Tigers get a taste of state meet

By Tim Emmons

Linden-Kildare ISD is a school district built on pride, tradition and excellence.
The Tigers’ track program had plenty of bright spots throughout the season, but the one which stood out most was the boys’ first district championship since 1982. 
That encouraging victory led to a state berth a few weeks later in which the Tigers finished ninth overall and brought home some shiny hardware.
L-K alum and head coach Greg Gaston had this to say about the amazing circumstance:
“I’m from here and I’ve been able to experience some of the same triumphs these guys had,” Gaston said. “I knew each one of them had the potential to be great and it was hard to get them to see that at first, but as the season progressed they started to see what I was trying to tell them.”
After the big district win L-K advanced athletes to the regional round in the high jump, triple jump, long jump, 100m dash, 200m dash, the 4x100m relay and the 4x200m relay.
As the process goes the top four in district and area qualify for the next round respectively, but only the top two in the regional meet make it to state.
“I knew going into the regional meet we needed to push ourselves harder to get to the big stage,” Gaston remarked. “I preached to them daily about how pushing just a little harder can produce positive results. I had to get them to see the big picture.”
Coach Gaston can look back and be proud of the fact that his preaching wasn’t falling on deaf ears.
“After we won district we placed third at area, was regional runner-up and placed ninth at state where the competition is intense,” Gaston said. “I am very proud of this group and I’m excited for what the future holds for our track program. I’m hoping kids see it can be done and come out for track next season.”
As far as the pressure to perform well at regionals, each Tiger athlete had their own variation.
“I was a little nervous but I knew I had to perform well to make it to state,” Cortez Peterson said.
Ja’Kevian Rose echoed Peterson’s statement about nervousness but that’s expected when the competition is tougher.
“There is always pressure to perform your best when the competition is good and you have a small window to get through,” Marcus Jones said. “We have a great coach who prepared us well for that moment.”
“I was fine with the pressure,” Micah Harrison said. “I have been through plenty of situations where pressure was present.”
At the 2A Track & Field State Championship, Jones broke his own school record in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 1 inch and won a gold medal in the process. 
Rose competed in the Triple Jump Friday placing fifth with a jump of 44 feet, 3 1/2 inches, teammate Ty Patterson competed in the high jump and placed ninth with a jump of 5 feet, 10 inches, and Jones also competed in the 200, placing seventh with a time of 22.94. 
Before the team left Austin the 4x200m relay team of Jones, Harrison, Rose and Peterson placed second at 1:28.60 which earned the quartet a silver medal.
The guys talked about their performance at state.
“It was a blessing to reach the state level and being the anchor leg I felt all eyes were on me, but that didn’t affect me or how I ran,” Harrison said.
“It felt good to win a medal at state,” Jones stated. “We had been first or second all year in those categories. We had a great coach that pushes us to do our best also.”
“My adrenaline was up which pushed me to do my best to catch up or stay ahead,” Rose said.
“I didn’t feel any pressure with thousands of people watching because I knew I had to do my part,” Peterson said.
With the memorable season in the books only Rose will return of the four, and he already has a goal set for that time.
“I’m going to work hard, get better and I’m going to win first next season,” Rose said.
As for the three seniors they left parting words for the underclassmen coming up, and their teammates on varsity who will return.
“If I say anything it is to keep grinding, stay focused and stay out of trouble,” Peterson remarked.
“You have to stay true to the process because hard work truly pays off,” Jones replied.
“Work hard in practice,” Harrison said. “And when your body says no let your heart say yes.”
With that said there’s no doubt that this group of athletes and their coach endured through hardships and followed their heart to state.

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