Manvel boys, Marshall girls rule Region III

The expected and the unexpected took center stage at the Region III-5A high school track meet at Turner Stadium.

Defending regional champion Fort Bend Marshall was expected to receive a stiff challenge from both Manvel and Port Arthur Memorial in the boys’ division.

With first-place finishes in the 100-meter dash (Caleb Jolivette), 400-meter dash (Howard Fields), high jump (Michael Tolds) and the 4X200 relay, Manvel amassed 108 points to outdistance runner-up Port Arthur Memorial (88) for the boys’ team title.

“We got second in the 300-meter hurdles (London Harris) and second in the 4X100 relay so we’ll take a full group to Austin for the state track meet and see what happens,” said Manvel head boys’ coach Kendrick Crumedy. “With a third place in the mile relay we might have a shot at the at-large spot.”

The Port Arthur Memorial boys were second with 88 points and Marshall came in third with 45.

“Our kids competed real well,” Crumedy said. “We came in with some nicks and bruises. Some of the guys didn’t take care of their bodies coming into the meet. Yet we were able to advance two relays with a chance for a third and we had success in some open events.”

Jolivette placed third in the boys’ long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 10 inches.

An unexpected force in the meet was the coming of age of a youthful Marshall girls’ squad led by head coach Benita Smith.

The Marshall foursome of freshman Doneshia Johnson, Reina Ryan, Angel Johnson and Payton Wells came from behind to win the meet’s final event (mile relay) in a time of 3:53.55 and capture the girls’ team title with 50 points.

Wells won the open 400 with a clocking of 57.29 seconds. Hannah Overmyer of Kingwood Park took the silver medal (57.36) and Humble’s Rikisia Thomas (57.75) placed third.

The Marshall 4X200 relay unit of freshman Khacia Mitchell, Ryan, Johnson and Wells placed second in 1:41.33 to Manvel (1:41.20). Ryan is the lone Marshall senior.

It was later announced that due to a compilation error the Marshall and Manvel girls tied with 50 points and are regional co-champions.

Manvel girls won a gold medal in the 4X200 relay (1:41.20) and came in second in the 4X400 relay (3:56.12).

“We helped the girls grow up and become a little more mature,” Smith said. “It was time to run and we know when to do it and how to do it. They performed today.

“Payton Wells was a key addition to our squad. She transferred in from [Houston] Madison and she did a great job in the 400 and she helped us in the 4X400,” Smith said. “She’s a Marshall Buffalo now.”

Beaumont Central and Humble girls tied for third with 46 points.

The 2017 Texas UIL high school state track and field meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin is set for May 11-13.

“We have two weeks to prepare now,” Smith said. “The girls are happy and motivated now. There’s not too much more that we have to do. We’re going to enjoy this right now, but when it’s time to run in two weeks, we’ll be ready.”