The Pleasanton track teams had a solid showing at the District 27-4A meet in Cuero on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Eagles and Lady Eagles will be sending a total of 22 runners to the area meet in Wimberley on Thursday, April 15. The Lady Eagles are sending 11 total athletes, including their 400- and 800-meter relay teams. They will also have five athletes competing in multiple events at the area meet.
The Eagles are sending a total of 11 athletes to the area meet, including all of their relay teams and five athletes competing in three or more events. Pleasanton had five of the top seven scoring athletes in Este’van Jackson, Jayden Palacios, Ashon Thompson, Juan Lopez and Sean Ramos.
“It’s huge for them to come out and perform like that,” Eagles Head Coach Rudy Franco said. “I’ve known since they were in junior high how special these guys are. I was extremely excited to get them all back this year. This group is special and it’s going to create a buzz that’s going to last a long time.”
The Eagles finished third in the team standings with 163 points, 17 behind district winner Cuero. The Lady Eagles finished fifth with a total of 80 points.
Freshmen shine at first district meet
A pair of freshmen delivered the first individual district titles of the meet for the Eagles.
Preston Pilgrim was the first, claiming the pole vault title over Cuero’s Kalan Malandrakis. Pilgrim vaulted to a winning height of 13-feet, matching his personal record set the previous week at the Devine meet.
“It felt great,” Pilgrim said. “When I woke up this morning, I didn’t think I was going to do this.”
Pilgrim wasn’t charged with a miss until after matching his PR. After hitting 13-feet a week ago, Pilgrim was very comfortable attempting to break it at 13-3.
“It gave me a bunch of confidence,” Pilgrim said. “Getting up there really helped.”
Jayden Palacios brought home a pair of district titles in the 400-meter dash and the 800-meter run.
Palacios ran 51.899 in the 400 to win by 1.151 seconds. He won the 800 with a time of 2:07.592, narrowly edging out La Vernia’s Tyler Mills by eight-tenths of a second.
As Palacios and Mills rounded the final turn in the 800, Pleasanton’s freshman used a mental push to see him across the finish line.
“I just had to do it for the team,” Palacios said. “We’re out here to compete. We’re out here to win. That’s all we’re trying to do.”
Palacios was one of three Eagles to qualify for the area meet in the 800. Reagan Moore (2:11.19) finished third and Averee Cantu (2:11.461) finished fourth.
“That’s a very big accomplishment,” Palacios said. “We all work very hard in practice. The coaches push us hard. We’re always working our butts off. That’s what we came here for.”
Distance runners spur Lady Eagles to area
The Lady Eagles got big days from their distance runners.
Pleasanton will have a runner in each the 800- , 1600- and 3200-meter runs.
Caitlyn Nieschwitz finished second in the 800 and 1600. In the 1600, Nieschwitz’s time of 5:46.398 beat area-qualifying teammates Kassidy Vickers (5:51.907) and Lindsey Klein (5:55.022) in third and fourth place. All three runners turned in PRs to reach the area meet.
Vickers also qualified in the 3200-meter run with a second place time of 12:34.32.
“It’s great,” Lady Eagles Head Coach Mike Wood said. “All three of those girls had their best time tonight. That’s going to lead us in the area meet against … Fredericksburg, Canyon Lake and them. [The girls] are hitting at the right time and the right speed, so we’ll be ready for area.”
Setting new PRs was a trend for the Lady Eagles at the district meet.
Junior Jillian Barcomb used a personal best time of 51.06 to finish second in the 300-meter hurdles and advance to the area meet. Freshman Ciarah Garcia jumped 32-feet-8.5- inches in the triple jump to set a new personal best and advance to area as the fourth place finisher.
“[Jillian] ran her best time at the most important moment. That was fantastic,” Wood said. “It gives us a lot of momentum. We had … Ciarah jump her best jump in triple jump. Everybody is hitting just right. We’ve got the area meet and hopefully we keep going and get to regionals.”
Eagle relay teams dominate
Pleasanton had a dominant day in the relay races.
Of a possible six qualifying opportunities, both the Eagles and Lady Eagles will send a total of five relay teams to the area meet.
The Lady Eagles 400-meter relay (Angel Tucker, Itzel
Perez, Kiley Wiechring, Emree Adamitz) and 800-meter relay (Tucker, Wiechring, Victoria Castillo, Kinsley Barker) each placed fourth to qualify for the area meet.
The Eagles’ 800-meter relay team (Thompson, Ramos, Jackson, Lopez) took first place with a time of 1:31.095.
Dealing with a gusting wind on the backstretch added a layer of difficulty to the race for Jackson and Lopez.
“It made it really difficult,” Jackson said. “I just had to keep my focus. Before the race, I prayed to God. I was like, ‘Lord, please help us run this race, help my team.’ Just give God all the glory, because, without Him, we wouldn’t win first place.”
Pleasanton’s 1600-meter relay team (Palacios, Jackson, Ramos, Lopez) almost had a catastrophic final exchange before winning the event with a time of 3:31.321.
The official organizing the handoffs had the final legs for Cuero and Pleasanton out of order at the exchange zone. Pleasanton had just passed Cuero on the frontstretch, but Cuero’s anchor leg was still in front of Palacios, the Eagles’ anchor.
Jackson and Palacios were able to complete the handoff, but not before bobbling the baton and questioning if they were going to be disqualified.
“It happens, but there’s nothing we really could do about it. It’s in the past,” Palacios said. “Luckily, we didn’t get [disqualified]. The official said it was on him, so it’s all good.”
The mixup at the exchange zone let Cuero get out in front for a brief moment. Palacios was able to put any doubt out of his mind by the end of the first turn and finished 1.45 seconds ahead of Cuero.
“I came around the curve and threw it away, just did what I had to do and caught up to [Cuero],” Palacios said.”
Pleasanton’s 400-meter relay team (Jackson, Ramos, Lopez, Christian Zapata) finished second with a time of 45.508 to qualify for area as well.
Thompson sweeps sprints
Thompson swept the two sprint races he was in.
The senior sprinter won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.693 and the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.302 to advance to area.
It was just another day in the office for Thompson, who has yet to lose a race in the 100 or 200 this season.
“It feels really good to do this at my first district meet,” Thompson said. “It feels really good to get out here and show everyone what I came here for.”
The two individual wins coupled with Thompson’s anchor leg performance in the 800-meter relay was a sweet sight to his coach. Franco wants Thompson to have every opportunity to make it to the state meet in his senior season.
“Starting out the year, I explained what we needed from him and he’s stepped up big time,” Franco said. “He started the year running the 4×100, anchoring that. I told him once we got into district, I was gonna give him as many chances to get to state as possible. … He showed what he has today.”
3200-meter: Kassidy Vickers
1600-meter: Caitlyn Nieschwitz, Kassidy Vickers,
800-meter: Caitlyn Nieschwitz
4×100 relay: Angel Tucker, Itzel
Perez, Kiley Wiechring, Emree
4×200 relay: Angel Tucker, Kiley
Wiechring, Victoria Castillo,
300 hurdles: Jillian Barcomb
High jump: Victoria Castillo
Triple jump: Ciarah Garcia
800-meter: Jayden Palacios,
Reagan Moore, Averee Cantu
400-meter: Jayden Palacios
200-meter: Ashon Thompson
100-meter: Ashon Thompson
4×100 relay: Este’van Jackson,
Sean Ramos, Juan Lopez, Christian Zapata
4×200 relay: Ashon Thompson,
Sean Ramos, Este’van Jackson,
4×400 relay: Jayden Palacios,
Este’van Jackson, Sean Ramos,
110 hurdles: Justin Veale
300 hurdles: Justin Veale
Pole vault: Preston Pilgrim,
Long jump: Juan Lopez, Sean
Ramos, Este’van Jackson
Triple Jump: Juan Lopez,