Lipan quartet historic

Known much more for its statewide basketball success than its track program, things are a little flip-flopped this year in Lipan.

Neither basketball team made it to Austin, though the Lady Indians were ranked among the state’s elite all season.

And now FOUR members of the track team are preparing to compete in the Class A Division II State Track and Field Meet Friday and Saturday at the University of Texas in Austin.

Unofficial records indicate that in the history of the school, only three athletes previously had qualified for state, the most recent being Jake Green in 2010.

Following their regional qualifying, Lipan coach Ray Michou called it the greatest day ever for Lipan track. Freshmen Shelby Bontke (300 hurdles), Catherine Thormann (1600), and Lanie Roberts (800) represent the Lady Indians, while junior Jorge Hernandez (long jump) is there from among the boys.

“It has been rare to have state track qualifiers here in Lipan, so to have four this year is big,” said Michou.

Perhaps the most amazing part of their qualifying is Lipan does not have a track. Most practices are held next to the gym on a grassy area.

“We do some road running, and periodically we make a rare trip to a neighboring track to work on specific things,” said Michou.

Lipan also qualified 11 for regionals. Bontke, in fact, competed in five events.

For the first time this season, Class A was divided into Division I and II for track, as it has been in basketball for years. Michou said that helped his school and others.

“It has allowed our kids to compete on a much more level playing field,” he said.

Michou said the lack of a track creates more of a challenge for events such as high jump, long jump, triple jump and hurdles. Two of the state meet qualifiers for Lipan fall into these categories.

“Not having a track makes it a bit difficult to train for some of my events,” said Bontke.

Roberts said, “it’s never kept me from training.”

And Thormann added, “I run around town and school.”

Hernandez is seeded eighth in his event, while Bontke, Thormann and Roberts are each seeded ninth. But Michou said they aren’t worried about anything except going down to Austin and doing their best.

“Each of the kids is just beginning to realize his/her potential ability,” Michou said. “And while our times might not indicate that we are expected to win a gold medal, we are all thinking, ‘Why not us?’”

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