TRACK AND FIELD: County athletes heading to Austin for 5A state meet
HUMBLE - The Class 5A state qualifiers representing Montgomery County come from all sides of the spectrum when it comes to experience.
There’s the volleyball star from Magnolia qualifying for state in the high jump.
There’s the distance runner from Porter who’s qualified to the cross country state meet in the past, but never the track and field state meet.
There’s the fellow Lady Spartan who jumped a hurdle for the first time in November and now will be jumping a bunch of them in Austin.
There was the prolific boys long jumper, also from Porter, who set the school record with one great leap.
And then there’s the decorated pole vaulter for New Caney, winning regional gold and returning to the state meet again.
Those were all stories that unfolded at the Region III-5A track and field meet on Saturday afternoon underneath a grey sky with windy conditions blowing to the north at Turner Stadium.
All first- and second-place winners advance to the University of Texas and the state meet May 11-13.
GLOVER LEAPS TO STATE
Already a star volleyball player as an underclassman at Magnolia High School, Alex Glover has an even newer claim to fame.
The Lady Bulldog high jumper made the state cut with a second-place finish at 5 feet, 8 inches. Annika Williams of College Station came in first place at 5 feet, 9 inches, while Ennis’ Katherine Stuckly was third at 5 feet, 7 inches.
“It was definitely nerve-racking going into it,” Glover said. “But nerves couldn’t get you too much because everyone was pushing you. This is hardest all three of us have been pushed the whole season. Going against the state champion (Williams) and the state runner-up (Stuckly) was nerve-racking, but I knew if I wanted to go to state [I needed to compete].”
Glover didn’t get the chance to get to this level a year ago as volleyball conflicted.
“I didn’t get to go to area meet because of volleyball,” Glover said. “I knew this year I wanted to come back and go to state. So I was preparing, and I was not letting the nerves gets to me too much.”
Glover, who competed alongside teammate Ally Myers (seventh place) all morning, is looking forward to the challenge of the state meet.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” Glover said. “I’m definitely excited, and I’m excited for my parents, too. I know this means so much and my coaches, too. I’m excited for everyone. I’m even excited for Annika Williams because she’s good competition.”
Willis junior Brianna McKean finished sixth, while Porter sophomore Taiyln Ward was eighth.
NEW TO HURDLES
Porter junior Savannah Pennese has only jumped hurdles since a little before the last time you sat down, ate turkey and stuffing with family and watched an afternoon of football.
“November we just started working on it a little bit,” Porter coach Tony Tobias said of Pannese beginning the event.
Pennese just gave a try while hanging around a teammate.
“One day I just decided to jump one,” Pennese said. “I’m in gymnastics, so I felt like having that background [helped].”
On Saturday, Pennese took gold in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.57.
“I feels really good,” Pennese said. “I just like making my coaches and my family proud and contributing for my team feels really good.”
Becoming competitive in hurdles was initially a dream of her father’s.
“My dad has been telling for years that I should run hurdles, and I could go state,” Pennese said. “I was just like, ‘That’s not going to happen.’”
Tobias felt that her gymnastics background helped.
“She’s a competitor,” Tobias said. “She does gymnastics, too, so she has the mind frame and doesn’t really get excited for the regular open meets. But when it came time for district, area and region meet, she comes out.”
Pannese also qualified for state with a silver in the triple jump on Friday at 39 feet, 0.25 inches, but scratched during her long jump final on Saturday.
GONZALEZ TAKES SILVER
Already a two-time state qualifier in cross country, Rebeca Gonzalez, a signee of Sam Houston State University, took the silver in the 800-meter run in 2:16.77. She was just shy of Maryn Demaio of Georgetown, who took gold at 2:16.24.
“Everything she does, she competes,” Tobias said. “She runs our practices and all that. To go out like that was very good for her.”
Gonzalez also competed in the 400-meter final, but placed eighth.
Teammate Laura Tonchina was fourth in the 3,200 run on Friday and fifth in the 1,600 on Saturday. Gracie Evers was 10th in the 1,600.
Overall, Tobias was proud of what his runners accomplished.
“We didn’t really think about state,” Tobias said. “Our goal after last year was to win the district meet and then go from there. We accomplished that and moved on to area, and we had a chance to win area. We started realizing, looking at the times, that we had a chance to get a couple out.”
CAMPBELL WINS REGION
New Caney junior Nastassja Campbell is making a return trip to the state meet after winning gold in the pole vault.
Campbell won by three inches over the second-place finisher at 12 feet, 3 inches. Campbell finished third at the state meet the last two years.
Kaelin Morkisch of New Caney finished sixth in the 100-yard dash.
WASHINGTON CLAIMS GOLD
Porter senior Kameron Washington set a school record in the long jump to win gold. Washington jumped 23 feet, 5.25 inches, about four inches better than second place.
It was a nice bounce back for Washington, who took ninth place in the triple jump on Friday.
OTHER BOYS RESULTS
Magnolia West’s Bryan Bonilla-Villagranna finished 10th in the 800-meter final. Caney Creek’s Omar Qunintana was 16th.
Porter’s Le Gari Daniels was eighth in the 400-meter dash.
Willis’ Jaime Vega took seventh place in the 1,600 meter run. Teammate Efrain Lira was in ninth.
In the 3,200 run on Friday, Lira finished in seventh place while, Willis teammate Carlos Barcenas was eighth, and Porter’s Deandre Fontenot was ninth.