Austen Dalquist entered the UIL State Track and Field meet with the fastest times posted this year and the pressure on his shoulders to uphold the expectations in both the 1600 meter and 3200m events.
At the state meet in Austin, this Austen didn’t let anyone down.
The Keller senior posted new personal bests in both races to bring home two state titles and helped the Indians to a tie for a fourth-place finish as a team.
In the two-mile, run early in the day, Dalquist ran an 8:57, far below his target goal of a sub-9 minute race.
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Under the stadium lights on Saturday night, Dalquist said he felt more relaxed, after having already garnered a medal. His one-mile run was another personal best of 4:07.
“It felt amazing,” Dalquist said. “It was surreal. After the two-mile, all the work I put in, in combination with the pressure, made it a great moment,” he said of taking the second gold medal. “It meant a lot to me. It was a lot of fun.”
The strategy was fairly simple, Dalquist said.
“The goal was to go for it,” he said. “I knew I had a chance to go under nine (minutes). I had a 9-flat on my shoulder,” he said, referencing his previous best.
Dalquist said he shook off a little soreness later in the day as he warmed up for the one-mile event and just went all-out.
The Arkansas signee said he received several congratulatory texts following his standout day. Included in the text messages was one from an Arkansas coach which included several exclamation points.
Two other Keller athletes also competed at the state meet.
Senior Derek Gutierrez ran his personal best in the 800m to place fourth, while Gabe McAdams, also a senior, was seventh in the pole vault.
Keller head coach Billy Overshown said Gutierrez ran a great race, evident by his 1:52.93 time.
“If the race had been just another 10 meters or so, I think Derek may have gotten third,” Overshown said.
“With all three of them being seniors,” said Overshown of his state competitors, “it was a great way to cap off the season.”
Overshown also noted the fourth-place state finish by Keller was preceded by a fifth-place district finish and a fourth-place at the regional meet.