Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Relay success extends Lancaster’s state title reign
AUSTIN – As the final runners circled the track Friday evening, one question had a few heads spinning at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
When was the last year a Lancaster team didn’t win a state track title?
It was 2000. And thanks to the Lancaster boys 4x400 relay winning the final event at the University Interscholastic League’s state meet, it still is.
Lancaster scored 54 points to win the Class 4A title over Denton Ryan, which finished with 42 points after finishing second in the final event. Lancaster needed to finish at least second in the event to guarantee its fourth straight boys state title, and the team of Desmond Anderson, Trey Jones, Cedric Gilbert and Demarquis Sims came through.
“I was more nervous than when I had my first child,” coach Greg Williams said with a smile. “We went through some tough times this year, and we didn’t run well at regionals, but this was our second chance.”
Lancaster usually doesn’t need second chances, of course. The boys have won six titles since 2003, and the Lancaster girls, who finished third Friday behind Beaumont Ozen and Arlington Seguin, won eight straight from 2001 to 2008.
The Lancaster girls dedicated their performance Friday to Sharla Butler, who was a sophomore when she died of complications from encephalitis in February of 2009.
“She would’ve been a senior this year,” Lancaster junior Taije Jordan said. “This is all for her.”
Unfortunately for Lancaster, Jordan’s win in the 100-meter hurdles early in the evening wasn’t the start of many crowning moments. Ozen piled up 60 points, followed by Seguin (50) and Lancaster (41).
But the Lancaster boys got an early edge from sophomore Devin Field, who won the long jump and the triple jump. His long jump of 24 feet, 111/4 inches and triple jump of 50 feet 13/4 were nearly 2 feet better than the the competition.
“I didn’t take it for granted that I was going to win,” he said. “I knew somebody could sneak up on me.”
Lancaster hasn’t sneaked up on anyone since its remarkable run of dominance began. Football might be king in Texas, but track is king at Lancaster. It’s what the fans talk about. It’s the season everyone looks forward to, and although the names of the athletes change, the success continues.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year, but everybody expects a lot out of Lancaster,” Field said. “We have high expectations, and our coach has high expectations.”
That’s always true.
“We’ve set a level that the kids respect when they come in,” Williams said. “They understand what it’s going to take.”
And they understand what it feels like to celebrate at the finish line, because once again, a Lancaster team is champion.