Heading into the District 19/20-3A area meet Wednesday at Palestine High School’s Wildcat Stadium, the Palestine boys’ track team hadn’t lost a track meet all season.
That didn’t change Wednesday, either.
Behind all four relays qualifying for regionals and a distance sweep from Tyler Barnard, the Wildcats topped the area meet with 148 total points.
Between the Wildcats and Ladycats, a total of 18 Palestine athletes qualified for the Class 3A, Region III meet next weekend in Humble.
All six of the Palestine relay teams are headed to Humble, led by the boys’ 800-meter relay team of Johnnie Dean, Jadarrius Beasley, Paul Barksdale and Ivory Brown, which edged Center to capture gold Tuesday.
The boys’ 400-meter relay team of Beasley, Brown, Barksdale and Marquis Clark finished third, while Brown, Dean, Clark and Marcus Robinson finished fourth in the 1,600-meter relay.
On the girls’ side, Rokayah Beavers, Stacia Johnson, Dejah Gunnels and Breanna Jackson finished second in the 800-meter relay, while the team of Gunnels, Beavers, Jackson and Danielle Harroff was fourth in the 400-meter relay.
In the most dramatic race of the day, Johnson edged a Fairfield runner in the final feet of the 1,600-meter relay race to clinch a regional spot for the Wildcats. Running with her on that relay were Gunnels, Jackson and Astrid Sandivall.
Barnard had a huge day for the Wildcats. The sophomore won the day’s first running event, the 3,200 meters by nine seconds, and then came from fourth to first in the final 200 meters of the 1,600 meters to win that race over Lufkin Hudson’s Tristen Woods. Teammate Mason Munoz finished second to qualify for regionals in his second event. He had finished fourth in the 800 meters.
Dean will head to Humble in two other events beside the relays, winning the triple jump and finishing second in the 400 meters. Beasley also won the 200 meters, while Barksdale qualified in the 100 meters, finishing second.
Billy James (long jump) and Robinson (high jump) got Palestine two more gold medals on Wednesday, while Jordan Anthony (300-meter hurdles) and Walter Sheridan (shot put) each finished third to punch their regional tickets.
Arion Sandifer grabbed the lone gold for the Palestine girls’ at the meet, winning the 300-meter hurdles in under 50 seconds.
Beavers added to her regional docket as well early in the day, finishing third in the high jump to move.
The regional meet will be held April 26 and 27 at Humble’s Atascocita High School.