It was the Mustangs’ meet from the beginning
At 5:45 p.m. in Mike Meyers Stadium, the UIL honored Head Track Coach Toby Foreman as the 2010 State Coach of the Year for Boys Track and Field. Less than 30 minutes later, his 4x100m relay team broke the state record, running a blazing 40.89. But they weren’t finished for the night. The team of junior Justin Thomas and seniors Phillip Jones, Mark Roberts and Ed Ivory and sophomore Colin Janice had other things planned-to bring home a third state championship for Foreman.
Jones’ race was up next-the 110m hurdles. Although he’s always fought off adversity in this race, running with only one shoe, jumping hurdles knocked in his way and even being cleated, he wasn’t able to fight off the “false start” that disqualified him from “his” race. He left the field with an undecipherable look and no one knew what would happen in his last race of the day, the 4x200m relay.
Meanwhile, Ivory lined up for the 100m and pulled out third in a very tight race with a 10.65. (the first place time was 10.61 and second was 10.62)
As the boys took the field for the 4x200m relay about 7:35 p.m., the stadium almost shook with anticipation. Roberts started the race strong handing off to Ivory. Ivory continued the pace before handing off to Thomas. When Thomas got the baton, the real picture began to come into focus. However, the handoff to Jones was perfect and within 50m, there was no doubt to all watching that the Mustangs would claim the gold. The icing on the cake came when Jones looked at the scoreboard after crossing the finish line and saw that his team had set yet another state record at 1.25.86, breaking the one set in 2003 by Atlanta at 1.25.89.
“When we had the malfunction with Phillip, the guys were able to refocus,” Foreman said. “They raised their level of competition and were able to set a new record, something I’ve been trying to do for several years. Their hand-offs on both races were executed perfectly, another key to winning the race.”
At this point, the Mustangs were at the top with 46 points, but Celina was nipping at their heels with 38. With only two races to run against Celina’s one race and one relay, Thomas and Janice knew that the team was depending on them.
Janice lined up in lane nine for the 400m race, coming in with the third fastest time. However, in the back of his mind, as he stretched out into the blocks, he could hear Foreman telling him that he had to run, he didn’t have to win, but he needed to get second. He also knew that the odds were against him. He was a sophomore, running against seniors and, in lane nine at that. When the gun went off, he took off. Janice held his ground and when he rounded the last curve, he began to make his move. In the last 100m, he pulled from sixth to second and posted his personal best at 48.76.
With one race left for the Mustangs, Thomas’ 200m, Celina’s 300m hurdler lined up to run. The Mustang fans breathed a sigh of relief when he stumbled at the turn and eventually earned no points for his team.
Thomas was up next and settled into the blocks before bolting out as the gun sounded. There was no doubt in the fans minds who was in first, most of the race, until right at the finish line when it appeared that Cuero nipped Thomas at the finish. However, when the posting came up on the screen, Thomas had earned the gold, running a 21.29 over Cuero’s 21.34. The point total stood at 64-38 and no matter what, Celina, or anyone else for that matter, could beat the Mustangs.
As WO-S fans gathered around the awards stand to wait for the team award, Thomas sat on the ledge to catch his breath. All of a sudden, he pulled a wallet size picture of Reggie out of the bottom of his tights.
“We just won this for Reggie,” Thomas said, as he gave one of his signature grins.
According to Foreman, just before the 4x200m relay, he gathered his team of five and told them that this was Reggie’s meet. They needed to run this one for him.
“He’s here watching and he’ll be at the finish line when you cross,” he said. “Run this last race for him.”
Then he gave them all a wallet-sized print to tuck into their tights before they ran. If that wasn’t motivation enough, all they had to do was look into the crowd and see all of the white signs with navy “112%” written on them.
This state championship was something even more special than three in a row, a “three-peat.” It was run and won for Reggie.
“At the beginning of track season, we had a lot to overcome,” Foreman said. “We had a lot of injuries to overcome, even up to state. But we were able to accomplish our goal, to set new records and win state for the third time.”
Although they had obstacles, it was the first time for Foreman that he was so deep with talent. At the district level, he had three competitors in most every event, with 23 boys competing, and also a full slate for the JV track team with 25.
“Even though we only had five compete at the state level like last year, the depth helped us with having more events to compete at the regional level and then more at the state level,” Foreman said. “We were able to keep our relays intact and still compete in four other events, and really be competitive.”
While it will be hard to say goodbye to the three seniors, Thomas, Roberts and Jones, it is more difficult to say good bye to Coach Toby Foreman as he will take a similar job at Texas High in Texarkana. At his time at WO-S, he has amassed three straight AAA state titles, four Region III titles and three district titles. He will begin his duties there on July 1.