Track & field: Charles, Gills running for gold
It's a 'been there, done that' moment for Dawson senior Dominique Charles, and the first time for Manvel freshman Meschelle Gills, and both could come home with state medals.
Charles and Gills are part of an as-usual large local contingent set to compete at the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday, May 13-14, in Austin.
Charles has been to state as part of third place 1,600-meter relay teams as a sophomore and junior, and he added a fifth in the open 400 last spring.
"The 400 at state was far from my best race during 2010," Charles said. "It was just one of those days, and I'll try to use that experience to my benefit this week.
"You have to stay focused when you're in your event because it's a unique track at UT (University of Texas' Mike A. Myers Stadium). It's easy to get pulled out of your race by the distractions, and that's where having been there will hopefully pay off."
After winning the 4A Region III 400 for the second straight year last week, Charles hopes to go out with a bang at state before heading off to his collegiate career at the University of Houston.
For Gills, many think this is the beginning of several state appearances for the Manvel freshman, and her coach, Jamie McRae, is in full agreement.
"She is mature beyond her years, and was a vocal team leader for us all year, in cross country and track," McRae said. "She has a great future, and what she's doing is super positive for our program, and it will be very nice to have her around for another three years."
While Gills is Manvel's lone state participant, Dawson also has Karina Turner (girls 100 hurdles), Brook Wilson (girls 300 hurdles), Jennifer Blair (pole vault), David Parker (boys high jump), Kennedy Estelle (boys shot put), and girls 400 and 800 relays that could include Cybil Obiozor, Erica Davis, Brittany Williams-White, Jazmyn Jones, Brook Wilson and/or De'Angellque Hardeman.
Parker cleared 6 feet, 10 inches to win the region high jump and record the top regional mark in the state.
Turner (14.765 in 100 hurdles) and the Lady Eagles 800 relay team (1:40.96) are also coming off region gold.
Charles came close to four straight state appearances in the 400 having placed third at regionals as a freshman and sophomore.
"We competed in (Class) 3A my freshman year, and I slipped coming out of the blocks and then dove at the finish line to just miss state," he said, "and as a sophomore in 4A, the competition was just better, and again, I missed out by one spot."
Friendswood has two state qualifiers with Ryan Teel in the 4A boys 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and Shannon Ellis in the 4A girls high jump.
Ellis was the region champion (5-5), and Teel was second in both distance races.
Pearland is sending senior Allie Saunders to Austin in the 5A girls triple jump.
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