As their name indicates, the Hood County Flyers track team has risen to big heights in their inaugural season.
From their opening meet in Comanche, when they won 40 medals (22 gold) through the recent Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Region IV Meet, the team has consistently performed like a veteran club.
This weekend, 10 members of the team will be going for the highest honor of the season when they compete in the TAAF Games of Texas in Corpus Christi.
“Every week I’m tracking my kids’ personal records, and each week it just gets better and better,” said coach and founder Wade Beard.
Case in point, the Flyers sent 20 competitors to regionals, and half advanced to state.
“That is quite impressive,” said Wade. “It’s a testament to how hard these kids have worked, and not just those going to Corpus, the whole team has been working steadily to see improvements each time they get on the track.”
J.J. Lee, competing in the 10-Under Boys division, led all Flyers by qualifying in three events at regionals. He won the high jump, clearing 4 feet, was fifth in the 800-meter run and sixth in the 1600.
Three other Flyers brought home medals from regionals. Kyle Vahlenkamp, in the 10-Under Boys, took second in the high jump. Kasyn Burdette, in 8-Under Boys, also took second in high jump.
Miranda Metger took the bronze medal in the 3200 in the 18-Under Girls division.
The event in which the Flyers stand out the most is the high jump. Five athletes qualified in that event.
“We are probably the high-jumpingest team you’ve ever seen,” Beard said with a grin.
In all, Flyers qualifiers will be competing in 14 events. Along with Lee, Rachel Perriello (16-Under Girls, 800, 400) and Metger (1600, 3200) will be competing in multiple events.
Following that opening success in Comanche, the Flyers continued to impress with showings at Mineral Wells and Little Elm. They brought home 26 medals (14 gold from Mineral Wells and 21 (nine gold) from Little Elm.
Beard said the Little Elm meet was close to what they would see at regionals, so had an indication they’d hold their own at The Colony.
“We turned a few heads this season,” he said. “And I believe we’re going to go down to Corpus and do it again.”
FLYERS WILL HAVE COMPANY
Along with the Flyers, five other area athletes will be competing in Corpus Christi, three in the pole vault and two more high jumpers.
Tolar will be well-represented in the pole vault as three members of the Venom Track Club qualified for the TAAF Games. They are led by Rodie Brister, who won the 16-Under Boys at regionals with a 12-foot vault, while Reagan Mabery (18-Under Girls) took third, as did Warren Miller (14-Under Boys).
Brister, a junior, and Mabery, a senior, each advanced to the University Interscholastic League 2A State Tournament in May. In fact, it was Mabery’s third consecutive year to reach Austin in the event.
Granbury high jumpers Jettin Murphy and Sarah Sledge qualified in the 16-Under girls category. Murphy captured a silver medal, and Sledge was fourth.
Murphy also qualified for the TAAF Games of Texas last summer, part of a very busy couple of weeks. She immediately went from Corpus Christi to Austin for the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics.
She is only competing in the TAAF games this year.
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