BY COACH LUIS GARCIA
Track girls get huge homecoming welcome
The Van Horn Lady Eagles entered the state meet with five regional champion events and a regional championship title in Levelland. By the end of state meet in Austin, the Lady Eagles had won the Class A Division I State Championship.
The Lady Eagles first event was the 4×100 m. Relay. The team of Renee Rivera, Leslie Gonzales, Mireya Quintana and Karina Ramirez hit three perfect handoffs to stun Region II powerhouse Italy and Region III champs San Augustine. Karina had to hold off a charge from the stateâ€™s top sprinter Kortnei Johnson from Italy. The Lady Eagles smashed the school record by running a 48.85 and earning the schoolâ€™s first ever relay state title. This gave the Lady Eagles 20 points for the team standings. The relay team went undefeated the entire season (10-0).
The next event was the 800m, with regional champion Abril Padilla running her personal best of 2:24.65. She ran an awesome race but she was nipped at the line by Krystin Lackey of Anson for the bronze medal. April added four more points to the Lady Eaglesâ€™ team total of 24 points.
The Lady Eagles third event of the evening was the 800m. relay. The same quartet of speedsters returned to the track confident and relaxed by having already won the 400m. relay. The Lady Eagles wowed the crowd once more by turning in the best time of the year (1:44.46). The Lady Eagles stunned the East Texas teams of San Augustine (2nd) and Hubbard (3rd). This gave the West Texans 20 more points for a total of 44 points to lead the meet at this point. This relay team also remained undefeated the entire season (10-0).
The fourth event was Karina Ramirez in the 200m. The pack of runners had to face Texas leading sprinter from Italy, Kortnei Johnson. It was a battle for second place and Karina finished in 6th place, adding one more point to the team total of 45.
Abril Padilla returned to the track two hours later in the 1600m. In the last race of the evening for the Lady Eagles, April didnâ€™t want to leave Mike A. Myers Stadium without a medal. She didnâ€™t disappoint the Eagle fans by placing 3rd and winning the bronze medal. She ran a personal best of 5:24.3. Aprilâ€™s six points sealed the team championship for the Lady Eagles finishing the day with a total of 51 points ahead of second place Albany, San Augustine, and Italy with 36 points.
This is the Lady Eagles first girlsâ€™ team championship and the third for Van Horn. This is only the second West Texas girlsâ€™ team to win a state championship in track. The other is Crane in 2004.
Best moments from the state meet:
Leslie after 800m. Relay at the podium: “I told Maze, weâ€™re on top of the world right now! Hearing the roar of the crowd and knowing they were yelling for us made me happyâ€¦ it was at this moment that all the pain, the sweat was all worth it!â€
Abril during the 1600m: “I was determined to get a medal â€¦ I was not going home without something hanging around my neck, coming up to the winnerâ€™s stand and hearing my town and family saying we won the meet!â€
Mireya after handing off to Karina in the sprint relay: “I passed the baton to her â€¦ I knew Italy was coming â€¦ Karina had too much heart to give up our gold medal and in a matter of seconds, we became the state champions!â€
Karina, anchor leg 400 relay: “I could hear and feel Kortnei Johnson coming up behind me. I knew she wasnâ€™t going to take away our gold medal and seeing Van Horn on the big screen as soon as I passed was the best feeling ever!â€
Renee walking up the stairs to podium after 400 relay: “It was like the stairway to success. Every time I walk up a case of stairs, I will remember May 10, 2014, the day we became state champs, and hearing the crowd yelling VAN HORN!â€