After a decade and a half of district championships, the Bishop Gorman girls track and field program finished second at the 2011 TAPPS 2-4A meet.
Now they’re back looking to retake what has long been theirs.
“Hopefully we can get our district title back,” Lady Crusaders junior Maddie Raney said.
The TAPPS 2-4A meet returns to McCallum Stadium on Thursday with a field full of contenders, including the defending boys champion Grace Community.
Field events begin at 10 a.m. with the running finals scheduled for 1 p.m.
Bishop Gorman, under the leadership of coach Rev. Jerome Milton, had become accustomed to league titles until district newcomer Waco Reicher took a narrow victory in the girls team standings last year, the first time in 15 years the Lady Crusaders failed to win their district.
Despite having a young team — 70 percent of the athletes on both the girls and boys teams are freshmen and sophomores — Bishop Gorman is looking for a quick return to the top.
“Our girls, since we lost it last year in the 4x400, it has been their mission, it is their passion, it is their vision to uphold the legacy of this program,” Milton said.
Leading the way for the Lady Crusaders will be senior Hannah Frossard (1,600-meter run, 800) and Raney (4x100-meter relay, 4x200, 200). Frossard said this team aimed toward more points in more events as opposed to being stacked in the relays like last year.
Grady Frazier (3,200, 1,600) and Caleb Williams (4x100, 4x200, 100, long jump, high jump) headline the Crusaders roster. Frazier set a school record in the mile and won’t expect heavy competition until he gets to the state meet, where he finished fourth in the 1,600 and sixth in the 3,200.
“I’m going to try to see if I can get a faster time in the mile and just kind of cruise in the 2 mile,” Frazier said.
The top four finishers in each event qualify for the TAPPS 4A North Region meet in Carrollton (Prince of Peace HS) on April 19.
Others from Bishop Gorman expected to compete for spots at regionals include Lakesha Milton in the field and hurdles, Kimi Prevost (shot put, discus), Meredith Buzbee (pole vault), Monica Hand (100) on the girls side and Taylor Hurst on the boys side.
Milton said the competition, which could be won by any of four teams, could be decided in the 4x400 relay. Running the event for the Lady Crusaders will be Kelly Frossard, Emma Pittman, Demi Darr and Ashton Kemp while Jeremy Obach, Noah Kemp, Patrick Cunningham and Conrad Flowers will run it for the Crusaders.
The Cougars won their first district title in 2011 and will look to build upon that this year, though the team is battling health setbacks across the board.
Grace senior Keaton Yeatts will hope to repeat his performance last year, when he scored 22 points to tie for the top individual scorer. Yeatts competes in the hurdles and high jump.
Senior Grant Childress and sophomore Kade Clayton are capable of putting up points but both will have to overcome leg injuries. Clayton, who tied Frazier as the fourth-top scorer in last year’s meet, is fresh off setting a meet record in the 110-meter hurdles at Lindale’s Blackberry Relays, though his leg is a bit tender, coach Mike Maddox said. Childress, a future Division I receiver, is nursing a sore ankle.
Junior Garrett Newman can give Grace a boost if he’s able to compete in the 4x100 as he works to get back to full strength. Newman was tied with Yeatts’ 22 points last year.
“We’re encouraged that he might anchor our sprint relay,” Maddox said. “It’s encouraging to have him back.”
The Lady Cougars are also looking for a big day after they were leading at the East Texas Private School Championship before the event was called.
The Grace girls will be led by Sydney Sumpter, Mikaila Massenburge and Lexi Trimble in the hurdles, Catherine Rook and Emma Yeatts in the jumps and the 4x100 relay team, which won the ETPSC with the foursome of Trimble, Rilee Miller, Madison Newman and Whitney Bane.
“I’m just proud of their work habits all year long,” Maddox said of his teams. “We’re slowly trying to build a solid track program.”
All Saints will be without star runner Jennifer Johnson, who compiled 38 of her team’s 62 points at last year’s TAPPS 2-4A meet, but the Lady Trojans hope to qualify 100 percent of their competitors.
With Johnson having graduated, only two girls are currently on the Lady Trojans squad, both with realistic chances to return to regionals.
Senior Jasmine Owens will compete in the 400 and 800, two events she won at last year’s district meet, and will hope to return to regionals for the fourth straight year.
Senior Rachel Yates took fourth in pole vault last year and will also run the 800.
Without Johnson to lean on, All Saints coach Cristy O’Bannon said the team has a new approach.
“It’s opened the door for a different mindset,” O’Bannon said. “This year the kids know they’re going to have to work at it.
“They think, ‘If I push and really work and improve my times, then I have a shot (to qualify).’”
Taylor Ball is the only returnee on the boys team who qualified last year. Ball will look to repeat his victory in the 800 while also attempting to qualify in the 4x400 relay, which he’ll run with his brother, Spencer.