The Sealy track team sent five of its athletes to compete in Austin last weekend in the UIL state track meet. Tyrek McNeese, Ivan Bolden, Noe Navarro, Kevon Kesee and Matt Lord all traveled to the University of Texas-Austin to compete in both track and field events over a two-day period.
McNeese placed second in the long jump on the first day. He was leading throughout the competition but lost his first-place standing on the last jump. He said despite not winning the gold, his second-place finish and silver medal is something he was extremely proud of.
“I didn’t feel too bad about it because I just started long jump so it’s not my best event and the guy that won it really deserved it,” McNeese said. “I wasn’t too disappointed by it because I gave it my all and that’s all you can really do.”
The second day saw all five athletes compete late in the morning and early afternoon. It began with the triple jump in which Bolden and McNeese were competing and the 4x100 and 4x200 relays being the team’s track events.
A peculiar moment occurred during the triple jump competition when it was put on hold to allow McNeese to compete in the 4x100. Both events were happening at the same time and per UIL rules, if McNeese is healthy and able to compete, he has to run it with the team.
“It’s tough knowing you have to run and jump at the same time but the kids knew what they had to do and didn’t complain about it and just went out there and competed,” Head Coach Ray Dabney said.
The team finished eighth out of nine spots with a time of 42.15. Dabney said the handoffs are where the team struggled the most but even with those struggles, that time was still a personal record for the group.
McNeese returned to the triple jump where he and Bolden would both medal. McNeese finished in first place with a jump of 47 feet 11 inches and Bolden won third place with a distance of 46 feet one inch.
“I’m just so glad I made it this far because I scratched in the long jump at the area meet so this was my last field event and I wanted to make sure I ended it on a high note,” Bolden said.
For McNeese, who will be graduating later in May and going to Arizona State to compete on their track team, winning gold was the perfect ending to his Sealy career.
“From my sophomore year to my senior year, I’ve come a really long way from starting out jumping 43 feet to now doing 49 so it’s just a good feeling to come all this way,” he said. “To hear that I’m the first Sealy athlete to win gold in any event is a really proud moment for me and my family.”
The team closed out the competition in the 4x200 relay in which they placed sixth with a time of 1:28. Dabney said he is still proud of the team’s effort despite not winning a medal.
“It was the end of a long two days for them so they had some dead legs and they didn’t medal but it’s impossible to tell them they didn’t run well because they really did so they should be proud of what they did,” he said.
Bolden said a large reason for the team’s success this season was the culture brought in by Dabney to the team.
“I used to dread going to practices but what Dabney has done here and how he’s changed things up, going to practices this season was the best part of my day,” Bolden said. “It’s just a really positive culture and I think it’s going to keep making the difference.”