HIGH SCHOOL TRACK: Lady Panthers among area teams advancing to regionals with reworked lineup

Permian’s Emily Madrid (right) hands the baton to Isabella Garza (left) for the next leg of the girls 800 meter relay during the 1-6A/2-6A Area Meet at Ratliff Stadium. (Tony Venegas | Odessa American)

Flexibility was key for the Permian girls relays team Friday at the 1-6A/2-6A Area Meet.

Like most teams competing, Permian had its lineup set and ready to compete at Ratliff Stadium. Then the injury bug came through.

Permian’s Jaye Saenz (2) runs ahead of Abilene High’s Ian Alderson (3) during the boys 300 hurdles Friday at Ratliff Stadium. Saenz finished third in the event to qualfiy for the regional meet in Arlington.
(Tony Venegas | Odessa American)

By the time the 800-meter relays were set to begin, head coach Courtney Miller had switched out three of the team’s competitors. Amaris Woodruff was asked to run for the team right before all competing teams lined up on the track.

Despite the quick tweaks, Permian still qualified for regionals by placing fourth with a time of 1:48.17. San Angelo Central placed first in the event, followed by Abilene High and Wolfforth Frenship.

“I told them right before, short of giving up, there was nothing they could do to disappoint me,” Miller said. “They step in and take care of each other and at the end of the day, that’s why we do what we do.”

Woodruff said she felt scared before the relay race started, but her teammates talked her out of it.

“Even though we might not have practiced together, we have the talent,” teammate Isabella Garza said. “We were just shaking off the nerves.”

The result was enough for the Permian girls relay team to qualify for the Region I-6A Meet at Maverick Stadium on April 24 in Arlington. They will be joined by Permian junior Jaye Saenz, who qualified for regionals by placing third in the 300-meter hurdles.

This is the first time Saenz has qualified for the regional competition. Saenz was nervous when he first started the race, but kept pushing himself when he noticed he was in third and fourth place.

“It felt like I ran a marathon,” Saenz said.

Odessa High’s Trey Ford (right) crosses the finish line at the end of the boys 1600 meter relay Friday at Ratliff Stadium. The Bronchos finished fourth to qualify for the Region I-6A Meet in Arlington.
(Tony Venegas | Odessa American)

Among other regional qualifiers in the running events were Midland Lee’s Canyon Moses and Midland High’s Joy Egwu. Both competitors won their respective 100-meter dashes.

Egwu set a new personal record after clocking in at 12.27. She said she never imagined herself qualifying for regionals when she was a sophomore and junior.

“I never knew I would come this far,” Egwu said. “I’ve always wanted to come this far, so I’m happy that all my hard work paid off.

“I’m excited and ready.”

Egwu also clinched a qualifying spot by placing second in the 200-meter dash, followed closely by teammate Brielle Bracken, who placed fourth after clocking in at 26.06 in the event.

Permian’s Jamorah Caufield runs out of the starting block with the baton to begin the girls 800 relay during the 1-6A/2-6A Area Meet Friday at Ratliff Stadium. Permian finished fourth to qualify for the regional meet in Arlington.
(Tony Venegas | Odessa American)

Moses said keeping his head on straight will be a key factor in his preparation for his upcoming competition.

Midland High’s D’Cambrion White and Caleb Lloyd secured qualifying spots after placing second and fourth in the 100-meter dash.

The area meet concluded with the 1,600-meter relay, where the Midland Lee girls relay team qualified to regionals with a fourth-place finish.

The Odessa High boys relay team booked its place at regionals in the 1,600-meter relay with a fourth-place finish after clocking in at 3:30.18, enough to propel the team to the Arlington meet.

El Paso Franklin was named area champion after finishing first in both the boys and girls team standings.

Competitors at the regional meet will need to place in the top two of their respective events to advance to the state meet in Austin.

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya