SPEED TO BURN — Memorial, Port Neches-Groves runners advancing to state meet

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Six track and field athletes from Memorial High School and one from Port Neches-Groves High are advancing to the state competition after their performances at the regional meet this past weekend.

Memorial’s Amante Martin, Daevon Iles, Semaj Pierre and Brandon Richards finished second in the 4×200 with a time of 1:26.3. The time was the unit’s best of the season and was second to only Fort Bend Marshall, who is currently the fastest group in the state at the 5A level, with a time of 1:25.17.

Memorial is currently the second fastest in the state.

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Martin and Richards are also competing with teammates Jakelbe Joseph and Mathew Christian in the 4×400. The Titans finished three-tenths of a second behind Randle at the regional meet.

“We showed we can be a really good 4×200 team,” Memorial coach Darrell Granger said. “If we just go to state and execute in that race, we can come away with a medal. The 4×400, we ran our (personal record) of 3:19. I know we can improve on that time. If we improve the proper way, we can also medal in that one at state, too.”

Granger said having Fort Bend Marshall in the same district is pushing the Titans this season with a long-standing rivalry.

“That goes back to about 2014,” Granger said. “Marshall has been a team that always competes well, and we want to compete against the best in the state. That makes our kids go a little bit harder.”

Morgan Campbell, seen on the Port Neches-Groves High School track, is a looking for a strong showing this season at State. (Chris Moore/The News)

PNG’s Morgan Campbell also reset the school’s record book with her times in the 1,600m and 3,200m races.

PNG track coach Jessi Farmer said Campbell opted not to run in the 800m race at the regional meet to focus on the other events.

“She did really, really well,” Farmer said. “She took the plan that coach (Matt) Ellis had for her and went with it. Those final kicks in both of her races, she did phenomenal. She had lots of foot speed there. Her competitors just couldn’t keep up with it.”

PNG’s Joley Nail, Jardin Cunningham, Allison Gutierrez and Katherine Page performed well but did not advance to state. They broke the school’s record for the 4×200 with a time of 1:43.49.

With the state meet in Austin not until the first weekend in May, the runners have to find a way to balance enjoying the off time but also keeping focus on training and preparation for the biggest meet of the year.

“(Campbell) will just keep working,” Farmer said. “She will have some regular work days along with some lighter days. You just keep her doing what she is doing. You don’t want to change it up too much. This is her first week with no meet since March. Practices don’t change. She just keeps going.”

The 5A competitions will be on May 2-3 at the Mike A. Myers Track & Soccer Stadium in Austin.