The Timber Creek girls track and field team has won or finished runner-up in every meet so far this season, but its athletes would be happy to trade the trophies in for one other meet title instead.
“As cool as that is (to win or be runner-up), there’s only one meet we’re working for,” said Falcons girls team and distance coach, Dan Strong. “That’s the district meet this Wednesday and Thursday at Northwest.”
District 4-5A will compete at Northwest ISD Stadium for a shot at qualifying for the area round meet. The top four placers will move on to area meet in hopes to then qualify for the regional meet.
The format now includes an area round meet which gives more athletes a shot at moving on to a regional appearance, and state.
Having an additional meet benefits teams such as Timber Creek, who compete in an ultra-tough District 4-5A where there are several nationally-ranked two-mile and half-mile runners. Sending only the top two district finishers on to a regional meet strains out some of the top competition for the regional meet.
At the state cross country meet, three of the top six teams were from District 4-5A.
“It’s more fair to have an extra meet,” Strong said of the district, area, and then regional qualifying meet format.
That is the case in the distance events in 4-5A where Keller, Carroll and Timber Creek all have top threats in the mile, half-mile and two-mile events. That includes Austen Dalquist of Keller and Erik Wingfield, Blake Contreras and Alonzo Pollum at Timber Creek.
Wingfield was the first junior to cross the finish line in cross country this last season, finishing seventh. He’ll compete in the mile and two-mile for the Falcons, as will Pollum, a senior. Contreras will compete in the half-mile event for Timber Creek.
Contreras is a Houston signee and Pollum has signed to run for Central Arkansas next year.
“To get out of the district meet may be tougher than the area meet,” Strong said.
It’s the Lady Falcons that may be the top threat in the girls division, though. The 4x400m relay has a top time in the region, challenging the better times with teams such as Cedar Hill and DeSoto.
Strong said he sees many other events which can push the girls into the top spot at district and qualify others for the next round.
Triple jumper Taylor Terry is also a member of the 4x400 relay along with Jhane’ King and Laniya Taylor.
In addition to the relay, King, a sophomore, will compete in the 100m and 400m sprints. The 400 may be King’s standout event and best shot for a regional appearance.
Taylor, a senior, will also be a threat in the 200m race in addition to her 4x4 relay event.
In order to place high, the Falcons will rely on points from the field events, too.
Maddie Aune will compete as one of the top pole vaulters for Timber Creek. Even this event is a tough district, as Northwest will return the state champion from last year, Desiree Freier.
“Maddie relishes the competition,” Strong said, “and she wants to jump and beat the best.”
In the shot and discus, Elise Hodges is one of the area’s top throwers and should also be a contender through district and area meets.
“I’ve been doing the math all week,” Strong said of predicting how the Lady Falcons might nab a top spot. “The difference between us and Northwest and Carroll comes down to a difference of about five points. It comes down to whose kids are relaxed and prepared. I feel good but we have to show up on Wednesday and show they’re ready to roll.”
The boys aren’t without their hopes of doing well.
Head boys’ coach, Stephen Ritchie, said the Falcons are fresh off a team title at the Saginaw and Crowley meets.
“Team-wise, we’re young, with a lot of sophomores and juniors,” Ritchie said.
The sprint relays have been consistent top four finishers and the youth on the squad has helped with the depth at several events.
Timber Creek will hope to see that depth garner points, especially in the field events.
Chase Dennis, a sophomore, has been a top competitor in the shot and discus, while Aaron Townsend has been performing well in the long jump and triple jump.
Ritchie said Timber Creek figures to be in the middle of the pack, with Carroll and Northwest toward the top, but he admits he hasn’t seen the likes of Keller and Haltom this season.
“Having two good meets heading into district will help us confidence-wise,” Ritchie said.