BELTON — Tr’Darius Taylor and Rene’Jah Jackson separately described characteristics of the Temple relay teams on which they run and wound up pointing toward similar attributes, including a desire to improve and a no-fear approach to competition.
They also said they have a bunch of fun, too, which was clear to see after Taylor anchored the Wildcats’ 4x100-meter relay to a first-place finish and Jackson aided the Tem-Cats’ winning run from the second leg in the 4x200 on the final day of the District 12-6A track and field meet Thursday night at Tiger Field.
Those relay championships highlighted an evening during which the Temple boys advanced to the 11/12-6A area meet in five track events while the girls qualified for the April 15 meet at Hewitt Midway in eight disciplines.
“We told coach we were going to get it,” Taylor said of Samari Howard, Mikal Harrison-Pilot and Carlton Mack — the rest of the 4x100 squad that, in just its second meet as a foursome, collectively clocked 41.62 seconds to best a field that included Killeen Shoemaker, which at one point earlier this month owned the nation’s fastest time, according to multiple track websites.
“We don’t like losing. We have a great winning mindset, so we just kept grinding, doing extra after practice and we went and got it,” Taylor, a junior, added.
Taylor also was second in the 100 and anchored the Wildcats’ 4x200 relay (Mack, Harrison-Pilot and Luke Allen), which placed second to Killeen Ellison in 1:28.55. The Eagles posted a 1:25.84.
The top four finishers in each event earned an extended season.
Harrison-Pilot was third in the 200 to move on and Tyson Tamez placed third in the 800 for the Wildcats, who were fourth in the team standings. Shoemaker was first, Ellison second and Belton third.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing but work even harder than we have been all season,” Taylor said. “We know we have the abilities to do it and we are having fun doing it.”
Along with the podium-topping 4x200 of Jackson, LaShonda Roby, Saniyah Richardson and Sidney Johnson (1:44.12), among those who advanced for the Tem-Cats were Ali Mack in the 100 hurdles (second) and 300 hurdles (second), Johnson (fourth) in the 200, Richardson (fourth) in the 100, Lyric Biggiers (third) in the 400, the 4x100 (fourth) of Leann Holmes, Johnson, Roby and Jackson, and the 4x400 (third) of Jackson, Biggiers, Richardson and Mack.
The Tem-Cats also placed fourth in the team results behind first-place Bryan, Harker Heights and Killeen. Belton was sixth.
“We came to compete,” Jackson said. “We’re ready. We’re ready for more competition. It’s time for area.”
Appreciative that he has another couple races this season was Belton’s Noah Newman, who was fourth in the 110 hurdles and third in the 300s.
“I’ve been in hurdles on varsity since freshman year and it feels good to finally go further than district,” Newman, a junior, said. “The 110, I was just focusing on my form because I don’t think I’m as athletic or as fast as some of the other people in the race. I have more stamina than I do just raw speed, so that’s why I’m better in the 300.”
The Lady Tigers’ Ayanna Jones added another individual race to her season with a third in the 200 and also helped the 4x400 relay (Grace Pohl, Jocelyn Smith, Kiara Skinner) place fourth.
Also for the Belton girls, Shannon Cook, who advanced in the 3,200 on Wednesday, added the 1,600 on Thursday with a second-place finish. Teammate Lesa Doskocil notched third.
The Tigers’ Zach Dennison made it two area qualifications in two days, placing second Thursday in the 1,600 after a runner-up Wednesday in the 3,200. Killeen Ellison’s Aaron Crittenden won both races.
“I didn’t have a strategy, really. I just wanted to run fast,” said Dennison, a junior, who did accomplish his goal with a personal best of 4:29.87. “It feels good.”