Brooks, Clark headed for state track meet

Underclassmen earn a trip to showcase

HUMBLE—The Rockdale Tigers track team entered regionals with a full contingent of talented athletes.

Two survived the rigourous competition and now will carry the Tiger torch to the state track meet next week.

Sophomore Daniel Brooks blazed to a second place finish in the 110-meter hurdles and junior LeRaven Clark muscled his way into Austin by placing second in the discus at Turner Stadium on Monday and Tuesday.

The University Interscholastic League state track meet will be held Friday and Saturday, May 14-15 at Mike Meyers Stadium on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

Clark will throw on Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m., while Brooks will run at 12:55 p.m. on the same day.

“I am so proud of all of the kids,” said Rockdale track coach Brent Hasselbach. “ It was a great meet and it is really exciting to be a part of the Rockdale track program. I know we didn’t win the meet in either division, but we have the best kids around.”

Brooks become the fifth member of his family to earn a spot in the state track meet in the hurdles which include his father Tony, uncles Donny and Dennis and sister Krysten who went the past two years and now runs at Texas-Arlington.

However, he has accomplished a feat that no one else in his family can claim—he made it to the state meet as a sophomore.

“It’s a lot of pressure, because I don’t want to let my family down,” Brooks said. “There’s a whole lot of relief making it to state.”

The speedster just missed out on doubling up in the 300-meter hurdles, placing third despite turning in his best time of the year at 40.19.

He will miss the opportunity to take a shot at his father’s Class 3A state record of 36.44 which has held up for 25 years.

“Daniel did a fantastic job,” Hasselbach said. “He led the highs for the first four hurdles but caught the fourth hurdle. He did a great job recovering and staying in his rhythm and finishing the race. If he runs a smooth race at state, he has a legitimate chance of winning it.”

Both Brooks and Clark were bested by athletes with previous state meet experience.

Brooks finished second to West Orange-Stark’s Philip Jones, who happens to be the defending state champion in the event.

Jones turned in a timing of 14.30 to Brooks’ 14.41, but in the preliminaries, Jones figured out Brooks was a serious threat, barely edging him out 14.63 to 14.67.

Clark was runner-up in the discus to the best weightman in the state—regardless of class—in Navasota’s Rodney Brown, who won regionals in both the discus and shot put.

Brown is a power pack at 5- foot-11 and 210 pounds, who’s career best is 198-7 1/2.

Brown, who was sixth at last year’s state meet, reeled off a 171- 05 to win at regionals.

Clark improved to 158-10 on his fifth throw, then had to sweat out a last attempt by Tatum’s Trance Johnson, who was third at 156-6.

Johnson scratched on his final throw and Clark, a junior like Brown, was headed for state.

Clark’s effort was his best of the year by over four feet.

“LeRaven set the tone early and then kept improving,” Hasselbach said. “His last attempt would have won the event but his foot barely caught the edge of the ring. It was over 170-feet.

“I am very excited to see what he can do at the state meet.”

There was hope that the 6- foot-6, 250-pound Clark could double up and make the trip in the shot put, but despite a decent throw of 46-feet, he tumbled to 15th place.

Rockdale’s Logan David placed fourth although he got off his best throw of the year at 50-08.

The Tigers’ sprint relay team— which includes Brooks, Greg Chelf, Terral Dixon and Austin Morrow—were beaten out of a state meet appearance by 2/100ths of a second by arch rival Cameron, 42.31 to 42.53.

District champion Juan Rubio was sixth in the 3,200-meter run.

At one point in the meet, the Tigers were second to Taylor but had to settle for fifth place with their 39 points.

West Orange-Stark used its prowess in the running events to speed past the competition for 73 points and the regional championship.

The regional scoresheet had a distinctive District 24-3A flavor to it.

Tatum was second with 60 points, followed by Taylor at 44, just ahead of Cameron’s 42 and then Rockdale.

Of course, 36 of Taylor’s points came courtesy of standout Mark Jackson, who qualified for regional in five events, placing in four.

Jackson was stunned in the 100-meter dash after finishing third, but won the high jump at 6-foot-8, the long jump at 22-9 and in his specialty the triple jump at 51-0.5.

He did not make it out of the preliminaries in the 400.

Jackson is the nation’s top triple jumper and has singed to run track at the University of Texas.

Senior Brittany Frei, fresh off setting a new school record in the high jump (5-4) at the district meet, turned in the highest finish for the Lady Tigers by tieing for fourth place with a 5-foot leap.

Senior Emily Ammon scored points for Rockdale by placing fifth in the 800-meter run in her only regional appearance.

Sarah Brinkley was fifth in the discus after improving her measurement by six feet and was also ninth in the shot put.

On the girls side, Rockdale tallied 6 1/3 points for 20th place.

Waco Connally easily captured the girls division, outdistancing runner-up Longview Spring Hill 114-76.

Cameron was fifth with 43 points.

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