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During an interview three weeks ago, Paris High senior Josh Reynolds made a bold prediction about the Wildcats’ track season. “I’m taking my boys back to state in the 4 by 1, 4 by 2, and I’m gonna go in the 200,” he said.
It may have seemed overly boastful at the time. The Cats finished a dreadful fourth place in the 4×100 meter relay at the District 13-3A track meet, barely qualifying to advance to last week’s area meet. They were second at district in the 4×200 relay, an event they won at last year’s state meet in Class 3A record-setting fashion.
And, individually, Reynolds had been having a nondescript year in his specialty event: The 200 meters. On his home track at the Deon Minor Wildcat Relays, he was easily defeated by Mount Pleasant’s KD Cannon.
But all that was past, and long forgotten, history as Reynolds and his relay boys made good on two-third’s of his forecast and came within a photo finish of fulfilling a clean sweep of the three sprinting events at Saturday’s Region 2-3A Track and Field Championships at Texas A&M-Commerce.
First, the Cats’ foursome of Kenny Mason, Leo Gutierrez, Za King, and Reynolds booked their trip to Austin and the state championships on May 10 by winning the 4×100 relay in 42.51. Gilmer was second in 42.66.
That race figured to be a tight final with the top four qualifying teams (Celina, Gilmer, Paris, and Atlanta) posting prelim times within .04 of each other. Unlike last week’s area race (which Paris also won), Reynolds started his anchor leg even with the other leaders. It was no contest down the stretch as the only remaining member of last year’s record-setting foursome made optimum use of his long-legged strides.
The top two finishers in each event win automatic bids to state.
Next came the 4×200 relay, which figured to be an even more wide-open affair, with all eight qualifiers within .66 second in prelim times. It didn’t disappoint.
Liberty-Eylau had a sizable lead down the final 100 meters, while the Paris team of King, Gutierrez, Jordan Sanders, and Reynolds was in sixth place. Again, the long-legged Reynolds made up for lost time, and it was a photo finish among five squads: Celina, Sanger, Wilmer-Hutchins, Paris, and L-E.
The outcome was left in doubt for another hour while other races were contested. In fact, Reynolds had time to hold off his main rival, Princeton’s Jourdan Blake, to win the individual 200 meters, 21.28 to 21.37, before meet officials finally called the top three finishers in the relay to the podium to accept their medals.
Celina, Sanger, and Wilmer-Hutchins got the call, which made it official: Paris would not be returning to Austin in two weeks to try to defend its 4×200 relay title. The Cats were awarded fourth in a race where the top 5 finishers were within .04 second of each other.
It left a sour damper on an otherwise outstanding meet for the Paris track team which finished seventh overall in boys team totals. Track power Celina won the boys team trophy, while Frisco Lone Star was the girls winner.
The Lady Cats had just one entry in Saturday’s finals (an 8th-place finish by the sprint relay team), but they had a good day Friday in the field events and will be sending senior Nish Robins to Austin after she surprised the field to win discus.