SETTING THE PACE
Fri, 2016-07-29 05:00 News Staff
CenTex Pacesetters track club sends seven to TAAF State Meet in McAllen
By TJ MAXWELL
The off-season is nearly over for athletes throughout the state of Texas, but for a group of track and field athletes, their season is in high gear right now.
Seven members of the CenTex Pacesetters summer track and field program earned a trip to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation State Track and Field Championships this weekend in McAllen.
Seven of the eight team members from the greater Copperas Cove area that competed in the TAAF Region V qualifying meet, compete for a state title this weekend.
“They actually exceeded my expectations,” said Pacesetters head coach Vincent Watson. “We had eight athletes and seven advanced in the regional competition and we won a whole lot of medals. They definitely lived up to the training. At the state championships, we have the same expectations.”
Watson has reason to be confident as three of the seven athletes are in the top three of all qualifiers.
“We have a few athletes in the top three so we expect some state champions,” said Watson. “We’ve had a lot of good practices since the regional qualifier and they have gotten a lot faster.”
Brianna Washington has the top time of all 19 athletes in the 18-and-under 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 25.44 seconds, just .24 seconds in front of Graciela Hutson of Waco (2:25.68). She also has the second-fastest time in the 1,600m run with a time of 5:46.35. Kelly Aguinaga of Elsa Edcouch holds the top time of 5:43.76.
Zoe Pearson holds the thirdfastest time in the 16U 800m run with a mark of 2:25.68. Bailey Kinney of San Angelo enters with the top time of 2:22.25. Person also has the seventh-fastest time in the 400m dash with a 1:01.09. Mariah Ayers of Mesquite tops the field with a mark of 58.05.
Abigail Mouton finished fourth in the 10-and-under division of the 200-meter dash to qualify for the state meet.
Her sister, Katelyn Mouton, qualified in both the 12U 800m run and 1,600m run with top two finishes in each event. She finished with a mark of 2:59.94 for a 2nd-place nod in the 800m run and notched a 6:41.48 to finish first in the 1,600m run in front of cousin Michaela who finished second to qualify with a mark of 6:50.91.
Older brother Reginald Mouton notched a 3rd-place finish in the boys’ 18U division of the 800m run with a time of 2:03.43 to qualify.
Pearson qualified with 1st place finishes in the 400m dash and 800m run. She won the 400 with a time of 1:01.09 and the 800 with a mark of 2:25.68.
Washington notched a 1st-place finish in the 18U division of the 800m run with a time of 2:25.44 and the 1,600m run with a time of 5:46.35.
Jaylen Waters earned a trip to state with a 4th-place finish in the 8U 800m run with a time of 3:25.35.
It has been a challenging road for Watson and his team as the Copperas Covecentric squad has been battling the scorching temperatures while spending most of their time away from their hometowns. There is often a lot of travel involved with summer sports and that is no different for Watson and his squad. Teams expect to travel for competition but can usually stay close to home for practices, but even that has been burdensome for the squad.
The Pacesetters have to alternate training sessions between the dirt track at Central Texas College and the hard surface of Salado Junior High.
“It’s unfortunate that we don’t get the support we think we should get from the community with the local high schools that have tracks,” said Watson. “I think it’s partly because this is a football state and a big football city.
“We have a lot of females and they don’t play football so they fall into track and field but it’s challenging not being able to use the tracks. I’m at the point that we would pay a fee for the track if we could get the rights to a track. I think there is a little bias on what coaches get a track. There are a lot of programs out there but I like to believe there’s no better program than mine of course, but we don’t get the love.”
The extra travel means his athletes and their parents have to be even more committed.
“We have been travelling too,” said Watson. “We practice in Salado, (Central Texas College) and Copperas Cove. That’s a huge commitment from the athletes and from the parents.”
That’s on top of the commitment it takes to even compete in an outdoor sport during a Texas summer.
“It’s definitely a commitment, especially for us coaches because we all have full time jobs,” he said. “We come out here and work with the kids for an hour and a half or two hours and the kids could be doing something different like sitting at the house playing video games but they come out here. It shows commitment and dedication to come out here in the sun.”
For Watson, giving athletes another tool to help them on the track and in life is worth all the hard work and dedication he and assistant coaches Derwin Graham Sr. (father of for Cove and Baylor distance runner Derwin Graham) and Anthony James (father of Cove standout distance runner Amber Boyd) put forth.
“Hopefully it boosts their potential and creates a better future for them,” said Watson. “Amber Boyd is drawing a lot of collegiate interest and that’s the goal. That’s why we come out here and that’s what keeps us committed as coaches and parents.”
He also feels strong summer youth programs can help at the next levels and in life overall.
“I tell my kids and their parents that we don’t believe in magic. When you walk across the stage in high school, reality and life is going to hit you and people are going to hold you to another standard,” he said. “Out here, we hold the athletes to high standards. We set the paces for them because when they get out in life, someone will push you beyond your comfort zone. You have to get out of your comfort zone to excel in life. This is what you get introduced to on the track. We set the standard so they can get out of that comfort zone and hopefully get to the next level of competition and performance.”
Watson feels track and field as a whole is not as popular as it once was and feels that better communication between the ‘select’ sports programs and the area school districts will help grow the sport and create a more beneficial relationship to help youth athletes transfer to the junior high and high school levels seamlessly.
“To improve the relations, I think CCISD and KISD need to take ownership of who gets rights to the tracks,” he said. “I think they are doing the community a disservice by not having ownership at the school district level versus the high school level. I think if the school districts take ownership of who has rights to the tracks, I think it will be better and fair. Right now, I don’t think it’s fair or balanced.”