12 May, 2022
HOUSTON - Jade Wiliams has always had the tendency to do everything quick.
When she was in middle school, a basketball evaluator said that her first step had a little bit of "turbo" in it. Since then, the nickname has stuck.
That quickness has now landed the Huffman sophomore at the 2022 UIL State Track & Field Meet in Austin on Thursday morning. Not just in one event but in three - the 4x200-meter relay, 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. Williams is the first girl in Huffman history to qualify for State in three different events.
"I feel excited and blessed to successfully execute what I’ve worked so hard for," Williams said. "I didn’t know I was the first, I just wanted to make it as far as I could in every event."
At the Regional Meet, Williams actually made it in four events (100-hurdles, 300-hurdles, long jump and 4x200) but was only going to compete in three.
The day started with the long jump.
Williams raced down the runway and launched herself through the air. Once she hit the sand she got up, they measured and called out her distance - 18 feet-6 1/2-inches. A new personal best by a whole foot.
The leap sent Williams to the Regional Championship and smashed a 40-year-old school record of 17-feet-11-inches.
"I had no clue I had jumped 18’-6 1/2”. When they called out the distance, my coaches reactions said it all," Williams said. "I prayed right before that jump and God carried me to where I needed to be."
Then it was time to hit the track for her running events.
At the Area Meet, she ran the 4x200 and felt exhausted for her 300-meter hurdle race making her "apprehensive about running the 4x200 at Regionals".
The sophomore decided to run.
"After long contemplation and prayer, I decided I didn’t want my teammates to miss out on the experience because of me," Williams said. "I knew it would be difficult, but if I really wanted to win the 300 hurdles, I’d make it happen, and I did. I’m glad I made that decision."
Williams ran the 4x200-meter relay along with Lexi Rousseau, Adyson Booth, and Lilly Sarbeck and finished as the Regional Champion (1:44.52).
She then went on to win the 300-meter hurdles (46.445) to punch her ticket to State in three different events. With her performance along with her teammates, Huffman girls track and field finished with 85 points and as the Region III-4A Champions at the end of April. The first-ever team Regional Championship in program history.
"It was totally unexpected and amazing to experience and share this accomplishment with my teammates," Williams said.
"Turbo" also plays basketball at Huffman and this past season she reached 1,000 career points already for the Falcons. Now, she will try and add some State gold to her accomplishments on Thursday.
"I still have a lot of work to do," Williams said. "I’m going work even harder these next two weeks. By [State], when the time comes, I’ll be more than ready!"
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Kaufman ISD Athletics
There are plenty of Texas high school baseball teams to keep your eyes on as the state tournament continues to creep closer. One of the teams representing the Dallas-Fort Worth area that fans are going to want to play close attention to is the Kaufman Lions. The Lions are slated to play a series against Kilgore in the area-round of playoffs this week. VYPE DFW dives into what fans can expect from this team.
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A Look Back
In the regular season, Kaufman posted a second place finish in their district with a district record of 6-2. The team was able to play strong against their opponents from preseason onward. Kaufman recorded several strong victories over the likes of Dallas Hillcrest, Dallas White, Terrell, Crandall, Quinlan Ford, and more as they worked to make a playoff appearance.
So far in playoffs, the Lions have been able to shut down Van with back-to-back 6-5 victories in the first round. The Lions have shown their ability to not only set the tone for the game, but regroup when they are down in order to force a victory. With defensive play that doesn't tend to have trouble matching their opponents' level of skill, the Lions might just be a dark horse in playoffs this season.
What To Expect:
Kilgore is a great team who has a defense that is unmatched in their area. With the ability to score often while shutting down their opponents from the mound, they might be one of the toughest opponents Kaufman has had to face all season. Kaufman, however, can match-up easily with a lineup that continues to fight even when hope seems lost. Fans can expect Kaufman and Kilgore to go head-to-head in what could very easily become a nail-biter.
Game one of the series is set to begin on Thursday, May 12 at Crandall with a first pitch time of 6:30 p.m. Game two will be played in Kilgore on Saturday at 5 p.m. Game three, if necessary, will immediately follow game two.
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Fort Bend Marshall’s girls track and field program is predicated upon work and sacrifice. That is its essence in its entirety.
Easier said than done for most but simply a way of life for the Buffalos.
The Lady Buffs are no strangers to the state track and field meet, having gone at least every year since second-year coach Shahira Ehiemua was dominating lanes on 1220 Buffalo Run in 2007, but they are at the top of their class these days. Marshall’s girls won their first team state championship last year and are a considerable favorite to repeat this weekend at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas.
“We know how it feels to win and we know we have a target on our back,” senior Tairah Johnson said. “We have to move accordingly. We never got comfortable and we’re working just as hard as we did last year.”
Marshall returned four of its five girls who led the state championship run last season.
There’s Johnson, who won individual golds at the Region III-5A meet two weeks ago in the 100-meter hurdles and long jump and ran the first and second legs of the champion 4x100 and 4x200 relays. Senior Cesley Williams is the defending 400-meter state champion. Senior Desirae Roberts qualified for state this year in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Senior Janai Williams anchored the 4x100 and 4x200 state champ relays last year.
“After winning state last year, that momentum carried on,” Ehiemua said. “They were already a mature group, but this year they’ve all only matured more. They individually have their own motivations pushing them to do even better this year, but collectively we have the same mindset of winning state and doing whatever it takes to do that.”
The Buffs’ excellence and standard start with Johnson. The North Carolina A&T signee has an irrepressible drive to be great.
Johnson had an impressive 2021. Not only did she bring home gold in the 100 hurdles at state last year, she won the Louisiana Governor’s Games and finished third at The Outdoor Nationals and USATF National Junior Olympics in the summer.
“Tairah is dominant,” Ehiemua said. “There’s no denying that. She’s so passionate about this sport. She wants to get better every day and knows the importance of drilling and practice. She’s always striving for the next goal.”
Fort Bend Marshall senior Tairah Johnson.VYPE Media
At regionals, Johnson won the 100 hurdles with a mark of 13.73 seconds and the long jump with a mark of 19’-11.50.” She got the 4x1 and 4x2 relays off to great starts.
Johnson has been running since the sixth grade and has always had an affinity for the hurdles.
“I just loved jumping over things, and I have long legs so I always had stride,” she said.
In her second year in the sport as a middle-schooler, Johnson was already breaking regional and national records. She said she’s better this year because of her commitment to the weight room.
“I’m finishing workouts better,” Johnson said. “I’m stronger at the end of races.”
Lloyd Banks, Marshall’s director of track and field operations who oversees the boys and girls programs, said Johnson is a “bull.”
“She does not stop working,” Banks said. “She is tedious. She makes you better as a coach.”
If the program’s culture was a person, Johnson would be its face.
She’s selfless almost to a fault, enjoying others’ success more than her own. She works tirelessly. She loves to compete. She runs as if competing with a chip on her shoulder.
It’s a gritty doggedness that permeates the entire program.
“As a whole, they’re a resilient group,” Banks said of Marshall’s girls team. “They’re tough. The biggest thing for us is letting everybody know that it’s not just the boys we’ve got going. It’s the girls, too. Every meet, they prove it.”
Banks has been director of track and field operations for the last three years. Prior to that, he led the Marshall boys program since 2010, leading them to team state championships in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Since 2015. Fort Bend Marshall's girls and boys track and field teams have won five state championships. Here they are pictured after sweeping the team championships at the Region III-5A track and field meet two weeks ago.Courtesy of Fort Bend Marshall
The Buffs’ success on the track, whether it’s the girls or boys, is no coincidence. Banks and his coaching staff have a meticulous plan for each kid’s individual and long-term success. Kids work hard and sacrifice because “we work our butts off for them when it comes down to scholarships,” Banks said.
Coaches plan out kids’ races before the season starts. Coaches stress a plan with kids on their primary and secondary races but emphasize versatility in events because it attracts colleges.
There is an open line of communication between coach and athlete. An athlete will never be thrown an event to compete in unexpectedly, and they always know why and when they will be competing.
‘The biggest thing is just having a plan for the kids. Period,” Banks said. “We sit down in December as a staff and take our top five kids, take care of their races, and then fill in everyone else after that and so on.”
During after-school practices, junior varsity boys are put in the same training group as varsity girls.
“Our girls are like, ‘I’m not losing to a JV boy.’ And our boys are like, ‘I’m not losing to a girl,’” Banks said. “They’re real battles. And it all makes us better.”
The top 40 boys and girls athletes are on the track during practices. Everyone else is on a back field. It fosters a competitive environment; Marshall’s own version of “survival of the fittest.”
No kid wants to be on the back field. If they buy in and work, they find themselves part of something much greater.
“We are all part of a legacy,” Janai Williams said. “Nothing I do would be possible without every track athlete that has come through Marshall. This is a legacy. Some of our athletes have been there and want more, and others want to be next in line.”
‘BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND’
No one understands that ethos more than Ehiemua. She starred for Marshall from 2008-2011.
“Coach E is great,” Johnson said. “We see it as we get to carry on her legacy. We see that if our coaches have done this, we have to do it, too. We know we have to keep going what they’ve done.”
Ehiemua still holds the program record in the 100-meter dash (11.7 seconds) and was part of the program record 4x100 relay (45.51 seconds).
“It makes a difference, because I’m more passionate about what I do because this is where my foundation was built,” said Ehiemua, who ran collegiately at SMU and UTSA. “I had to bleed that some blood and cry those same tears and sweat like they do on that same exact track. But this isn’t about what I did or what the school accomplished before. It’s about the girls we have now and how we can get them better.”
Fort Bend Marshall girls track and field coach Shahira Ehiemua.VYPE Media
Ehiemua knows she has a special group.
Johnson, she said, is “the ultimate dream of a coach. A walking talent.” She is proud of Roberts for adding the 100 hurdles this season and her initiative to avenge last year’s fourth-place finish at state in the 300 hurdles.
Ehiemua admires the mental toughness and positive disposition of Cesley Williams, a University of Houston signee. She could not be more impressed by the fight and selflessness of North Texas signee Janai Williams, who has battled through a back injury this season that kept her out of the area meet so that she could be healthy when her team needed her most.
“We all have the same mindset. One goal in mind,” Ehiemua said. “We’ve been ready for this, and everything we’ve done is ready to show itself. They deserve to be here. Now it’s time to execute and trust their training and their coaches. The culture has been set. At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids and beginning with the end in mind.”
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cesley williams desirae roberts fort bend isd fort bend marshall buffalos fort bend marshall high school high school track and field houston high school sports janai williams lloyd banks missouri city shahira ehiemua sports tairah johnson texas uil state championships vype houston high school sports
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