Weatherford Sports

Mach I qualifies five for USATF nationals

Back row: Austin Christmas, Sadie Carey Front: Micah Neal, Giselle Larsen and Mayden Mitchell.
Back row: Austin Christmas, Sadie Carey Front: Micah Neal, Giselle Larsen and Mayden Mitchell. Photo courtesy

Sadie Carey knows each summer to set aside a few days for a trip with good friends.

It's her annual trip to the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics. This year it's in Lawrence, Kansas July 22-30, and yep, she's qualified once again, one of five members of the Mach I Track Club.

"I'm happy it's not as far away this year," Carey said with a chuckle. "But it's always great to qualify. I'm really looking forward to it again."

This is the fifth consecutive year in which the sophomore-to-be at Weatherford High School has qualified for nationals. In previous years the USATF Junior Olympics have been held in Florida, Houston, North Carolina and last season in Sacramento, California.

Joining Carey in Lawrence will be Micah Neal and Mayden Mitchell in the Girls 8-Under division, Giselle Larsen in the Girls 9-10 division, and WHS senior-to-be Austin Christmas in the Boys 17-18 division.

At the recent Region 12 Meet in Humble, Mach I set three records and bested a previous record three other times, only to have other runners in the same race also break a record.

The latter scenario happened to Carey twice. She finished fourth in the Girls 15-16 1500-meter run with a time of 5:01 and third in the 3000 with a 10:41, both personal-best times.

"It was nice to have someone push me to that time," Carey said. "We were all in a tight group until the last lap."

Neal set two records in winning the 1500 with a clocking of 5:39.36 and the 800 in 2:41. She also advanced in the 200 with a time of 32.91 seconds.

"I thought I had the speed to get first. It was exciting. It was hot," said Neal, grinning.

Mitchell finished second in the 800, posting a 2:52, which also topped the previous record. She is making the journey to nationals for a second straight year.

"We trained really hard. We did hills and ran at Soldier Springs Park, the bumpy roads," she said.

Larsen qualified for nationals in her first season of competing for the club, her first season of competing anywhere.

"It felt awesome. I didn't think that would happen," she said of her regional record of 5:25.12 in the 1500. She also qualified in the 800, finishing third with a time of 2:40.

"Mr. Matt (Mitchell, assistant coach) told my dad and my dad said, 'You broke a Region 12 record. That's crazy!'"

Coach Mitchell said the best is yet to come from the three young standouts, who also play for the same youth soccer team in Aledo.

"They could break every record in Texas by the time they are through," he said. "They push each other. They make each other better every day."

Christmas also posted a pair of personal bests in placing second in the 800 with a 1:57 time and taking fifth in the 1500 in 4:13. The twin qualifications highlight his return to the team after taking nearly a decade off since participating as a young runner.

“He really wanted to have a strong senior year at Weatherford High, and I think he will," said Mach I head coach Lupe Torres.

"I was more of a football guy back in the day," Christmas said. "It was great coming back. It blew me away when I made nationals."

Carey joined the team late in the season, taking a break after running for WHS in both cross country and track - advancing to state in cross country and regionals in two track events.

"I decided to just train and start running at the (Southwest) Association Meet this year. The break really helped," Carey said.

"We gave her a little rest, but she was still working out hard," Torres said. "I think this could be her year (to medal). They'll give medals to the top eight, and she knows what to expect, having been there so many times."

That experience is also a calming influence to her teammates, Torres said.

"Plus, Sadie's a role model. The younger ones, especially, look up to her," he said. "The same thing for Austin and the success he's had at Weatherford High."

Narrowly missing a nationals berth was Brysen Crippen, who finished seventh in the Boys 13-14 100 hurdles, clocking a 15.93. He also finished 11th in the 200 hurdles with a 30.09.

Rylan Shaffer was 12th in the Boys 13-14 3000 with a 10:54. Ella Pando, running the Girls 13-14 1500, had a personal-best 5:25.

Payton Johnson ran a 6:17 in the Girls 9-10 1500, while Emmy Strathmeyer clocked a 7:13 in the same event. Melany Ramirez had a 7:39 in the Girls 8-Under 1500.

"They learned from being there and now they know what it takes to get to nationals," Torres said. "They're hungry."