For many high school track and field teams, a podium finish – of any kind – is the goal. But for the Marshall boys team, last year’s third-place finish at the Class 5A state meet stung after having won four of the previous five crowns.
The Buffalos knew a different mindset was required to get back to the top and didn’t look back – and last weekend, their season culminated with another state title. The Marshall boys won their fifth team state championship in the last seven years by amassing 64 total points at the meet, which easily outstripped second-place Lancaster (42 points).
“I think they needed last year to happen. A lot of times, those painful situations can make you a lot stronger,” Marshall boys coach Lloyd Banks said. “Sometimes you have kids who come through that don’t always get fueled by a little pain. … They brought that back this year, and we were ready to rock and roll.”
Not to be outdone, Marshall’s Lady Buffalos’ also took home the team title for the second year in a row. Their 75 points comfortably gave them the title over second-place Mansfield Timberview’s 61 points.
“We knew we had all these teams that were coming for us and wanted to beat us for a championship,” Marshall girls coach Shahira Ehiemua said. “But all we could control is what we do – the effort, work, and dedication. Having that mindset throughout the season, that’s what makes this group of girls special.”
The Marshall boys 800-meter relay team of Michael Patterson, Gerard Holmes, Jonathan Howard and Kameron Williams ran the final in 1:23.60 to win the title in that event, while their 1,600 relay team of Mason Roseboro, Holmes, Williams and Chris Brinkley also took the crown with a time of 3:14.60.
Individually, Brinkley and Arveyon Davis shined in the hurdles. Davis was third in the 110 hurdles (13.78), while Brinkley finished fourth with a time of 14.09 seconds. Meanwhile, Brinkley was third in the 300 hurdles after running a 36.74 in the final, and Davis finished fourth in 37.21 seconds. Howard was eighth in the 200 after running a 21.46 in the final, and Jy’Adrian Wortham finished seventh in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet, 6 inches.
And ultimately, Banks said, what showed through last weekend was more than the team’s talent, which was self-evident. He said it was about resilience and toughness, which his team showed in spades.
“When you’re performing under those lights, nobody cares about your talent,” he said. “I always tell my kids I’m more concerned with their toughness than their talent. These kids are as tough as they come. They’re a resilient bunch, and they went out and got it done.”
Tairah Johnson led the way individually for the Marshall girls by winning her second straight state title in the 100 hurdles with a time of 13.62 seconds, while Desirae Roberts was second in the 300 hurdles after running a 42.73 in the final. Genesis Griffin (19-4.75) and Johnson (19-2) were second and fourth, respectively, in the long jump, while Cesley Williams finished sixth in the 400 after running 56.66.
The Lady Buffalos’ 400 relay of Johnson, Williams, Brittney Green, and Janai Williams was the state runner-up with a final time of 46.26, as was their 800 relay of Green, Johnson, Tyeler Moore, and Williams after running a 1:38.05 in the final. Marshall’s 1,600 relay of Williams, Roberts, Brianna Brinkley, and Green finished third with a final time of 3:48.23.
Johnson, Green, Roberts, Janai Williams, and Cesley Williams are all outgoing seniors, so the Lady Buffalos may have to reload. But Ehiemua said the quintet has left their imprint on the Marshall program, leaving a legacy all their own that will be passed on to the returners.
“These girls will forever go down in history – as being the first five to ever win a championship, and then (the ones) to double back and do it again,” Ehiemua said. “…They’re making a name for themselves, and they’ve done something that nobody had ever done. Nobody can take that away from them.”
Best of the rest
Saturday was a crowning moment for Travis High School senior Damilare Olukosi, who is bringing some hardware back to Richmond as the state’s 6A triple jump champion. Olukosi, who was also the district, area, and regional champion in the event, had a best jump of 51-8.75 in the finals to complete a postseason sweep. Olukosi’s jump in the final was the single-longest jump in the event in the state and nation this season, according to AthleticNet, and also set a new Class 6A state record.
The Bush girls’ 400 relay team of Raylen Russell, Rachel Joseph, Christina Pleasant, and Amariya Hardeman capped a record-setting season with a state title after running the final in 45.33 seconds. Their 800 relay of Russell, Pleasant, Demeri Duplechain, and Hardeman ran to a fifth-place finish with a time of 1:37.39. Joseph, an Iowa State signee, also finished third in the 400 thanks to a run of 53.42 seconds.
Ridge Point’s Karson Gordon, coming back to state for the second consecutive season, finished fourth in the triple jump with a best leap of 49-3.75.
Shane Gardner of George Ranch made it on the podium for the boys’ 110 hurdles, finishing third with a time of 13.73 seconds.
Elkins’ Sydney Freeman was fourth in the girls’ discus throw, tossing a best of 147-5 in the final, while Mfoniso Andrew finished fourth in the girls’ 400 in running a 54.46. The Lady Knights’ 1600 relay of Faith Holman, Taylor Jackson, Emillia Gill, and Andrew was fourth thanks to a final run of 3:47.56.
Rosenberg Terry’s Alexia Washington finished fifth in the Class 5A girls’ triple jump with a best distance of 40-5.75. Terry’s boys 800 relay of Trumaine Mitchell, Alphonso Brown, Wilson Lightfoot, and Devin Wilkerson ran to a fourth-place finish after finishing in 1:25.55.
Stafford’s Quardale Pratt finished as the state runner-up in the boys’ shot put with a best throw of 55-8.75, while the Spartans’ Andrew Huff finished second in the discus throw with a best toss of 171-11 in the final. Amber Butler finished ninth in the girls’ 100 with a final time of 12.53 seconds, and the Lady Spartans’ 400 relay team finished ninth with a 49.80 seconds in the final.
Needville’s Matthew Norwood finished ninth in the boys’ high jump by clearing a height of 5 feet, 10 inches, and Jesus Panchito was sixth in the boys’ 800 with a final time of 2:01.94. Freshman Jessalyn Gregory finished ninth in the girls’ 100 hurdles with a time of 15.54 seconds.
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