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‘Epic’ mile relay win means the Flames repeated as the state champs

Just as Faith Academy of Marble Falls head track and field coach Steve McCannon predicted, the Class 2A boys state championship came down to the 4×400-meter relay, the meet’s last race May 7.

But what McCannon couldn’t have predicted was having to make a change because of one of his relay runners was unable to go.

“Luke Ehrig went down in the 100,” he said.

So the coach went to sophomore Cross Sanchez and told him the situation.

“We knew we had to beat Dallas First Baptist Academy,” McCannon said. “We have three seniors on that relay. I told him, ‘Hold your own and let those seniors decide how this thing plays out.'”

Case Coleman ran a great first leg, McCannon said, before handing off to Sanchez, who did enough to give Brendan Thames a chance to move up toward the front of the race. So by the time Thames passed the baton to Cody Owens, he had a lead and ended up winning the race by about three seconds.

“That made it even sweeter,” McCannon said of the relay. “It was an epic, epic finish for sure. Everything we worked on has paid off. We had a plan and stuck to the plan. We kept it together and kept the faith.”

The Flames won the state title with 100 points to First Baptist’s 98. But the coach pointed out a squad doesn’t win a team title without other athletes contributing, even with the smallest point totals. That included freshman Jett Murphy’s sixth place finish in the 3,200 meters that gave Faith three points or freshman William Eppler’s seventh-place finish in the 800 meters for two points. Even the two points in the 4×200-meter relay proved to be invaluable, McCannon said.

Then there were expected finishes such as Coleman earning silver in the pole vault and triple jump where his second best jump propelled him to second over the bronze medalist in the triple jump.

“With the way we ran it, the team mentality paid off,” McCannon said. “We put all of our chips in the middle. It was a team effort. TAPPS has gotten super competitive over the years. A lot of these kids are going (to play) at the next level. We’re so proud of our seniors for everything they’ve accomplished. (The state meet) showed the resiliency of the seniors. And the program we have is a team.”

In the girls division, freshman Faith Murphy won triple gold in the 400, 800 and 1,600 meters. She set state records in the 400 and 800 meters.

“We’re still accomplishing things,” McCannon said. “On the girls side, there are no seniors. We’re in a great spot. We want to try to build confidence for next year.”

McCannon noted none of the accomplishments would be possible without assistant coaches Mary Nunnally, Jordan French and Cedric Griffin. They along with staff members and parents helped organize and run three track meets, including the District 3-2A meet where both Faith teams won district titles.

“It says a lot about Faith Academy and the atmosphere we’re trying to provide for our kids,” McCannon said. “I’m happy the kids have that environment.”

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Waco Midway’s Panther Stadium

May 6-7


400 – 1, Cody Owens, 51.15, 3, Case Coleman, 51.73; 800 – 7, William Eppler, 2:12.80; 1,600 – 7, William Eppler, 5:13.27; 3,200 – 6, Jett Murphy, 11:31.58; 300 hurdles – 3, Brendan Thames, 42.19;  4×100 – 1, Faith Academy (Brendan Thames, Luke Ehrig, Cody Owens, Case Coleman, Noah Frederick, Brock Davis, Cross Sanchez), 43.49 (new state record); 4×200 – 8, Faith Academy (Will Lewis, Brock Davis, Cross Sanchez, Elijah Steele, Nathan Tarver, William Eppler), 1:38.42; 4×400 – 1, Faith Academy, 3:32.97; high jump – 3, Brock Davis, 5-10; triple jump – 2, Case Coleman, 42-7, 4, Brendan Thames, 42-2.25; pole vault – 2, Case Coleman, 11-0


1, Faith Murphy, 57.29 (new state record); 800 – 1, Faith Murphy, 2:16 (new state record); 1,600 – 1, Faith Murphy, 5:22.64; 4×100 – 8, Faith Academy (Hannidy Shipley, Kara Kwan, Anabelle Merlick, Charlee Ehrig, Carly Owens, Kaitlyn Wood), 54.78; 4×200 – 8, Faith Academy (Anabelle Merlick, Kara Kwan, Carly Owens, Charlee Ehrig, Susannah Slyker, Kaitlyn Wood, Hannidy Shipley), 1:58.74; 4×400 – 8, Faith Academy (Anabelle Merlic, Elleson Lehmberg, Carly Owens, Claire Poage, Audrianna Poage, Kaitlyn Wood), 4:42.21; pole vault – 3, Claire Poage, 8-0, 5, Kaitlyn Wood, 7-6; shot put – 5, Morgan Weems, 32-4.25

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