Cuero's Sheppard, Yorktown's Barefield win gold at state meet
May 12, 2012 at 12:12 a.m.
Updated May 13, 2012 at 12:13 a.m.
AUSTIN - Abby Sheppard gained redemption, and Jayden Barefield secured a repeat.
Sheppard and Barefield won gold medals at the UIL State Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Cuero's Sheppard won the girls Class 3A 300-meter hurdles, and Barefield won the boys Class 1A 200-meter dash for the second consecutive year.
Advocate-area athletes brought home nine medals on the final day of the meet, which included cloud cover and breezy conditions.
Sheppard's win in the 300 hurdles was especially rewarding for the junior.
She hit the first hurdle in the event last year and finished fifth and hit the next-to-last hurdle in the 100 hurdles on Saturday and missed out on a bronze medal by .01 second.
"Everything I worked for this year has finally paid off," Sheppard said. "It's really what I wanted. I've dreamt about it long enough. It's great to see it in real life."
Sheppard ran a clean race in the 300 hurdles, leading virtually the entire way and winning by a comfortable margin.
"I was just thinking pull through and don't hit it," Sheppard said. "I hit the next to last one in the 100 and that helped me more than anything. I just wanted to win. I'm not upset. I did better than I ever thought I would. The fact that I almost won really helped me."
Sheppard got together with coach Layne Elkins after the 100 hurdles and was able to refocus on her second race.
"My coach told me the 100 hurdles is just the icing on the cake," Sheppard said. "These hurdles are what you've been waiting on all year. I've only done 100 hurdles for a month and half, this was my real race."
Sheppard was running the 300 hurdles in Lane 2, the same lane she ran in last year. But once she cleared the first hurdle, Elkins knew she would run a good race.
"I felt like she hit it clean," Elkins said. "We worked on that and I think it helped with her confidence because she was upset after the 100's. I think part of it is she was in front and was like 'I can win this.'"
Barefield stayed in front from the start in the 200 and never lost the lead. He was motivated by coming into the race as the fourth seed.
"I felt good actually," he said. "I saw my time was in fourth so every day I worked twice as hard in practice. Get back in first, get back in first so I did it."
Barefield also won a bronze medal with Rodryk Williams, Cody Lubyinesky and Kolbe Ybarra in the 800 relay like he did last season.
He hopes to continue his track and field career at Texas A&M-Kingsville and wasn't quite sure what to make of his back-to-back gold medals.
"I don't know," he said. "It feels real good though."
The Shiner boys were pleased after winning silver medals in the 800 and 1,600 relays. The Comanches had hoped to win a team title, but weren't disappointed with finishing third in the team standings.
"We were close but no cigar," said Zach Lawrence, who ran on the 800 relay with Marcus Coleman, Evel Jones and Trev Flowers, and the 1,600 relay with Jones, Marlon Wallace and Lucian Blaschke. "It was a good accomplishment. We had our best times in all of our stuff, so we can't be disappointed."
Shiner's Laneshia Hunt was happy to bring home her first individual medal, winning a silver in the 100.
"It was a good race," said Hunt, a junior. "I realize she (Crowell's Jasmine Sillemon) was really good. I wanted gold, but making it this far and getting second at state is pretty good. I finished fourth as a freshman, but medaling means a lot."
Yorktown's Vickie Niemeyer earned her first medal in her second appearance at the state meet. The sophomore won a silver in the Class 1A shot put.
"The first time there was a lot of nerves," Niemeyer said. "This time I just went out there and did what I knew how to do. I was happy with what I was throwing. My goal was to do better than I did last year (eighth) and if I got a medal that was better."
Sheppard couldn't think of a better way to head home for the prom than with a gold medal around her neck. She was even thinking about altering her attire.
"I might go in this," she joked.