter run and failed to complete his race after being pushed off the track by two other runners for a DNF mark.
Finishing first for Dallas Highland Park with a time of 1:55.14 and 10 team points was Patrick Todd. Howard Shepard of Lancaster finished second with a time of 1:55.48 and Robin Torres of Weslaco East finished third with a time of 1:55.98.
After Bonn’s devastatingly heartfelt loss, it was up to Cece Smith to turn things around during her Girls’ 100-meter dash. Again, it was not meant to be. To her credit, Smith finished the race, crossing the finish line eighth out of eight runners with a time of 12.20
Victoria Jordan of Fort Worth Dunbar finished first breaking a state record set last year with a time of 11.16 and earning 10 points for her team.
Smith rested for an hour and 20 minutes before competing in the Girls’ 200-meter dash at 8:30 p.m. She improved slightly, finishing seventh out of eight runners with a time of 25.71.
Dominique Duncan of Houston Wheatley earned the gold with a time of 23.52. Finishing second with a time of 23.58 was Ashley Collier of Fort Worth Dunbar.
Half an hour later, Tunningley was back on the track, seemingly ready to go.
At a little after 9 p.m. the Boys’ 1,600-meter run was underway and the confidence and steady pace that Tunningley possessed through his morning race was non-existent.
The next few minutes were grueling for Tunningley as one misstep was followed by another until he lost his pace, his confidence and ultimately the race.
The gap between the pack of runners in the middle, the lead runner in the front and Tunningley at the end of the line grew wider and wider until Tunningley was entirely eclipsed by the lead runner and the pack.
Tunningley finished the last race of his high school career in eighth place with a time of 4:37.28
Zach Dawson of Big Spring finished first with a time of 4:10. 23 earning the coveted gold with Alex De La Garza of Mercedes close behind with a time of 4:12.28 for the silver.
Tunningley, Smith and Bonn should be commended. Just making an appearance at the state level is an incredible accomplishment.
To be eighth in the state of Texas is a good thing. In life, and almost everything it has to offer, one has to take the good with the bad and keep on keeping on.
Keep on running.