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5 Burnet track and field athletes advance to the state meet

CAPTION: Burnet junior pole vaulters Brayden Hill (center) and Brady Rygaard (right) are on the Class 4A Region III podium after being awarded the gold and bronze medals. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke

The Burnet High School track-and-field teams had five members advance to the Class 4A state meet.

That’s because these athletes finished in the top two of their events at the Class 4A Region III meet at Bullard High School April 28-29 or their bronze-medal finish was the best of the four third-place finishers in the state.

The Bulldogs finished fourth in the team standings, one point away from bringing home a plaque.

“We take six boys to regionals and six boys end up beating 47 teams,” head coach Ben Speer said. “How cool is that? It says a lot about them. They stayed the whole weekend. I’ve never had team members stay when they weren’t competing.”

The state qualifiers are middle-distance runners Victor Aviles, Hudson Bennett and Asah Roy and junior pole vaulters Brayden Hill and Brady Rygaard. Rygaard finished third by clearing 14 feet and 6 inches and earned the wild card to compete at the state meet, Speer said.

“There was a kid in Region IV (Comal Canyon Lake senior Coby Mickey) that tied in jumps,” Speer said. “Brady made his jumps count. He (set a new personal record) as well. I was hoping we could get two out. That’s a realistic goal for us. We were ecstatic for those two.”

But no vaulter outperformed Hill, who set a new program record by clearing 15 feet, which broke David Lindley’s old program record of 14-6. That didn’t surprise Speer, he said.

“I thought coming in, there was one kid who cleared 14 feet prior,” the coach said. “We get to 14 feet and have eight competitors still in. Our guys were doing well. I think I was surprised everyone did so well. Coming in, no one cleared those heights. Brayden has to get it on his last attempt. He (set a new personal record) by a foot. He cleared 14-9 on his first attempt and cleared 15 feet. He looked good going over the bar. It’s a fun day when you have two of the top nine vaulters jumping in Kelly green.”

Speer noted Hill has been vaulting 16 feet during practices.

“We bought them new poles,” he said. “They were getting used to where they needed their hands to be. It’s pretty cool they were able to do that. This will open the flood gates for both of those juniors.”

The Bulldogs continue to set the pace when it comes to the middle-distance races.

As he was crossing the finish line of the 800 meters, sophomore Aviles, who set a new school record by finishing in 1 minute and 58.47 seconds, couldn’t contain his emotions as he realized he would be running at the state meet.

“He stayed up front,” Speer said. “If he’s in a good spot, no one can out-kick him. Runners catch him and he’s like ‘nope. Not today.’ He extends his lead. He hits the gas. It’s unbelievable to see him (break the school record). I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s so thankful to be in and going to Austin.”

The coach noted Aviles got a short rest before he joined senior Bennett at the starting line for the 1,600 meters. Aviles finished fifth.

“We knew the one mile was going to be tough,” Speer said. “He wasn’t himself and didn’t have the recovery.”

Bennett won the 1,600 meters and finished third in the 3,200 meters. But the two-time defending 3,200-meter state champion ran the fastest time among the four bronze medalists at regional meets and earned the wild card to compete at the state meet in both events.

“He does a great job of staying positive,” the coach said. “I’ve watched him accept his new role (of mentoring the underclassmen). Looks like he won (the wild card) by three seconds. We were tickled to death. It was fun to see him go out and win the mile. It was real joyful. Honestly, I see the appreciation and the raw emotion. Going back to Austin, he’ll end (his high school career) there.”

Aviles also competed in the 3,200 meters where he finished sixth.

“He’d been sick with a sinus infection, he was not really himself,” Speer said. “He didn’t feel well (April 28). It showed in the two mile. He still ran a pretty good time. That was disappointing for him.”

Aviles wasn’t the only runner to set a new program record. Roy rewrote the record books in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters for the Lady Dawgs where she earned a gold and a bronze medal.

Her time of 5:16.99 in the mile destroyed the old record of 5:25.90 set by Julie Frank in 1985.

“She ran a very smart race and pulled off an amazing kick at the end,” Lady Dawgs head coach Crystal Shipley said. “(Distance) coach Kristi Jones and Asah have a strict workout schedule and get to the track at 6 a.m. almost every day. Coach Jones has done big things with our distance crew, and it’s paying off. More and more kids are getting better in that category because they love working for Coach Jones.”

Roy’s time of 11:30.81 in the 3,200 meters crushed the school record by 14 seconds, which was set by Abigail Bullock in 2014. Roy finished third in the race.

“Asah ran her heart out, beat her (personal record) by 15 seconds, and earned a third-place regional medal,” Shipley said. “She was bummed to find out that her time didn’t earn the wild card to (the) state (meet), but it sure fueled her for the 1,600.”

Shipley was equally proud of her other two athletes, who were also regional qualifiers. In addition to Roy competing, she noted that freshman Grace Cullison and junior Kyleigh Mott made the most of their opportunities to shine.

Cullison had a mark of 32 feet in the triple jump, which was her best of the season to finish 15th.

“She has improved every week and is determined to get better in all she does,” Shipley said. “Grace works so hard in practice and on her own. Coach (Bryan) Wood and Coach Couch have been great with her and helped with her confidence and improvement. She already has her eyes and goals set on next year. She will be back as a runner and jumper. This young lady has a very bright future.”

Mott split her time between the discus throwing pit and the softball diamond. Shipley noted Mott just missed advancing to the area meet as a freshman, the regional meet as a sophomore, and learned plenty as a first-time regional qualifier this season.

“She didn’t have her best throws and was disappointed, but she battled,” the coach said. “Her best throw on Friday was 94-10. Her (personal record) is at 101-7. Each year, she commits to getting to the next level, and she’s done it. We know her senior year will be the best yet. Kyleigh played in the softball playoff game against Gatesville (the 1-0 win April 27), got to Bullard to throw discus, and went right back to softball for game two. She is a dedicated and amazing person.”

Two Marble Falls athletes also had their seasons end at the regional meet.

Kylie Roberts was sixth in the discus with a mark of 105-2, and Zach Woody missed the finals of the 400 meters by three one-hundredths of a second.

“Even though she will never admit it, Kylie threw well for only being a sophomore and making it to regionals,” head coach Austin Silva said. “It was a great experience for her in terms of her growth, and there’s no doubt she will use this sixth-place finish to motivate her next year. Having said that, we are incredibly proud of her and her accomplishments this year.”

Silva noted going into the meet, Woody’s time was among the slowest.

“So technically, he was sitting in 16th place,” he said. “Finishing ninth overall just speaks to his competitive spirit and grit. After his district exit last year, his goal was to make it to the postseason in the open 400. He started his training earlier this year, committed to it, pushed himself at every practice, and made it happen. We are so proud of Zach for accomplishing the goal he set for himself, and we are going to miss him and his incredible work ethic immensely.”

The Class 4A state meet is Thursday, April 11, at Mike Myers Stadium on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

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Class 4A Region III meet at Bullard High School

April 29-30

BOYS (top two advance to the state meet)

200 — 13, Grant Jones (Burnet), 23.34; 400 — 9, Zach Woody (Marble Falls), 50.96; 800 — 1, Victor Aviles Salgado (Burnet), 1:56.49; 1,600 — 1, Hudson Bennett (Burnet), 4:23.65, 5, Aviles Salgado, 4:32.60; 3,200 — 3, Bennett, 9:25.80, 6, Aviles Salgado, 9:54.92, 12, Isaias Zarate, 10:11.40; pole vault — 1, Brayden Hill (Burnet), 15-0, 3, Brady Rygaard (Burnet), 14-6; long jump — 11, Jones, 20-0.75

GIRLS (top two advance to the state meet)

1,600 — 2, Asah Roy (Burnet), 5:16.99; 3,200 — 3, Roy, 11:30.81; discus — 6, Kylie Roberts (Marble Falls), 105-2, 12, Kyleigh Mott (Burnet), 94-10; triple jump — 15, Grace Cullison, 32-0

CAPTION: Burnet freshman Asah Roy is all smiles as she holds her gold medal that symbolizes her victory in the 1,600 meters at the Class 4A Region III meet. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

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