Bling! Bling! Titans’ rings commemorate state, national records

Published 4:35 pm Saturday, August 19, 2017


The young men sat around a couple of tables and let out a collective “Whoa!” when they saw their latest rewards for a record-setting season.

The crusts of the 2017 state runner-up rings for Port Arthur Memorial’s boys track and field team was a little more diamond-studded than the 2015 version. But how many diamonds were the Balfour-made jewelry blessed with?

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“I really don’t know,” coach Darrell Granger said. “I just tell them what I want on them and they just design it, and then they send it to me and I let them know if it’s good or not. We just go from there.”

Granger held a ring ceremony for the team Saturday at Rancho Grande in Port Arthur and wanted the Titans to take note of their record-setting times that were emblazoned on each crust. Memorial ran a national-record 1 minute, 23.52 seconds in the 4×200-meter relay and set a 5A state record of 39.80 seconds in the 4×100.

De’Andre Angelle, Ireon Brown, Xavier Hull and Kary Vincent Jr. ran both races.

“It’s unbelievable because every day at practice, we’re grinding hard,” said Angelle, now a first-string wide receiver at Texas Southern. “We’re excited and everything, but we’re going to get another one … well, the class of ’18 is going to get a gold one. We’re tired of getting a silver one, so they’re going to go out there and work their tail off, but we’re going to enjoy this moment while we’re here.”

Angelle said the Titans weren’t initially shocked about the 4×100 record, which was 0.04 second shy of the overall state and national record set by Fort Worth Wyatt in 1998.

“We were dropping our times at districts, area and regionals, so we knew we were going to drop the time to 39, but the 4×2, it was just unbelievable,” Angelle said. “Fastest ever.”

Vincent, who’s expected to see plenty of time at cornerback at LSU, won his second straight 200-meter state championship and came within 0.04 second of his own 5A record, clocking in at 20.71. Memorial competed in 6A before the 2016-17 school year.

Granger, a football assistant, said coaching track athletes who’ve gone on to play in Division I like Vincent and Angelle, Auburn running back Kam Martin and Tulane running back Corey Dauphine is a privilege. Martin and Dauphine were members of Memorial’s 6A runner-up team two years ago, and Vincent’s father, Kary Sr., is one of Granger’s assistants.

“It’s a privilege because we know we have talent in Port Arthur,” Granger said. “We have KJ [Vincent] who’s an All-American in football and comes back to be an All-American in track. Kids who can do two sports is a big thing in Port Arthur, and our kids strive to have that success and try to reach national and state records.”

Granger also awarded Allen Santos and Michael Odoms their 4×200 championship medals as alternates, adding they helped the Titans reach the state meet. Only four medals per relay, he said, are available at state.

The ceremony was also a reunion for new Ozen head coach Renwick Johnson, who had assisted Granger for the past nine years.

“I hope to take the same intensity, the same practices we had in Port Arthur and the same discipline we instill in our kids and a mixture of what I learned in high school and what I learned under coach Granger,” Johnson said, adding his appreciation to Granger for the opportunity.

Granger thanked Jefferson County Commissioner Michael Sinegal, Phillips 66, Carl Griffith and Associates and Port Arthur ISD Superintendent Mark Porterie for sponsoring the rings.

Despite not winning the team title — Manvel was first this year — Granger again made it a point to reward the Titans with rings to “make them feel special” and encourage the other kids try to set a higher bar than the one this record-breaking team achieved.

“The most important thing I wanted them to remember is that we broke a national record and a state record, and nobody else had done that in the state of Texas,” Granger said. “In my eyes, that’s a great accomplishment.”

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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