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St. Joseph athletes ready for TAPPS state track and field meet (w/video)

By Taylor Mitchell
April 29, 2014 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated April 29, 2014 at 11:30 p.m.

St. Joseph's Kristen Fisher practices her triple jump Tuesday before competing in the TAPPS Class 4A state track and field meet. Fisher won the regional championship in the triple jump and placed second in the long jump despite suffering a leg injury.

flying TO STATE

• Kristen Fisher, triple jump and long jump

• Kristi Hempel, high jump

• Lauren Williams, 100-meter hurdles

• Abigail Gwosdz, pole vault

• Alex Ferrell, pole vault

• Doug Wall, high jump

At the 2013 TAPPS state track and field championships, Kristen Fisher finished fourth in the triple and long jump events.

This year, the St. Joseph sophomore wants nothing to do with fourth-place finishes. Her eyes are on bigger prizes.

"I don't want to place fourth again, and I don't want to place any lower than that," Fisher said at Wednesday's practice. "Getting higher than that and medaling would be good."

Fisher and five other members of the boys and girls track and field teams at St. Joseph will head to Waco for the TAPPS Class 4A state track and field championships. Fisher is a favorite for a gold medal in the triple jump and is one of the top competitors in the long jump.

Doug Wall is headed to the meet and will compete in the high jump. He is joined be Alex Ferrell in the pole vault. Abigail Gwodsz will represent the Lady Flyers in the pole vault, Kristi Hempel in the high jump and Lauren Williams in the 100-meter hurdles.

"They're pretty excited," said St. Joseph track coach Alvin Mumphord. "There's a little bit of nerves, but they're excited to just advance to the state track meet. They're ready to go and be done with practices."

Fisher has three regional championships to her name, including one in the triple jump at last weekend's TAPPS Region IV track meet. She would finish second in the long jump but was unable to qualify in more events after injuring her quadriceps in warm-ups for the long jump.

"When I went to stretch her out and pushed on her leg, she screamed out," Mumphord recalled. "So, I knew something was wrong. I thought she was just super tight."

Fisher was still able to run the anchor leg of the 400-meter relay but failed to advance to state by one hundredth of a second. Fortunately, doctors have cleared Fisher to compete this weekend.

"I can't let it stop me, training-wise. I still have to push myself every day," Fisher said. "I've been to the doctor, and they've helped. Now, I just have to push myself at state."

As a freshman competing for state championships, there were some nerves for Fisher, but those are gone now.

"I've made it in these two events (long jump and triple jump) before," Fisher said. "Not making as many events this year, I can focus on what I need to do and what I need to focus on."

State-bound in first year

Hempel, a sophomore, joined the St. Joseph track and field team this year and is already headed to state in the high jump.

"At the beginning of the track season when I first started, I never thought I'd make it this far," she said. "So coming this far is really exciting."

"She came out this year and was a great addition to the team," Mumphord said. "Hopefully, she can set a PR (personal record) and be in contention for a medal."

While she may not know what a state track and field competition is like, her teammates do, and they've helped Hempel stay calm.

"They always talk about how much fun it is to go to state, but in order to go to state, you have to get past district and regionals first," Hempel said. "You do have to calm your nerves and, at times when you're really nervous, you have to calm yourself and think how much you really want it."

Not just about the medals

Everyone wants to win a gold medal - or at least a silver or bronze. For many, however, just improving upon their previous performances is a success.

"I'd love for everybody to come home with a gold medal," Mumphord said. "One thing we do stress to the kids is it's not always about getting first place or always taking home the big plaque at the end. It's about their personal, individual goals and improvements. Every track meet that we go to, if everybody improves, that's the ultimate goal."

"I just want to improve on my jumps," Hempel said about her goals at the state meet. "I've been working really hard this week. Hopefully, it will pay off. Ultimately, I just want to see myself do better."

Of course, winning medals wouldn't be a bad thing.

"When we want to peak at the very end - that's our main goal," Mumphord said. "If a gold medal comes with it, we'll take it."

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