By Mireya Quintana
The UIL Track and Field State Championships were held for class 1A last Saturday, May 13, 2022 at the Mike A. Myers Stadium at UT Austin. A date to add to Van Horn Schools history book with two of our Eagle athletes accomplishing what no other Eagle has been able to in the history of the school.
VHHS Junior Bryce Virdell was the first to take to the field at the long jump pit Saturday morning with athletes from all over the state. Virdell began the competition ranked 5th of 9 long jumpers. His first jump of 20’10 ¾” giving him a 3rd place standing. Virdell fought hard for the bronze but the last competitor to jump pulled-off a jump of 21’0 ¼” to inch him off the podium.
Virdell finished the season ranked 4th out of about 600 long jumpers Texas in Class 1A Division and is the first Van Horn Eagle to compete in the long jump at the state level. Virdell has one more year to compete and he is expected to have more determination than ever.
Another VHHS Junior, Elijah Gaines returned home with a gold medal when he cleared 6’10” in the high jump competition. Gaines is an experienced state qualifier in the high jump and returned to Austin this year with hopes of winning the first place championship title, but to also set a new record in the Class 1A Division.
The former record-holder was Valentine schools Lathem Garnsey who jumped 6’6” to hold the record since 2015. Gaines went head to head with the former state champion, Robert Lee’s Noah Escamilla 6’6” jumper. Both Escamilla and Gaines cleared the 2021 6’6” winning height, however, Escamilla was eliminated after his unsuccessful attempts at 6”7” with Gaines clearing the height and becoming the new state champion.
All eyes turned to Van Horn as Elijah Gaines gave the performance of his track and field career. The fans, officials, and fellow athletes were on their feet cheering as the high jump bar continued to rise with Gaines reaching his personal best at 6’10”, shattering the 7-year-long state record. Gaines ended the 2022 track and field season the Class 1A Division Champion High Jumper and also ranked number two out of thousands of high jump athletes from Class 1A through 6A in Texas.
The Van Horn coaches and community couldn’t be prouder of these two young men and their accomplishments that will inspire those to come. Your school and community cannot wait to see what Elijah and Bryce will accomplish in their Senior Year. Eagle Pride truly never dies.