Seven Knights jump, vault, throw, race to Regionals

Riley takes first place in 1600 meters, second in the 3200; Stevens claims pole vault title with personal best height


Jolie Gabriel

Senior O’Mari Hill leaps over the bar during the high jump early Thursday morning. He secured fourth with a jump of 5 feet, 8 inches, just making the cut for next week’s Regionals meet.

Thomas Melina Raab, staff reporter

It was cold and wet this past Thursday at Burger Stadium. Not the conditions the track team was hoping for with such an important meet, but the show must go on. And that it did.

My main goals are to pass the torch onto the younger jumpers here at McCallum and to win State.

— senior high jumper O'Mari Hill

The day started off with field events, and that’s where the Knights shined. Before the clock struck noon, five athletes had already qualified for Regionals. Four of them did so in field events.

Jolie Gabriel took third in the long jump with a leap of 4 feet, 8 inches. Aasja Wren took home fourth in the discus throw, with a throw of 94 feet, 4 inches, a huge personal best for her. O’Mari Hill had a big day in the high jump, capturing fourth and jumping 5 feet, 8 inches.

“My main goals are to pass the torch onto the younger jumpers here at McCallum and to win State.”

Hill, with a personal best high jump of 6 feet, 2 inches, would have to come up big in the next two meets to reach his second goal, but it’s certainly doable for him.

Charlotte Stevens easily clears the first height of the pole vault event. She would go on to secure the win with a personal best jump of 10-06. Photo by Jolie Gabriel.

Charlotte Stevens was the star of the field events. After finishing first in the pole vault at District, she did it again, this time improving her highest jump by half a foot. She secured a new PB of 10 feet, 6 inches.

While the Knights were shining on the field, Chris Riley was back on the track doing his thing. After a disappointing 3200-meter time two weeks prior due to windy conditions, Chris more than redeemed himself. He finished second with a time of 9:39, only two seconds off his personal record. Riley’s event was the final one of the morning, and everything was calm at Burger again. but that only lasted a few hours.

At about 2:30, race officials decided to move the entire meet up an hour because of weather concerns. So at 3:15 on the dot, the gun went off, and festivities began again, starting with the 4-x-100-meter relay.

Things went as scheduled for about an hour. Then the lightning hit. At about 4:30 p.m., races were delayed another half an hour, and there were questions about whether or not the meet would continue at all. Fortunately, the delay was brief, and races continued.

Esme Barraz, the standout freshman 400-meter runner, came out of the break with a spark. She dominated the 400-meter open all year, so it was no surprise that she did the exact same thing when it really mattered. Esme captured third and a new PR of 61 seconds. The ever-elusive sub 60 is looking like a guarantee for her.

Star freshman Esme Barraz strides through the first 200 meters of her 400-meter dash. She finished in third place and set a new personal record of 61 seconds, moving on to the Regional meet. Photo by Jolie Gabriel.

The next qualification came a little later from Jonathan Porter. Jonathan had been very consistent with his times and placings all year, so finishing in the top four of his event, the 200-meter dash, seemed like a shoo-in. And it was. He finished fourth with a time of 23.68.

The next race was the last individual race of the day, and one of the most anticipated as well, the 1600 meters. The top two competitors were Philip Metcalf of LASA and Chris Riley. Philip is one of the best distance runners in the state and a Vanderbilt commit. Chris is a junior in the top 25 distance runners in Texas.

Standout junior Chris Riley comes through the first lap of the 1600 meters tightly woven into the pack. Riley went on to win the event in 4:25, coming within milliseconds of his personal record. Photo by Thomas Melina Raab.

Big stakes and big speed were the main attractions that night, and the people got what they came for. The field of eight runners stayed in a tight pack for three laps before Riley and Metcalf pulled out the big guns. The two surged forward, taking a commanding lead with 100 meters to go.

That’s when things got fun.

At District two weeks prior, the pair finished 1-2, with Metcalf taking the win by 0.04 seconds. So naturally, a big kick was in store again. With 50 meters to go, Riley took the lead and didn’t look back. He sprinted through the finish line in first place, finishing with a time of 4:25:30, 0.09 seconds off his personal record.

The two will meet again in a week at Regionals, and it’s destined to be another fun one, this time with some more competition.

Riley, along with the six other McCallum athletes who are moving on to the next level, will compete in the Regionals meet next Thursday in Humble, just outside of Houston. After that, it’s on to the big one, the State meet, held right here in Austin at Mike Myers Stadium.