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Shary Relay Teams Go To State
It has been a special year for Sharyland Track and Field. In his two years as the Head Track and Field Coach, Tom Lee has led the Rattler boys to back-to-back district championships and 16 straight meets of finishing first in between. The team culminated the special year with a District 30-5A championship that saw the team set the district meet record for total points with 210.
Speaking of his team as a whole, Lee says this year's kids just took over from the year before. “[They have] a mentality that they don't want to lose a race or a meet.”
Of Lee's runners, the cream of the crop has turned out to be the 4x100 and the 4x200 relay team. The two teams will be representing their school and the Valley at the state meet, today and tomorrow. Making the trip from the 400 meter squad are Edmundo Crespo, CJ Cavazos, Daniel Cardenas and Nick Flores with Christian Garcia and Hunter Guzman as the alternates. The 800 meter team is similar, except Francisco Campos runs in the place of Flores. Justin Saenz and Kenneth Normand fill in as the alternates.
Though he only competes in the 4x100 relay, Flores is looked on as a team leader who directs the team in their workouts and helps them to stay focused. The senior understands the importance of being unified with his fellow relay runners.
“You have to be in sync. You have to be one with the team.”
The road to Austin has been somewhat surprising for the two teams. Coach Lee knew the boys had the chance to be successful, but because many of them ran on the junior varsity squad last year, just how good they would be was not known.
Flores concurs, saying, “Our goal [initially] was to better ourselves and our time. Winning regionals was a great surprise [but] we knew we had the ability to do it.”
The 400 team that Flores runs in actually came in second at district before rebounding and taking first at regionals in San Antonio. The team ran a 43.39 time at district, but then improved to 42.32. The 800 squad improved as well, taking the district best 1:29.14 and shaving a little off to score 1:28.54 at regionals.
Relays are a unique event in track and field because it is done as a team. As a result, the athletes not only have to do their best individual times but have the skill and the unity to be one with each other when they hand the baton off.
“It comes down to the hand-offs and trusting each other,” says Lee.
A good hand-off accompanied by a top personal time is what Lee is looking for from his guys this weekend. As underdogs, those two achievements will be critical for Flores and his teammates to qualify in the top three. A smooth hand-off can prove to be the difference when a slower team is looking to catch up with a faster team. As teams from Dallas and San Antonio have proven to have such elite speed, the intangibles will play a difference.
Judging by the scores from regionals, the Rattlers are not that far off from the top teams, especially in the 400. The team with the best time coming into the finals is Mansfield Timberview with a 41.36 time. At 42.32, Shary is not far behind to be right there at the end.
“I think we can compete with what is up there,” says Lee. “We have to run a very clean race with great hand-offs. We only get one shot this time and I think we will be a little fresher.”
Whether the boys finish at the top or at the bottom, Lee has pointed out to them they are already part of something special.
“We are running against the best teams in the state of Texas. I told the kids we are in the final eight and there are a lot of schools that are turning [their gear] in and not getting the opportunity we are. I want the kids to be loose and go up there and have fun. We want to represent the Valley.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.