AUSTIN — Before the race began there was a little bit of nerves for the competitors. But once Levi Jones took off, he was ready to make sure he was in mix after getting to state in his last try.
The Van Alstyne senior broke near the front early and captured the bronze medal in the Class 4A 400-meter dash with a time of 48.99 seconds at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a great experience as a senior, to go out with a bang,” Jones said.
There was an edge at the start when Wall’s Holden Stoute, who was fifth last year, had a false start. Once the field was off and running, Jones got a sense of what he was doing as he circled the track.
“I felt the crowd yelling and was like, ‘Whoa,’” Jones said. “Great atmosphere.”
Will Anderson of East Bernard won the event with a time of 48.00. Anderson finished sixth at the 2016 state meet.
Jones, who went into the race at the Mike A. Myers track stadium seeded fifth, was in a battle with Coleman’s Bryson Hammonds and Jewett Leon’s Cash Crane as the three seniors all sniffed a medal in their final race.
“We came up that final 100 all together,” Jones said. “I felt really good about where I finished. My strides weren’t perfect but I thought it was good enough.”
Hammonds came up with the silver at 48.99 seconds, and Jones finished a few strides ahead of Crane at 49.86 seconds for that last, coveted spot on the podium.
Jones had captured the Region II title with a time of 49.61 seconds to qualify for state and did just a hair better to earn that bronze medal.
“It was a dream,” said Jones, who then served as the anchor on Van Alstyne’s sixth-place mile relay. “You put everything into it and I’m able to say I made it to state. You’ve got to put in the work to make it. You don’t just get there.”
Freshman Sydney Ingram got to experience the state meet excitement and she finished seventh in the class 3-A 100-meter hurdles.
Sophomore Emme Fernandez ran a 49.92 in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing ninth.
This was the largest contingent of track athletes from Van Alstyne to qualify for the state meet, and Jones’ medal a rare feat for a Panther runner.
Van Alstyne Leader freelance writer Jack Walker contributed to this report.