By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
Marshall High School, coming off back-to-back state 5A championships, is again sending the most Fort Bend ISD qualifiers to the state track and field championships in Austin this week.
Shamon Ehiemua qualified for the boys’ championship in the 200 meters by running a 21.17 in the region finals. Ehiemua is the reigning 200-meter champion. His winning time last year was 20.62 seconds. Ehiemua is a senior and is committed to Florida State University where he wants to study pre-med.
“Shamon is an awesome runner and an awesome student,” Marshall track coach Lloyd Banks said.
Tyrelle Valentine will represent Marshall in the 400 meters after running a 47.55 in the region finals. He is a senior and he is committed to Texas State University where he plans to study computer engineering. Dominick Houston-Shepard ran the 110-meter hurdles in 14.75 seconds to join his teammates in Austin.
Marshall also qualified its boys’ 4-by-400-meter relay team composed of Ehiemua, Cedarian Lynch, Myles Lafluer and Valentine. Their region time of 3:15.78 will give them the second seed.
The Marshall girls will send Payton Wells who ran the 400 meters in 57.29 seconds to qualify. She will be joined by the 4-by-200 meters relay team composed of Khacia Mitchell, Reina Ryan, Doneshia Johnson and Angel Johnson, and the 4-by-400-meter relay team of Doneshia Johnson, Reina Ryan, Angel Johnson and Wells.
Omonigho Oboh will represent Elkins in the girls’ 300-meter hurdles.
“Omo is a junior and is in just her second year on varsity. She is an outstanding young woman,” Elkins coach Ben Still said. “She is the number one-ranked hurdler in 5A and she ran a personal best of 44.67 seconds in the region preliminaries.”
Elkins also qualified discus thrower Robert Slaybaugh. His region toss was 161 feet, 5 inches.
“Robert is a great kid. He is respectful and works extremely hard,” Elkins coach Christopher Jones said. “He makes my job easy.”
In 6A, Hightower’s Gabe Oladipo, the top ranked discus thrower in the state, will be going for two gold medals as he qualified in both the discus and shot put.
“Gabe is an exceptional young man, and we are proud of his accomplishments this season. He is the type of athlete that you can build a program around, because of his maturity, leadership and competitiveness. It has been a pleasure to have an opportunity to coach such a remarkable young man,” Hightower coach Gerrick Green said. “In every meet he has competed in this season, he has set the discus record, so we are looking forward to him going to the state meet and setting a new state record.”
Laila Owens will represent Bush in the girls’ 400 meters. Her time of 54.74 seconds gives her the second seed. Bush also qualified its girls’ 4-by-400 meters relay team composed of Makaylah Halstead, Dinah Murphy, Morgan Cossey, and Owens.
Hawa Wague will represent Austin in the girls’ high jump. She jumped 5 feet, 8 inches to qualify.
“Hawa is making a back-to-back trip to state in the high jump, where she finished in second last year. Last year, she made it a goal to go back and win it all,” Austin coach Naomi McNeely said. “Selfless is the word to describe her. Hawa was battling a nagging strained glute muscle from the Texas Relays. Every time she jumped, it hurt. She hobbled through the district and area meets just focusing on advancing. At the regional meet two weeks ago. I have never seen her so focused. She missed her first attempt at 5-8 and had to make the next attempt to make it to state. She walked over to where I and our jumps coach, Todd Laney, were standing and asked if she had to make this next attempt. We both said yes! She walked back to her spot and cleared the next jump. We cannot express in words how proud we are of her. We are hoping for the storybook ending – prom is Saturday and we would like to see her wearing a gold medal there.”
“I just try to stay focused. I zone everything else out – I don’t hear the crowd at all,” Wague said. “When I begin my run, I am completely focused on the bar and getting over it.”
John Barber will represent Travis in the discus throw. Barber will be throwing for the Naval Academy next year. He qualified with a toss of 183 feet, 5 inches.
“John is a very hard worker and he has faced a lot of good competition this year. This will be his second year to qualify for state in the discus,” Travis coach Ron Johnson said. “John might be one of the smallest athletes competing in the discus this year. He has very good technique in his approach and spin when throwing the disc. This helps him to compete with athletes twice his size.”
“I decided to focus on the discus and shot put during my sophomore year. Since then my distances just keep improving,” Barber said. “When I am preparing to throw, I concentrate on my form and speed. I want to hit all of my technical points at the right speed and in the proper form.”
In 4A, Stafford qualified Kenneth Bodwin in the boys’ 300-meter hurdles.
“Kenneth is a very hard worker. He does play football but he is focused on track,” Stafford coach Sergio Hinojosa said.
Ryan Martin will compete in the boys’ 100-meter race.
“Ryan, who is only a sophomore, has improved greatly this year. Hinojosa said. “He has really worked on his technical form and he has spent a lot of time in the weight room.”
Stafford’s 4-by-100 meter girls’ relay team qualified. The members are Jayla Pratt, Cheyenne Hill Johnson, Faith Odigi, and Chaunta Thomas. Hill-Johnson also qualified in the girls’100-meter dash with a region time of 12.19 seconds, and in the 200-meter dash with a region time of 25.06 seconds.
The Stafford boys’ 4-by-400 meter relay team also qualified. The relay team members and two alternates are Jalen Curry, Jerrell Hunter, Sterling Riles, Jaylon Hill, Kosey Okolie and Bodwin.