Southwest boys knock off Lancaster in sprint relay

AUSTIN -- Fort Worth Southwest's Robbie Rhodes put in a full day's work by winning two gold medals and a silver Friday night at the UIL state track and field championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Rhodes, the anchor on Southwest's 4x100 relay team, was handed the baton with a sizable deficit in third place but came roaring back to beat Lancaster (40.899 seconds) by a nose in 40.892 seconds.

Lancaster won the Class 4A boys team title with 63 points. Southwest was second overall with 46 points.

"I just wanted to go catch that guy. The guys on the team rely on me," Rhodes said. "I just dug deep and ran my hardest to catch those guys. It's a great feeling to be able catch guys that are five or 10 meters ahead of you."

Rhodes was joined in both the 4x100 and 4x200 by Wesley Harris, Willie Robinson and Demondre Williams.

Lancaster avenged that loss about an hour later in the 4x200 and all it took was a new 4A record time of 1 minute, 24.89 seconds. The Raiders actually ran their best time of the season (1:25.45) but finished second.

"It felt good to come out and run our best time of the year," Harris said. "We had to stay focused and be on the same page. We all had the same mindset and gave it all we had."

The 200-meter dash wasn't even close. Rhodes burst out of the blocks en route to a personal-best time of 21.06 seconds for his second state title of the day.

"It feels great," Rhodes said. "Winning a state title is something I wanted to do and it's something everybody else wishes they could do."

Taylor ties record

Saginaw Boswell pole vaulter Lakan Taylor picked a good time to reach her personal-record height of 13 feet, 3 inches.

The junior not only won the state title but she tied the 4A state record without missing once.

"I don't think it has really sunk in yet, but I mean, jumping at 13-3 was amazing," Taylor said. "I doubled up on practice leading up to this and tried my best. It really showed today and I am just so happy."

Taylor made a few attempts at 13-5 but fell short after already winning the gold.

"I was going to try for 13-4 for the state record but if I wanted to go big I had to go for 13-5," Taylor said.

Lesson learned

Larron Black can admit now that nerves got the better of him a season ago when he finished eighth at the state meet.

That's because the Mansfield Summit hurdler returned to Austin this season and claimed the Class 4A 300 hurdles championship with a time of 37.08 seconds.

"I came here last year and didn't do my best -- I let my nerves get to me, " Black said. "I came back with a vengeance, came back and did my best."

After a light but steady rain that lasted a couple of hours, Black had a built-in excuse for failure. Instead, Black overcame that obstacle and is returning home with a gold medal.

"It was shaky with the wet track but I felt really good," Black said. "I was hoping to run a 36 or 35 but with this weather and all, I still hit 37 and came in first place."

Big payoff

Fort Worth Castleberry distance runner Gabriel Zambrano claimed the school's first track state title in 49 years by winning the Class 3A gold medal in the 3,200-meter run Friday with a time of 9 minutes, 30.2 seconds.

Brian Woolsey won the Class 3A state title in the one-mile run with a time of 4:22.0 in 1963.

"It means a lot," Zambrano said. "Two weeks ago I broke the meet record at regionals and now I broke the school record. Everything is going well for me right now."

Zambrano's success comes from his tireless work over the past four years with coach Maria Waller. To see all the hard work pay off with the title was especially rewarding for her, she said.

"We've been working really hard to get him to where he could get up there at state and put it all out there," Waller said. "We're very proud of him. This was a goal we set for him in the eighth grade, and he's one of the hardest working kids I have ever worked with."

Zambrano is also the favorite to win the 1,600-meter run today.

Four and more

Brock's Kamy Cole led the girls basketball team to four consecutive Class 2A state titles, and she added individual gold Friday by winning the 800 in 2:15.67. Cole also earned a silver medal in the 1,600.

Hoarding medals

The Crowley 4x200 team of Jasmine Lewis, Khadijah Jackson, Beanndra Porter and Neshia Moore earned a spot on the podium with a time of 1 minute, 38.17 seconds.

The Lady Eagles finished second behind state champion Lancaster, who ran a 1:36.53.

"Next year we'll be ready," Moore said. "I want to tell everybody that was here at the track to come back next year. We'll be ready and we'll get it, that's a promise."

The same Crowley team claimed bronze medals in the 4x400 a few hours later with a time of 3 minutes, 49.81 seconds. Carrollton Newman Smith won gold (3:47.11) and Lancaster took the silver (3:47.83).

Jarret Johnson,