Cove summer track athletes perform well at TAAF Summer Games of Texas
By TJ MAXWELL
McALLEN – Three Copperas Cove athletes bring home the gold and another earned a silver medal in the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Track and Field Summer Games of Texas state meet over the weekend in McAllen.
“It was really exciting to see everybody do so well in very hot weather,” said Copperas Cove Summer Track head coach Keith Stifflemire. “It didn’t seem to bother us like it did some people. I was really pleased with the performances from the little guys all the way up. It was great.”
Incoming junior Shontez Simmons showed he was all healed up from an injury that kept him sidelined during the spring by winning a gold medal in the 200m dash at the state meet.
“He’s coming off an injury and we were wondering how well he would recover from it but he seems like he’s at full go to be out there winning the state track meet,” said Stifflemire. “It was real exciting to see him win the state meet. I know he’s working hard getting ready for football. He’s done a tremendous job working hard this summer and I’m real proud of him. He’s just going to be a junior.”
Simmons ran a time of 22.42 sconds to edge Jaelin Benefield (22.60) of Galena Park and Frankie Sanchez (22.66) of the No Speed Limit team to win the 16-and-uder boys 100-meter dash.
Simmons just missed he podium in his other event. He ran a time of 11.57 seconds to finish fourth in the event behind Galena Park’s James Ware (11.30).
Also claiming a gold medal was Kyle Stifflemire with a 15-feet leap in the 18U pole vault.
A coach’s son, Stifflemire is always pushing himself to do better and, despite claiming the top spot at one of the top events in Texas, he was wanting just two more inches.
“He got 15-1 at the Brownwood meet and he’s cleared 15-feet three times now so that’s good,” said father and head coach Stifflemire. “He always wants to do a little better. He didn’t (set a personal record) but he was close. He wasn’t disappointed but he wasn’t real satisfied because he was hoping to get a PR.”
The incoming senior will have all of next year to accomplish that feat.
Outgoing senior Reginald Mouton capped his high school career with a bang be claiming a gold medal in the 18U boys 800m run with a time of 1:57.60. Mouton bested Jake Merrill of Amarillo Spa by nearly a second to claim the top spot.
“He had a great spring and a great career at Copperas Cove,” said coach Stifflemire. “I think that was just like icing on the cake to go down there and get a gold medal. I think it was 106 degrees when he ran and it didn’t seem to bother him at all. He was well prepared and worked hard all summer.”
Also finishing atop the podium was Amy Pritchard in the 16U girls’ high jump. She cleared the 5 feet, 2 inch mark to tie with Madison Alegria before losing in a jump off.
“We were super excited for her to PR,” said Stifflemire. “We think that when she gets in high school next year, she’s going to be something else.”
Pritchard also finished 15th in the 300m hurdles with a time of 54.84.
Incoming freshmen Kellen Avritt also set a personal record in the 16U pole vault with a mark of 12 feet to finish just off the podium in fourth. Joe D. Barrios of Alamo took the third spot in a jump off over Avritt.
Also finishing just off the podium in two events was Kameron Jenkins. Jenkins finished fourth in the 12U boys 400m dash with a time of 59.76, just .02 seconds behind third place Vankeith Brown (11.74) of Greater House track team.
Jenkins also had a sixth place finish in the 12U boys 100m dash with a time of 13.13.
Mikayla Roberts also had an impressive showing in the 80m hurdles. After only running the hurdles for part of the summer track season, Roberts finished fifth in the finals with a time of 15.53 seconds.
“Some of our younger kids did really well, too,” said Stifflemire. “Mikayla Roberts just started hurdling about halfway through the summer season so to even qualify for state was a tremendous accomplishment. Then to make the finals and do real well, I was just really excited for her.”
Another incoming freshman, Zulma Obiedo, had an impressive culmination to her summer season as well. She finished seventh in both the16U girls’ 1,600m run and the 3,200m run.
Obiedo ran a 5:43.86 to finish just 20 seconds off the podium in the 1,600 and finished with a time of 13:01.59 to finish just 19 seconds away from a place on the podium.
“She’s a phenomenal young runner,” said Stifflemire. “She’s just now learning how to run so it’s going to be real exciting to see how she progresses over the next four years. She worked real hard to get there. She (set a personal record) in the mile and was close to a PR in the two mile.”
Ashli Hawkins also competed in the Summer Games of Texas. She finished 12th in the 16U girls’ 200m dash with a time of 26.55 and placed 12th in the 100m dash with a mark of 13.11.
“As a whole, Copperas Cove Summer Track was well represented at the T.A.A.F. Summer Games State Track Meet. Everyone that went down there either (set a personal record) or did their best that they’ve done all year so,” said Stifflemire. “It was really great to see everybody on their “A” games and peaking at the right time. I think the way they performed will carry over to next year. Almost every one of them is coming back next year and that’s going to be great for our fall and spring programs.”