After falling short of a district title, the Gonzales Lady Apache area qualifiers won multiple gold medals to propel the team to an area championship, their first since UIL added the area meet to the track and field postseason seven years ago. Five Lady Apaches advanced to the regional meet with one other one going in as an alternate.
On the boys side, seven Apaches advanced to the regional meet with Will Knox as the lone gold medalist.
“Fell a few points short on the district title,” Gonzales Lady Apaches track and field coach Cully Doyle said. “It is what it was. But man, our area qualifying girls really stepped up, we had multiple events we were represented at the meet.”
The Gonzales Lady Apaches track team lost to Cuero by 10 points at the District 30-4A track meet. But the team turned things around with a total of seven gold medals. Six Lady Apaches will be representing 11 of the 17 different events at the regional meet.
“It was fun. It was rewarding because the girls deserved it,” Doyle added. “We were the team to beat, we were also the team to beat at district. We just didn’t have a few things go our way, so we get to the area meet and now there’s 12 total schools and we line up and compete and the girls took care of business.”
Qualifying for the Region IV-4A meet are Veronica Moreno in the 3200-meter, 1600-meter and 800-meter races, Peyton Ruddock in the 100-meter, 100-meter hurdle, 300-meter hurdle races, Devon Williams in the shot put and discus, Samantha Barnick in the long jump and triple jump and Caitlyn Blundell in the pole vault. Julianna Castillo is an alternate in the discus throw.
Williams hit a personal record in both of her throws, winning the discus with a 136-3 and winning the shot put event with a 41-7 ¾ distance.
“That’s winning the area right and going into the region [as] the top throw,” Doyle noted. “We understand there’s some solid girls out there. Devon and I have had those conversations and she’s not oblivious to that, and neither am I. We’ve got to compete that day at the regional meet but right now she’s got some of the top throws, so we’re excited about that.”
Last season, Williams was the only Lady Apache to qualify for state.
Other area gold medalists include Ruddock in the 100-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles, Moreno in the 800-meter run, Barnick in the triple jump and Blundell in the pole vault.
“Got the area championship, which is huge, Doyle said. “Not to take away the district championship, but the area championship is pretty big when you got two districts coming together. That was huge. Twelve total schools, head-to-head.”
Doyle, as well as assistant coaches Kevin Johnson and Rachel Tucker, also work with long-distance runner Antonio Hernandez who qualified for the regional meet in the 800-meter run. Hernandez comes off a long postseason run with the Gonzales Apaches boys soccer team that ended in McAllen on April 12. With fresher legs, Doyle believes Hernandez will surpass the times he’s put out so far.
“He’s healthier than he’s ever been,” Doyle said of the junior runner. “He felt good at area. We didn’t run a smart race, I’ll say that. He and I talked about that. But that hopefully helps us going into regionals, knowing what we got to do.”
Hernandez took second behind Pleasanton’s Orlando Oltivero.
Staying on the boys side, Kenneth Cavit and Jared “JT” Esparza took second and fourth, respectively in the discus throw. Cavit also advanced to regionals by taking second in the shot put. Will Knox won the area in pole vault while Zach Davis placed third in the 100-meter dash. The 4x200-meter relay team of Seth Gibson, Kenneth Cavit, J Martinez and A Martinez placed third to advance to the regional meet.
The Region IV-4A track and field meet will be at Javelina Stadium at Texas A&M University – Kingsville from April 26-27.