NEW CHAPEL HILL - MyKaela Alfred crossed the finish line unsure of her final standing at the Class 4A Region II track meet on April 29.
She had worked from fourth into a dead heat for second and the final berth to state in the 100-meter hurdles.
“I had to look at the board and once I saw my name pop up I got so excited,” Alfred said. “I was excited because I felt like I’ve worked really hard all year and it paid off in that very moment.”
Alfred, a senior at Chapel Hill, is heading to the Class 4A state track and field championships on Saturday at Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium.
But she won’t be alone.
Shortly after Alfred booked her trip to Austin, fellow Chapel Hill senior Malik Sellers did the same, also finishing second in the 110 hurdles.
“It feels great,” Sellers said. “Both of our best hurdle athletes in Chapel Hill get to qualify for state and show our school name and run for it.”
Added Alfred: “It feels a lot better than going by myself. ... It’s great to have a teammate go, too.”
Both Alfred and Sellers will compete during the final Saturday evening session alongside the Class 6A running events.
“It’s going to be packed,” Alfred said. “It’s going to be a big crowd. I don’t think it’s going to make me nervous, I think it’s going to push me.”
Sellers’ regional race didn’t have quite as thrilling of a finish, but that didn’t matter much to him.
Sellers turned in a time of 14.65 seconds, behind first-place Grayson Grisso (Aubrey) at 14.45 and with a little wiggle room ahead of third-place Peyton Martinez (Sanger) at 14.73.
“I was very excited for it,” Sellers said of making state. “I couldn’t believe it but it felt spectacular.”
Sellers became a hurdler when, in seventh grade, he struggled in all the other events before his coach asked if he wanted to try hurdles.
He soon found out he was good at it and has steadily improved his speed and, importantly, his flexibility to easily glide over hurdles.
“Freshman year I had bad flexibility but over time I started stretching when I get home, watch a TV show and start stretching,” Sellers said. “It started getting better and better each year.”
Now Sellers is among the top in the state.
His seed time is sixth best out of nine entrants, with Bushland’s Remington Crossnoe owning the time to beat of 14.04.
Alfred also has the sixth-best seed in the state. Not that it’s stopping her from predicting a top-three finish.
“Right now I’m coming in sixth, but that’s not going to happen,” Alfred said. “I’m planning to get on that podium.”
Alfred finished her regional race second behind Carthage’s Chloe Neuman, who finished in 15.05. Alfred’s time of 15.38 narrowly edged Maci Martin of Celina by 0.01 seconds, though Martin also ended up going to state as the top third-place finisher in the state.
Alfred is also a standout basketball player for the Lady Bulldogs, leading her team in scoring on the way to being named all state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association.
She runs 300 hurdles and does high jump, but 100 hurdles has been her best event.
“I’m not really conditioned enough to run 300, and 100 I’m pretty quick to just run through the hurdles,” Alfred said.
Both Alfred and Sellers will graduate May 19, a week after competing at the highest level in high school.
While both will be shooting for the podium, they’ve already earned one of the top graduation presents imaginable with the trip to the state track meet.
“Nothing can beat this,” Alfred said. “This has been the best senior year.”