After the relay prelims of the Class 4A Region I track meet in Abilene, Crowley coach Keith Harkness noticed that Daneaz Moses needed work on baton exchanges. Moses was running in his first meet with the group.
So, that Friday night nearly two weeks ago, the Eagles went to the track at Abilene Cooper High School to work on handoffs.
The next day, Crowley’s 4x100 relay clocked a time of 42.21 seconds, finishing second to Waco, but clinching a trip to the UIL state championships in Austin. Crowley’s quartet of Moses, Matt Marner, Desmond Anderson and Devondre McGrew also earned a spot in the 4x200, the only area school to send two relays to state.
The 4x100 starts at 6 p.m. Friday, with the 4x200 at 7:25 p.m. at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium
The Eagles aren’t necessarily young — Marner and Moses are seniors, while McGrew and Anderson are a year younger. But this year is their first running together. Marner and Anderson ran on the same relay last season. Moses came out to track this March after finishing basketball. And McGrew, the anchor for both relays, arrived at Crowley this year after transferring from Fort Worth Dunbar.
McGrew said this season has already exceeded his expectations.
“When I got here, I just wanted to be a part of something I had never been a part of before. And now we’re getting to do something we’ve never done before,” McGrew said. “As a team, we didn’t really expect to go all the way to state this year. We just really wanted to at least get to the regional finals.”
But to advance beyond regionals, the Eagles had to overcome two teams that had troubled them all season: Waco and Everman. The Eagles hadn’t beaten either school. But once Moses got more comfortable with his handoffs, the difference was enough to push Crowley into second place.
“You could just see [the difference] when they were running,” Harkness said. “When we passed Everman, I knew we had a chance.”
Crowley will travel to Austin on Thursday afternoon before working out at an area high school. Then, the team will take an ice bath and head to the hotel. On Friday, they’ll arrive at the track around 4 p.m. to warm up and practice handoffs.
Then it’s two shots at a state medal.
“You run in front of more people than you’ve ever seen in your life,” Harkness said. “You just have to make sure everything is perfect. Everything you’ve worked on, just go run and let it out.”
Crowley is the eighth seed in the 4x100 and the seventh seed (1:27.44) in the 4x200. Admitting they are half-surprised to make it this far, the Eagles still have something more to prove, Anderson said.
“We have a chip on our shoulder,” Anderson said. “We’ve worked hard and look where we’re at.”