Follett 1600-meter relay team (Jayden Watson, Julian Barton, Eugenio Chavez, Shayne Franks)
On the track: Follett’s 2022-23 athletic season ended in as spectacular a fashion as possible at the Class 1A state meet at the University of Texas at Austin last Saturday. In the final event of the year, Watson a senior, led off the quartet featuring sophomores Barton and Chavez and senior Franks which ran a time of 3 minutes, 29.36 seconds to win the state championship. The Follett foursome finished almost two seconds ahead of second-place Meridian for the gold medal. It was a season-best time for the group, not bad for a school making its first appearance at the state meet in the marquee relay event. It turned out to be a highly appropriate way for Follett’s distance team to end the day, considering that Barton began the day by winning a silver medal in the longest event of the meet, the 3200, running a 10:11.63, finishing 2.37 seonds behind gold medalist Austin Magness of Paint Rock. Barton is the only one of the quartet who didn’t play football last fall.
Coach Kyle Timmons: “Being a football guy (Timmons is also the head football coach), most football guys are also track guys as well and you always see talent looking forward. I definitely thought we could be running at state, but I would be lying to you if I knew how much they could improve and take the gold medal. During football all three of the guys who played just had motors that wouldn’t quit. You never had to take them off the field because of fatigue. At the very beginning of track season they consistently improved. Before district I really saw potential that we could be running at Austin. Julian took the second leg and a couple of guys hopped in front of him but he always saves some gas for the last 150. We were able to maintain it with Eugene and Shayne. That was the coolest trip to Austin I’d been in over the last 10 years. You usually just smolder down there, but it was cool figuratively and literally.”
Barton: “I thought we could win it from the very beginning. I think we all thought the same thing. I wanted to run my leg a little faster. We were trying for a 3:28. I felt very good (after the 3200). As soon as I showed up with my medal, the guys said they wanted gold. It kind of made it easier after I got a medal, but I definitely wanted another one. It was kind of easy because I’d been practicing all year for it. I want to make sure I go back next year too. It’s so crazy.”
Franks: “It was a probably a goal when district started. From that point on our time just got gradually better. We ran in regionals and as soon as we got there I knew we were going to state. I got a little excited as soon as I grabbed the sick and had a 15-meter start. I knew we would win state. It was very relieving. It was a dream of mine to go to state since I’d been an eighth grader. I never thought I could ever do it because I had a broken shoulder last year and couldn’t run track. It still feels like a dream. It’s unbelievable that we won state. I never thought we would do it.”