Glen Rose High School junior Ally Andress is looking for an upgrade from silver to gold when she competes in the state track and field meet for the second year in a row.
Andress won the girls high jump event in the Region I-4A meet last Saturday at Lowrey Field in Lubbock, fighting through sleet, snow, rain, wind and temperatures as low as 37 degrees, made even worse by brisk winds.
Her winning height was 5 feet, 6 inches. She had won the area meet in Springtown with a 5-4 effort, but in Lubbock she came close to clearing 5-8 — despite the freezing weather.
“I think I did really well considering it was sleeting and freezing,” Andress said. “Everything was going smoothly.
“It is very special. I’m very excited to be coming back to state. The atmosphere is great because you’re competing with the best people.”
The three other GRHS athletes who competed at the regional meet failed to advance to state. Only the top two in each regional event qualify for the state meet, which will be May 11-13 at Mike Myers Stadium in Austin.
Andress will start her competition there in the Class 4A high jump on Friday.
GRHS sophomore Shalyn Wedel reached the regional level in both the pole vault and in the 400-meter dash. She had advanced by placing fourth in both events at the area meet. Saturday in the 400 she failed to make the finals, posting a time of 1:03.44 for 12th place. The winner, Kaitlyn Mathews of Big Spring, finished in 57.48.
Senior teammate Jaylan Evans, who finished one spot ahead of Wedel in the area pole vault competition, also was unable to advance in Lubbock. In the regional meet, Wedel reached 7-6, for 14th place, and Evans posted a height of 7-0 for 15th. The even was won by Bella Avila of Perryton with a 10-9 effort.
The lone GRHS boy who made it to the regional level was senior Yuri White, in the shot put. He did not make the finals, with a distance of 42-06.50 for 13th place. Hunter Dooley of Graham won it with 53-03.
Andress also competed in the regional meet in the triple jump, taking third place.
In the high jump Saturday, Andress said that she came close to notching a 5-8.
“I was clearing it, just when it kicked back it hit my thighs,” Andress said.
Last year, Andress and eventual high jump state champion Abigail Lally from Merkel both cleared 5-6 at the Austin meet, but Lally was awarded the gold medal based on fewer misses at the previous height.
Andress, who stands 5-11, said the wind became stronger during the triple jump competition, and later it began to rain. Despite the poor conditions, she jumped 3 inches higher than the runner-up in the high jump, Jordan Carter of District 8-4A rival Stephenville.
In the triple jump, Big Spring’s Kaitlyn Mathews won with a distance of 39-02.50, ahead of the 36-06.25 recorded by Jayla Norman of Bushland.
Andress is focused on earning first place this time at the state meet, although this time Glen Rose is competing in Class 4A. Last year in the Class 3A meet, her state qualifying height was 5-5.
“I’ve just got to do my best and stay consistent with each height,” Andress said.
She said that she hasn’t tinkered with her jumping technique since last year, but her mental approach has improved.
“I’m doing it the same, but I’m not letting the higher heights intimidate me as much,” she said, noting that she got more nervous when she was younger. “My freshman year, I was intimidated by 5-5, and I couldn’t clear it. Now I’m clearing it all the time.”
Fitting in with that theme, Andress is enjoying the competition more than ever.
“I feel like it’s more fun,” Andress said. “I just love the atmosphere. It’s just so neat.”