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Normangee grabs two gold medals, Centerville wins boys 4x400 at 2A state track meet

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AUSTIN — Normangee’s Cassidy Bilsing and Izaha Jones and Centerville’s boys 4x400 relay team earned gold with dominating performances Friday night at the Class 2A UIL State Track & Field Meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

“Tonight it was a total team effort. They competed,” Centerville head track coach Rusty Robinson said. “Great atmosphere. I couldn’t be prouder of my kids.”

The Tigers grabbed the crowd’s attention after a dramatic fight to the finish as they battled alongside Refugio, which beat Centerville last year in the 4x400.

Centerville’s second-leg runner junior Brett Wagnon tripped as he made the handoff to sophomore Cade Smith, but Smith managed to put the Tigers in second place before handing off to anchor Kasen Jeitz, who kicked things into high gear to get Centerville in first. Jeitz, a senior, had to fight off a last-second surge by Refugio’s Jason Moore to secure the victory in 3 minutes, 20.24 seconds. Sophomore Andrew Newman led off the relay for Centerville.

Refugio finished in 3:21.09 for silver, and Beckville earned bronze in 3:22.66.

“All four of the boys really performed well,” Robinson said. “[Everyone except Jeitz] normally runs two events before that, so they got to run it fresh.”

Jeitz also earned two silver medals earlier in the 800 (1:58.65) and 400 (49.14). The senior was neck-and-neck with Hamilton’s Taylor Long in the 400 but a final push from Long put him inches ahead for the gold at 49.12.

Still, Jeitz was excited with his overall performance Friday.

“I feel amazing,” Jeitz said. “This is only my second year running track. I grew a lot from last year, and I was just going to try and go run two of my best races, and I felt like I did that.”

Normangee also racked up the medals with Bilsing and Jones earning gold in the 3,200 and long jump, respectively. Bilsing opened the day with a dominating performance, finishing in 11:27.20 to win the girls 3,200. She ended the night with a second-place finish in the 1,600 (5:17.11). Bilsing had a strong lead in the 1,600, but reigning champ Kyla Kane of Wellington came from behind in the final 200 meters and took first at 5:17.02.

“That was her best ever,” Normangee head girls coach Katie Lankford said of the 3,200, while giving credit to her husband and boys coach Quentin Lankford. “... They practiced her splits, and she was on it. It was on the spot.”

Jones defended his long jump title with a leap of 23 feet, 3.25 inches. The senior had a rocky start by scratching his first attempt but quickly recovered.

“It feel like I accomplished a lot, so I’m just glad to be back,” Jones said. “First jump started off rough, but we got it fixed, and consistency was the key today, just being able to hit the board five times back-to-back-to-back. We knew if we did that, the job was [done].”

Bremond’s girls 4x100 relay team of Josie Swick, Armiyah Castilleja, Messiah McGowan and D’Miyah Griffin finished second with the team’s personal record of 49.80.

“They have stayed fully committed to what their goal is going to be,” Bremond girls head track coach Emily Merritt said. “They knew as soon as they won regionals they had a statement to make when they got here, and they did it. They did it for themselves, for their senior, for me. I really am speechless.”

Griffin added another medal to her collection with a second-place finish in the 100 at 12.03.

Hearne’s Jabari Dunn also had stellar performances Friday. He earned a bronze medal in the 200 with a time of 22.07, finished fifth in the 400 (49.59) and helped the Eagles to a fourth-place finish and a school record in the 4x100 relay (42.41), joining teammates Keyshawn Langham, Damian Gunnels and Justavian Benford.

“It feels good,” Dunn said of his performance. “Hearne, we’re always doubted. We’re always the underdog, so it felt good to put Hearne on the map and come win a medal here.”

Normangee’s girls 4x100 relay team of Christina Witherspoon, Aubree McAllister, Addison Hill and Emily Walker came in fifth (50.61).

Hearne’s Jada Johnson placed seventh in the girls triple jump (35-11).

Refugio won the boys 2A team title with 77 points followed by Hamilton (47) and Marlin (42). Centerville placed sixth with 36 points, while Hearne tied for 10th with 14. Normangee tied for 14th with 10.

Haskell won the girls 2A team title with 60 points, while Panhandle took second at 58, and Eldorado was third at 38. Bremond tied for sixth at 24. Normangee finished 10th at 22.

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