Teams battle rain at Jesuit-Sheaner Relays


By Jack Dunaway / Arlington Morning News

DALLAS The "swish swash" sound under the runner's feet during competition at Jesuit's Haggar Stadium on Saturday was as common as the starter's gun.

An early-morning rain storm forced meet officials at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays to cancel many of the running preliminies and delay the field events. Adding to the mayhem, the timing system malfunctioned and forced meet officials to delay the track meet for several hours while the equipment dried out.

The track meet was never the same after that. A track meet that was scheduled to attract around 40 teams finished with a little more than half those teams. Many coaches decided not to risk the health of their athletes.

Sam Houston boys posted the best team finish among Arlington-area schools that particpated in the meet. Sam Houston finished third with 38 points behind District 8-5A opponent DeSoto and Jenks (Okla.).

Arlington High claimed seventh place with 24 points. South Grand Prairie only claimed four points.

"The weather does bother me, especially with my sprinters," Arlington High coach Chris James said. "I did not want them getting any pulled muscles, because our main thing now is remaining healthy."

There are only two more track meets before the District 8-5A meet on April 10. A possible injury to any athlete could force them out of the district meet.

The most interesting part of the meet came in the 400-meter relay. Only four teams participated in the event, but three of those came from District 8-5A.

DeSoto, Sam Houston and Arlington got an opportunity to see how it stacked up against the competition. DeSoto, which owns one of the best times in the Arlington-D/FW area, jumped into the lead after the first exchange and never looked back.

This was the first meet the Arlington foursome of Micah Fields, Brad Ekwerekwu, Grant Mulkey and Gary Porter has participated in the event.

"This was a good performance for us, especially since this was our first meet," James said. "There is a lot of romm for improvement."

James added he only brought 12 boys to the event but sent most of his team home after the delay. The only other event the Colts participated in was the mile relay, which they finished fourth in a field of four teams.

Sam Houston changed its first leg of the 400 relay. Cedric Jones was promoted from junior varsity for Saturday's meet, with Courtney Billingsley out of town for spring break.

Sam Houston coach David Hill said it was easier to insert Jones in as the lead leg than overhaul the entire relay team. The team had already undergone one makeover this past week with Edward Crain becoming a member of the relay team.

"The big reason we ran the event was because we have not had a lot of meets under our belts," Hill said. "Our second and third legs are pretty set.

"This was not a great performance, but it was decent. I was pleased that we showed we can compete, but they know that this is not acceptable."

Sam Houston was able to get some good performances in the field events as well. Robert Bledsoe finished second in the long jump, and Sam Houston placed three participants in the discus.

Lofton wins Masters 100

Former NFL player James Lofton won the Masters 100-meter dash. Lofton finished the event in 10.65 seconds.

The start of the events was staggered based on age of the participants. Lofton, 44, was forced to start the furtherest back of the three participants.

Wayne Benner, who benefited from the staggered start, almost held off Lofton. Benner finished the event in 10.85. Will McHome completed the event in 11.41.

Lofton has a son, David Lofton, who attends Plano West High School. David played quarterback for the Wolves' football team.

Not a problem

Meet officials decided not to hold the pole vault because of the weather. However, officials were talked into conducting the event anyway.

The only adjustment to the event was the moving of the runway. The runway, which was built off the ground, ran west to east to open the event. The runway was moved to run from east to west.

Devin Rodriguez won the 5A portion of the pole vault with a height of 13 feet, 6 inches.

Only one

Despite the bad weather, one meet record was established. Sam Bernal of Plano West won the 3,200 meters in 9:31.68. The old mark was 9:35.30, held by The Woodlands' Colin Campbell in 1998.

During the same event, South Grand Prairie's Juan Avila had a season-best run of 11:12.38. His previous season best was 11:22.00

High point

Dallas A. Maceo Smith's Ronald Simmons and Jenks' B.J. Blocker were recognized as the meet's high-point athletes in their respected divisions.

Simmons accumulated 24 1/2 points in the 4A division. He won the long jump and placed second in the 200, and he was a member of the 400 relay team that placed fourth. In addition, Simmons was on the mile relay team, which was fifth.

Blocker got 24 points in the 5A division after winning the 110 hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles. He also finished second in the high and triple jumps and was a member of the mile relay.

Blocker's first-place finish in the 110 hurdles would have been hard to dispute. He was the only participant in the event. He was one of two in the 300 hurdles.

Jack Dunaway can be reached at or 817-436-4183.

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) 2000 The Dallas Morning News
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