‘They grew up real quick’: Granger breaks down Titans’ speed that’s all the buzz

Published 5:22 pm Saturday, May 13, 2017

For a relay team to complete a lap around a 400-meter track in fewer than 40 seconds, at least one runner has to complete his leg in less than 10 seconds.

Three Port Arthur Memorial runners eclipsed 10 seconds in each leg. They’re just in high school.

“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think we were capable of running that fast,” Memorial coach Darrell Granger said. “They proved me wrong. They grew up real quick.”

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On the track, being quick might be an understatement.

What the Titans achieved in that 4×100-meter relay wasn’t even the national record they broke Friday night at the University of Texas at Austin, but it was oh, so close. Just .05 faster, and they would have topped Fort Worth Wyatt’s 39.76-second run from 1998.

According to Granger’s hand-timed splits, freshman Ireon Brown ran his opening leg in 9.9, Kary Vincent Jr. went — catch your breath — 9.25, Xavier Hull 9.79 and De’Andre Angelle 10.50. Fully automatic timing (FAT), Granger said, is not used to record relay splits, but Memorial’s official time was 39.80, which set an overall UIL record.

To put in perspective, Usain Bolt holds the 100-meter world record of 9.58 seconds (set in 2009), but that’s coming out of the blocks. Granger agreed each runner in a 4×100 is usually up to full speed at the end of his leg, with the last three runners building speed at the time each one receives his baton.

“Because if you run 10.6 FAT out the blocks standard speed, you’re going to be 9-something [hand-timed],” Granger said. “You just don’t know how fast it’s going to be. It depends when you get the stick in the zone. Your time doesn’t start until you get the stick.”

Vincent, who won his second straight 200-meter state championship in 20.71 seconds Friday, said earlier in the week that team chemistry and “brotherhood off the track” gave Memorial an advantage.

“We’re all going to look out for each other,” he said. “It’s no doubt the chemistry is there. It’s just a matter of keeping the stick moving and everybody just using their great abilities.”

Granger felt the 4×100 team would really make its mark in state after strong showings in the district, regional and state meets.

“When we started from the district, we went 40.5, then 40.2, then in regionals, 40.38,” he said. “I knew after those two weeks of preparation and relaxation, I knew they could do something real special.

As for the near-national record, he added: “That’s something you don’t see too often in high school. I didn’t want to put that much pressure on my kids to do something I’d never seen myself.”


Now, about the national record

Granger did not hand-time the legs on Memorial’s national-record 4×200 run of 1:23.52, but said the splits ranged from under 21 seconds to “maybe a 19.”

“It’s just homegrown,” the 12th-year head coach said. “We’ve got a lot of talent, and once the kids realize they can get the job done, they do it and give 100 percent because they want to give everybody the excitement they had last night.”

The excitement over what Angelle, Vincent, Hull and Brown — in that order —achieved extended from the confines of UT’s Mike A. Myers Stadium. Twitter and Facebook exploded with retweets, likes and shares of news of the record run, which apparently didn’t catch many reporters’ attention immediately until a few minutes later.

“I haven’t gotten much rest because I’ve been thinking about what the whole nation is talking about,” Granger said. “Facebook and Twitter is blowing up. I’m just proud of my team.

“This is one of the best moments I’ve experienced as a track head coach.”

It was apparent from the beginning of the week that the intense practices Granger designed made the soon-to-unfold events of Friday night worthwhile to the Titans.

“Coach does it,” Vincent said, also citing prayer for the Titans to stay healthy and humble. “I give all credit to the coaches. He makes it a habit to make practice more intense by the week. As you can see, I’m gasping for air. It gets harder every week. I hate it, honestly, but I love it at the same time because I know it’s going to benefit me at the meets.”


The rivalry heated up Friday night.

Manvel won its second state championship in three years with 85 points. Memorial had 63 to finish second for the second time in three years; the schools were also 1-2 in the 2015 6A meet.

It’s still the best finish for a Memorial team in its 15-year school history.

Manvel benefited from competing in eight events to Memorial’s six and sealed the title with a win in the concluding 4×400 for 20 valuable team points. Lancaster was second in the event, while Memorial took third.

Manvel also was the wild card in the 4×400, meaning it qualified for the event by having the best third-place regional finish across the entire Class 5A.

Memorial earned a big victory over Manvel, however, with the 4×200 run. The Mavericks had the top time going into state (1:24.70) by edging the Titans by .02 second in the 5A Region III meet on April 29 in Humble.

But Granger said the Mavericks’ recent success doesn’t any pressure on the returning Titans to win state in the near future.

“We just have to maximize what we have when we get to Austin,” he said. “When you have the wild card that’s playing a major factor in who’s going to Austin, it can help or hurt you sometimes.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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