At the Region I-4A track and field meet Friday and Saturday in Lubbock, Glen Rose High School will be represented by a wide range of athletes — from a relative newcomer to the sport, to an experienced veteran hoping to advance to the state meet for a third consecutive year.
GRHS senior multi-sport standout Ally Andress is the defending Class 4A girls state high jump champion. She won her fourth consecutive area high jump title on April 18 in Springtown, jumping 5-4. She will be aiming for her third straight appearance at the state meet when the regional competition gets underway at Plains Capital Park/Lowrey Field in Lubbock.
GRHS has seven girls and four boys competing in the regional event, after they finished among the top four in each event. The top two regional finishers will qualify for the state meet, which will be May 11-12 at Mike Myers Stadium in Austin, on the campus of the University of Texas.
The Lady Tigers’ regional qualifiers, in addition to Andress, are senior Laken McAnear (300-meter hurdles); senior Breanna Rosentreter (shot put); junior Shalyn Wedel (pole vault); sophomore Avery Turner (800-meter run); and freshman twin sisters Alexis Mims (800) and Jocelyn Mims (3,200).
The GRHS boys competing are senior Chance Hatfield (400-meter run and 1600-meter relay); senior Drayden James (300 hurdles); junior Jett Gould (1,600 relay); and sophomore Brick Umphress (1,600 relay).
As a sophomore, Andress equaled the 5-6 jump of the eventual champion, but had to settle for the runner-up spot and the silver medal based on number of misses at the previous height.
Andress earned her gold medal for winning 2017 state high jump championship with another 5-6 effort, while the runner-up posted a height of 5-5.
“I’m excited. I think I’m in a good position,” said Andress, who has jumped 5-7 earlier this season and had a personal best of 5-8 last year. “I’ve been to regional (four times), so I know what it feels like. I’ve just got to jump my best.”
Andress signed a letter of intent to attend Texas A&M on a track scholarship starting in the fall, so she may be more focused more on setting another personal best mark rather than worrying about the prospect of repeating as the state champion.
“I’m focused on getting better personally, not on how far I go,” said the 5-11 Andress, who has earned all-state basketball and volleyball honors.
“She’s consistently jumping 5-6,” said third-year GRHS girls head track coach Sandy Langford, who also coached Andress in volleyball. “I’d like to see her PR.”
Langford said it’s more about the mental approach for Andress, rather than the physical ability — which in her case is a given. She also believes Andress has more room for improvement at the collegiate level.
“A lot of seniors peak, but I don’t think that the case with Ally in college,” Langford said.
James qualified in his two events despite not having much track experience.
“I played other sports, so I never had time,” James said. “It’s very exciting. It’s a good experience. Something new.”
James finished as the runner-up in the area meet in the 300-meter hurdles.
“He only ran in one meet in hurdles prior to this year,” GRHS boys track coach Jacob Marwitz said of James, who enrolled in GRHS two years ago after having been a student at Arlington Martin. “He’s gotten better and better each week, and he seems more confident now. He’s gotten better as the competition gets better. He’s a natural athlete, but he also puts in a lot of time.”
Hatfield won the district and area championships in the boys 400, making up for last year when he was hampered by a foot injury. This year, he has been involved in basketball and is still in baseball, and also missed time from track practice when he went on a school trip to Japan.
“So his first meet was after spring break,” Marwitz said. “He’s only had four meets. He’s dropped him time each week. If he improves the way he did the last three weeks, he’s got a chance to be in the finals (in Lubbock).”
McAnear narrowly missed qualifying for the state meet as a freshman in 2015, finishing third place in the 300-meter hurdles. Her time was just 0.02 of a second behind the second-place finisher that year. Entering this year’s regional, her best time ranked 13th going in, but Langford said that all of the competitors are within hundreths of seconds of each other.
This marks the second straight regional appearance for Wedel in the pole vault. Langford said that her height of 8-6, achieved at the area meet, ranks eighth-best, but it’s close.
“If she can get nine feet, she has a great shot (at getting out of regional),” Langford said. “She’s gone nine feet before (at the practice meet in Godley).”
Alexis and Jocelyn Mims, who are freshman twin sisters, first made their mark at the high school level with their performances during the cross country season last fall. With their help, the Lady Tigers own the girls cross country district team title, and Jocelyn advanced to the state meet in that sport. Alexis won the area title in the 800 with a time of 2:26.10.
Rosentreter’s winning distance of 35 feet, 3 inches in the shot put at the area meet should put her in contention for at least second place in the region, according to Langford, as she battles it out with Stephenville’s Aubreyanna Ziegler, who was second with 34-9 1/2.
The GRHS boys 1,600-meter relay team’s time of 3:27.68 was good for second place in the area meet, after having won the District 8-4A title.
“There are five teams, all within a second of each other,” Marwitz said of the regional field. “We have the third-best time. They have only run in four track meets, and their time has gotten better each week. If they improve like they have, they have a chance to get one of the top two spots and advance to Austin.”
Marwitz, in his second year as the GRHS boys head coach, said he has been pleased that the Tigers have shown progress each week.
“They’ve continued to improve their times all year,” Marwitz said. “They have been committed and dedicated to work. I’m proud of that, especially for the seniors (Hatfield and James). Having those two guys is big. It raises the standard for the other guys.”
In the area meet, the Lady Tigers finished fourth in the final team standings with 56 points, behind Waxahachie Life School (135), Stephenville (126) and Kennedale (97). The GRHS boys finished eighth, with 34 points. Midlothian Heritage won the boys title, with 119 points.