AUSTIN — The people screaming from the stands didn’t bother New Deal freshman Jordan Menton, and they only boosted Seagraves senior Damian Vidales.
Menton made a remarkable debut at the Class 1A state track and field meet, winning the girls high jump and triple jump and finishing third in the 100-meter hurdles over two days. Vidales scored one gold medal, one silver, one bronze — and nearly a state meet record when he highlighted a Saturday afternoon’s work by routing the field in the 400 meters.
“I felt I was going to come out here and run the usual, a 48,” said Vidales, whose time was 47.68 seconds, 0.19 off the record. “I guess it was just adrenaline, having all these people yelling for you and screaming.”
Menton just turned 15 on April 19. But from the moment she won the high jump in a light rain Friday night, she treated the state meet as if it were just like one back home. Never mind there were 17,963 fans Friday evening at Mike A. Myers Stadium and 15,312 for Saturday’s day-time session.
“I came down here really nervous,” she said, “but after my first jump, it all went away.”
As in, the first high jump Friday night or the first triple jump Saturday morning?
“Pretty much everything,” Menton said. “After I went over the first hurdle, my nerves went away. The first thing I did, all my nerves disappeared.”
Menton helped New Deal place fifth in the 1A girls division with 37 points. She scored 26 in solo events and anchored a fourth-place finish in the sprint relay, which accounted for another eight.
Menton triple jumped 39 feet, 1/4 inch and decided to shoot for the 1A state-meet record in that event next year. She’ll need nearly 2 feet farther to do that. Her 100 hurdles time was 15.11.
“She’s a good little worker,” New Deal coach Dewayne Sexton said. “She’s had an outstanding year. She was pretty big-eyed, but she did well in the jumping events, and she anchored our sprint relay, and we tied our school record and ran our best time of the year. She’s going to just keep getting better.”
While Menton showed what’s to come, other South Plains athletes finished their careers with a flourish Saturday, none more so than Vidales. In addition to winning the 400, Seagraves’ 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior, got second in the 200 in 21.83 and ran third in the 100 in 10.83. Texas Tech football signee Reginald Davis won the 100 in 10.72, but Vidales beat Davis in the 200.
Vidales used a strong last curve and straightaway to make a run at the 1A state-meet record in the 400, a 47.49. Trent’s Albert Booker ran that in 2001, then went on to be all-Big 12 at Texas Tech and an all-American on Tech mile relays.
In three years, Vidales won five medals at state, but Saturday was his first victory.
“It feels good to finally have a gold medal around my neck,” he said.
Tahoka senior Brittney Liggins was gleeful over her silver in the 1A girls 300 hurdles, running 44.99. After placing third at state last year, Liggins missed a couple of meets this season with a strained hamstring, then battled groin and knee problems all spring.
“I bawled my eyes out, because I didn’t think I was going to come back at all,” she said. “I thought I was done. My coach was like, ‘No. It’s not over with.’ That’s how I got through was the fact they were all (saying), ‘No, it’s not over. You’re not done yet.’”
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