Canyon track and field teams take second at Region I-4A meet

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Canyon teammates Brooklyn Kinsey and Addyson Bristow hug after winning the mile relay during the Region I-4A track and field meet on Saturday in Lubbock. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
LUBBOCK – There probably wasn’t a less enjoyable day for track and field than what there was Saturday at PlainsCapital Park Lowrey Field, at least in terms of what Mother Nature provided.

However, Canyon seemed at home as usual in the Region I-4A meet, especially the girls’ team which will provide its usual contingent at the state meet in two weeks.

After winning two straight region team championships, Canyon had to settle for second this year with 89 points, 16 behind champion Krum. Still, the Lady Eagles did nothing to hurt their reputation.

Sophomore Addyson Bristow and junior Brooklyn Kinsey did most of the heavy lifting on a miserable day weatherwise, in which misty rain didn’t let up the whole day. They both qualified in three events, ending the day by comprising half of the winning 1600 meter relay team.

Canyon’s Addyson Bristow broke the regional record in the 800-meter race on Saturday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
If there was a star of the meet, it was Bristow, who won the 800 and 1600 before ending the day by anchoring the winning relay team. Her win in the 800 was the highlight, as she ran a 2:10.31 to shatter the previous meet record set last year by former Canyon teammate Abree Winfrey, competing at the University of Kansas.

“It went even better than I thought,” Bristow said. “I think it’s such a cool opportunity and I love Abree so much. I think she would be really proud of that since she taught me everything I know about the 800.”

Bristow’s performance shouldn’t have been a huge surprise to anyone who saw her as a freshman last year, when she pushed Winfrey in the 800. Her second-place finish in that event at the region meet earned her a ticket to the state meet.

Perhaps more surprising was what Bristow did in the 1600. Canyon teammate Hannah Stuart, a senior, was the defending region champion in the event, and she held a narrow lead over Bristow for the first 3 ½ laps.

However, Bristow turned it on over the last 100 meters, finishing with a 5:01.78 to beat Stuart by over two seconds and claim gold.

“Honestly, I was just trying to hold on for my life,” Bristow said. “At the end I kind of felt I just had more energy and I didn’t want to lose the race without going 100 percent.”

That was the last individual event of the meet, as the 1600 relays followed. Bristow had more than enough left to anchor the Canyon relay team to a victory in a time of 3:58.48 beating Krum by almost four seconds.

Canyon’s Brooklyn Kinsey won gold in the 300-meter hurdles race on Saturday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
Kinsey was the leadoff leg of the relay, and her good start was a huge factor as Thalia Solis, Sydnee Winfrey and Bristow followed her lead to victory.

Prior to that Kinsey was already guaranteed a trip to state in both hurdle events. She won the 300 hurdles in 45.59, edging Randall’s Tenera Gray.

It made up for a second-place finish in the 100 hurdles earlier, where she was also the No. 1 seed but ran a 15.92, just beating out Krum’s Caitlin Marquis for second and the berth at state.

“I’m very relieved that all the hard work we put in is paying off,” Kinsey said. “I was happy (with the 300 hurdles) and excited I made it to state, but I had a little bit of vengeance. I wanted a gold, so I had 20 minutes and it was time to warm up again and get back in that mindset for first place.”

Alex Niemiec of Canyon won the 800-meter run during the Region I-4A track and field meet on Saturday in Lubbock. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
On the boys’ side, Canyon’s reputation as a solid long-distance program continued, as the boys copied the girls by winning the 800 and 1600.

Senior Alex Niemiec won the 800 in 1:56.65. He appeared to cruise most of the way in earning his first ticket to state.

“It wasn’t the best weather out here today but it was still a really good time for that,” Niemiec said. “I just wanted to go out there and take it from the beginning and push and see what I could do. I wanted to at least get out in front and once I was there just settle in and make it a pretty comfortable for myself.”

It wasn’t the last medal Niemiec won on the day, but he had to settle for silver with his second one. That’s because junior teammate Ryan Fernandez defended his region title in the 1600, winning in 4:23.17, over a second ahead of second-place Niemiec.

“It just gave me confidence knowing I could do this again,” Fernandez said. “I knew I had to fight for it no matter what even though I won it last year. I’m pretty happy with that time. Today wasn’t ideal conditions so I can definitely go faster.”

That 1600 might best explain how the Canyon boys finished second in the team standings with 57 points. Canyon swept the medal stand in that event, as junior Lathan Lewter finished third behind teammates Fernandez and Niemiec.

Stephenville won the boys team title with 59 points, winning the 1600 relay in the final event to come from behind and win.

Imanol Marquez of Dumas won the 100-meter dash on Saturday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]

Speed Demons

If there was a local runner who defied the weather to reach the state meet, it was junior Imanol Marquez of Dumas in the boys 100.

Marquez was tied with Lubbock Estacado’s Cedric Ross for the fastest qualifying time entering the finals at 11.12 seconds. Despite the poor conditions, Marquez simply ripped through them, running a 10.79 to win the gold and make state.

“It’s the best I could have hoped for,” Marquez said. “Obviously it’s not the best conditions out here being rainy and cold. It’s not good for sprinting at all. It was the time I wanted and it was what I got.”

Marquez finished the day just as strong, anchoring the 1600 relay team including Andrew Flores, Ivan Nava and Dustin Cory to victory in a time of 3:23.74. That lifted Dumas to third place in the team standings with 52 points.

Going to Austin as a double qualifier is twice as nice for Marquez after last year.

“We’ll see how I do in two weeks down in Austin,” Marquez said. “Last year we made it in the 4-by-400 and I was on that team. I was hoping to go in the 100 last year but I didn’t get to. I’m still kind of in a little shock.”

Collin Miller of Randall was a part of the sprint relay that won the gold medal on Saturday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]

It’s Miller time

The remaining area winner Saturday was the Randall boys 400 relay team. With three identical surnames, Collin Miller, Conner Miller and Kaiden Miller teamed with outlier Phoenix Sherwood to win in 42.59.

While all three ran strong legs, it was Kaiden Miller’s burst in the anchor leg which lifted Randall to gold and a state berth just ahead of Springtown.

Friday’s events

With certain events moved to Friday, some local performers took advantage of better conditions to punch their tickets to the state meet, as seven Panhandle athletes earned automatic spots at the state meet with top two finishes.

Canyon ISD runners dominated in the meet’s longest event, the 3200, as CISD schools swept the top two spots in both the boys and girls races. A pair of Canyon juniors swept the boys race, as  Fernandez won in a time of 9:41.23, edging out teammate Lewter in 9:41.94.

For the girls, Stuart showed why she’s the defending state champion and two-time defending region champion, rolling to victory in 10:59.24. Randall freshman Brooke French was second in 11:28.16.

Three other area athletes advanced to state with second place finishes. Piper Patterson of West Plains made history as the first girl to qualify for the state meet in a track and field event, as she jumped 36-4 in the triple jump to finish second.

In the boys long jump, Randall’s Collin Miller was second with a qualifying leap of 22-0. Pampa sophomore Parker Webb qualified in the discus with a throw of 151-3. He actually tied for second best throw with Brownwood’s Sam Kallman, but Webb advanced by virtue of having the better second-best throw.

The UIL Class 4A state track and field meet is set for Thursday, May 3, at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

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