SGP runs to title as squad shapes up


By Douglas Pils / Arlington Morning News

DALLAS - When the South Grand Prairie boys track and field team gets in shape, it will be dangerous.

As it stands, the Warriors proved that just having everyone compete makes them a threat to win no matter their condition. South Grand Prairie made its first statement of the season by winning the prestigious Jesuit-Sheaner Relays on Saturday with 87 points. They edged out Dallas Carter (82 points) and Jenks, Okla. (81 points).

The Warriors also beat Class 5A Region I foes McKinney, DeSoto and Irving MacArthur.

South Grand Prairie won the meet by running away with the 1,600-meter relay. The team of Andrew Crabbe, Anthony McCloud, Gavin Boothe and Clifford Sparks was never challenged after the second lap, and it finished in a season- and area-best time of 3 minutes, 18.76 seconds.

It's the first time in four weeks that the team, which finished fourth in the state last year, has run as a unit.

"This goes to show we have the same team from state last year finally all together," Boothe said. "And we're out of shape. Clifford and Andrew are in shape, but Anthony and I have been plagued by injuries.

"But we're going to have it together by Texas Relays, and I wouldn't be surprised if we pulled something off next week."

Just having a healthy Boothe aided South Grand Prairie's cause. Boothe, who missed three weeks with an injured groin, won high-point honors with 29 points. In addition to running on the winning 1,600 relay team, he won the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches), finished second in the triple jump (44-9) and was third in the 110-meter hurdles.

Boothe wasn't impressed.

"It wasn't like it was 50 points or anything," Boothe said. "Individually, I'm still disappointed. I probably will be for the rest of the year. I've dropped off tremendously since last year, and that's probably because I didn't take it as serious as I should."

Boothe said he regained some of the inner drive he was lacking right before the Warriors' heat of the 1,600 relay.

Sam Houston ran away with the first heat and finished second overall in 3:21.92. Wishing they had been in South Grand Prairie's heat, members of the Texans' squad were fairly vocal about wanting to run with the Warriors.

"I think they forgot who Gavin Boothe, Clifford Sparks, Anthony McCloud and Andrew Crabbe were. I think that's what that was," Boothe said. "We've been out of it for too long."

The only other two chances for the two schools to meet again would be the Texas Relays in Austin or the Class 5A Region I meet in Lubbock.

South Grand Prairie coach Barry Lucy was pleased to have everyone back from injuries and grade suspensions.

"It was important that we get all our kids healthy and back out here," Lucy said. "That got us on the right track. We were anxious about all of this because it seemed like we were taking so long to get going.

"It was really good to see these guys come together today at a really big meet."

Sparks turned in one of the best performances of the day, breaking 48 seconds in the 400 meters in his preliminary and final races. He started the day with a 47.84 in the prelims, and he won with a 47.76.

Like Boothe, Sparks saw plenty of room for improvement.

"This is a natural progression, and each week you have to get better and better," Sparks said. "I didn't like the finals race too much, but I'll go back and work things out in practice. I've got to keep getting better."

Sparks envisions running in the 46s.

"Running the 47s is fine, but when you push yourself out and run in the 46s, that's something," Sparks said. "Nobody remembers the guy that ran 47.7, they remember the guys that run 46s. It's just something about 46s that set you apart from everybody else."

Martin's Trenton Price finished second behind Sparks in 48.45, breaking the school record for the second straight week.

Another of South Grand Prairie's strong showings came from newcomer Cadri Shaw, a senior transfer from Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill. Shaw just became eligible this week, and he responded by winning the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 14.37.

"I'm just happy to get the chance to come out here and run," Shaw said.

Aided by its second-place showing in the 1,600 relay, Sam Houston finished eighth with 38 points. The Texans' squad of Edward Crain, Sherman Wheeler, Steven Aldridge and Corey Vaughn knocked nine seconds off their best time of the year.

Sam Houston discus thrower Aaron Anderson improved his best throw by eight feet with a toss of 150-7 to finish second.

Competing with a skeleton crew, Martin tied for ninth with Plano at 28 points. Bobby Iwuchukwu won the triple jump for the third time this year with a leap of 45 feet.

"You try to keep improving heading into the district meet," Iwuchukwu said. "It's important that I peak with some consistent performances."

Martin's Artiz Stroud used a strong kick in the final 20 meters to finish second in the 800 meters in a personal-best time of 1:59.72.

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) 2000 The Dallas Morning News
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