by Hale Hughes
AUSTIN—The UIL hosted its annual State Track and Field Meet at Mike Myers Stadium in Austin last week. The Texas state meet is regarded as one of the premier events in the nation with a large portion of national records set in Texas, with California being the other major state contributing to national high school records. It's an event for the best of the best, the elite. Woodville sent three athletes and three athletes brought home medals. Tyler County was represented by three individuals: Sophomore Jordyn Beaty, who competed in the shot put and discus throw, Senior Tony Land who competed in both 110m and 300m hurdles and Junior Carrington Marendes, who competed in the seated shot put, the 100m and 400m wheelchair events.
Beaty got things started on Friday as she competed first for the Woodville athletes as she took to the discus event and finished with a fifth-place finish with a throw of 120' 07". Beaty would follow that effort up with a trip to the shot-put area. Beaty took to the circle and seemed to be a bit more focused and had a firm hold on second place for much of the event with a 37 and one-half inch throw. With the fifth round of throws, another competitor who had been throwing in the 36' range for the competition managed a throw just over 39 foot to overtake second and Beaty followed that with a toss of 38' 11" to secure a bronze medal in her first trip to Austin. One can only assume great things and repeat trips to Austin will happen for this standout sophomore.
Tony Land was up next for the Eagles as he drew lane six for the 3A 110m hurdles. The field was off to a quick start as the gun went off and after the third hurdle the leaders started to separate themselves with Land leading the hurdlers early. Land continued that trend and with three hurdles left it was apparent that the race was his to lose. Land didn't let the pressure get to him and he glided over the final hurdles to grab the first gold for Woodville for the weekend in a time of 14.19. Celebrations were short as Land quickly escaped the sun and retreated to the shade to recover for the upcoming 300's. Land was poised as he took to his blocks and was simply elegant as he glided over the first hurdle and gained a quick lead over the field. It was evident that Land was the class of the field as they rounded the corner for the homestretch and Land's smooth skillset for hurdling combined with his sheer foot speed was too much as Land swept the 3A hurdle events for the Eagles. Land's winning time was 38.87.
Carrington Marendes was slated for his competitions on Saturday and started his events with the shot put. A solid effort on his fifth attempt resulted in a throw of 22' 09" and secured the bronze for Marendes, ensuring that every athlete from Woodville would come home with a medal. Not satisfied, Marendes followed up with a tremendous effort in the 100m, narrowly missing out on gold by a mere six tenths of a second. Marendes seemed to use that second-place finish to fuel his fire for his final event, the 400m. Marendes had a good start and was matched wheel to wheel with the same foe he faced in the 100m as they were the class of the field. A strong headwind down the backstretch tested the competitors, but it was Marendes with his sheer brawn that saw him grab an early edge in the final corner. It was close down the back stretch, but Marendes held his lead and grabbed gold in the 400m with a time of 59.44 to complete the cycle, garnering a first, second and third place medal.
Woodville brought home six total medals, three golds, a silver and two bronze which is an epic feat for any school. "It's a huge accomplishment," said Principal Morgan Wright. "These other kids see what is possible from right here and know that these young athletes have put in the work to receive the kind of success they are seeing." Athletic director Ty Robinson also praised the work ethic of the athletes. He said, "These kids have worked really hard for this and as a coaching staff, we have told our athletes repeatedly that we can be the best in state and win championships. Some kids hear that and think maybe it's just coach speak, but then a lot of kids see someone like Tony not just win but sweep the hurdle events at state and they see that kind of success is real and it can happen. It raises their expectation to what our expectation is for them as coaches."