Lonoke’s Lady Jackrabbits finished third in the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships at Paragould last week — the best finish in Angela Watson’s five-year tenure atop the program.
Juniors Gracie Hyde and Keiunna Walker combined to win three individual state titles. Hyde, the Class 4A cross country champion, swept the 800 and 1,600, defending the championships she won for Brookland last year. She ran the 800 in 2:19.65 and the 1,600 in 5:28.07. She also finished second in the 3,200 (12:26.18).
Walker won the triple jump, going 36-3. She tied for second in the high jump at 5-0 and took third in the long jump at 16-2.75.
“We performed as expected,” Watson said. “Gracie expected to come in first in the 800 and the mile. She was a little disappointed she only got second in the two-mile, but with the races all coming close together, she was just tired.”
In fact, Bekah Bostian of Prairie Grove, who won the 3,200 in 11:54.26, ran only that event.
“But Gracie still placed second,” Watson said.
Hyde qualified for Saturday’s Meet of Champions in the 800 and 1,600. She chose to focus on the 800 at Russellville High School.
The Meet of Champs brings together the champions from each of the seven state meets plus the next three best overall performances.
“I knew I was running multiple events, so I would run behind the first couple of laps and then the last 300 meters was when I would sprint out,” Hyde said of her strategy for the state meet. “It was definitely a lot easier this year than last year.”
Last year she ran both the 800 and 1,600 at the Meet of Champs and took fourth in each. This time, she said, she would strategize.
“I think I have a really good shot at winning the 800,” she said. “I was ranked No. 1 in the state in that event most of the season until recently.”
Walker qualified for the Meet of Champs by winning the triple jump but decided not to compete, Watson said.
“Placing first in the triple jump was a surprise for her,” Watson said. “That is not her best event. She was very close to placing first in the high jump, which is her favorite event.”
The winning high jump was 5-1 by Jaylynn Hampton of Crossett.
Lonoke senior Steven Barrett finished fourth in the discus with a throw of 131-5. He was the only Jackrabbit to qualify for state after winning the event at the 2-4A conference meet by throwing 118 feet.
“That was his personal best, and it was great to see him go out like that,” Jackrabbit coach Taggart Moore said. “He’s a great kid who’s worked hard. He started out as a sprinter for us but he gained a lot of weight, muscle and strength through football, so he decided to throw. He was our only thrower the last two years. But he practiced every day and did a great job.”
Barrett was a two-time conference discus champion, but this season was his first to place at state.