Before Friday’s District 1-5A championship meet at Haughton High School, Parkway coach Kent Falting tallied expected points based on preliminary seedings.
Falting’s calculations showed Parkway’s girls team losing by six points.
The Lady Panthers didn’t play along. Instead, they exceeded expectations to win with 152 points, 8.5 ahead of second-place Byrd.
“It’s been very nerve-wracking, and no lead is safe,” said Falting, who led Parkway’s girls team to its first district championship in five years. “We were up 40 coming out of the field events and then turn around with two events to go, and we’re down by one to Byrd. It was definitely exciting. This is the first district championship for Parkway at the 5A level, so it’s a big deal for us.”
Airline’s boys team won easily, with 43.5 points more than second-place Haughton, to stay unbeaten in meets in the outdoor season.
“This is what we’ve been working for, but we tried not to put too much pressure on them this week,” Airline coach Scott Reeder said. “I just told them, ‘Go out, compete, and score points for yourselves, your teammates and your school.’ And they did it. Our hurdlers came through. We have great kids, and that makes it easy to coach.”
Parkway’s girls wrapped up the district title in the second-to-last race of the day, the 3,200-meter run. Alison Ringle took first place with a time of 12:02. The battle for second was just as important. Parkway’s Jayni Wilcher knew she needed to finish second to put the championship away. She responded with a time of 12:33.46 that left her wobbling after.
“I fell down pretty hard after,” said Wilcher, who held off Byrd’s Lindsey Humphrey (13:00.38) to put Parkway up by 10.5 points with one event left. “I just fell out, because I ran so hard. I knew if I finished second, we would win. I really wanted to go to regionals. I knew how important it was, so I went out and ran as hard as I could.”
Airline’s Cameron Rice helped give the Vikings a large lead early by winning the triple jump (44-foot-8), the high jump (6-foot-8) and placing second in the long jump (22-foot-8).
“We’ve had great concentration and have been focused in our practices,” Rice said. “I’ve had a muscle strain in my jumping leg, but I’m going to fight through it, and I’m excited go back to regionals.”
In one of the most exciting races of the day, Airline’s Jaquvis Hart took first in the 400-meter dash, edging Parkway’s Cory Hamilton 48.6 seconds to 48.6. In addition to winning the 3,200-meter run, Ringle also took first in the 800- and 1,600-meter run.
The 5A regional meet is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at Lee Hedges Stadium.