WHITESBORO — One memory that stands out in the mind of Whitesboro track coach Brenton Gabbert are the school buses parked outside of Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin. His hope was to bring enough student-athletes in that bus for the state track meet.
He won’t be bringing a bus — choosing separate vehicles instead — but he will be bringing eight boys from Whitesboro as they compete at the state track meet this weekend.
“It’s exciting to bring that many down to the state meet,” Gabbert said. “Taking kids down there is always a great experience and it will be fun to bring them down there.”
Two of those athletes — junior Michael Urbina and senior Dustin White — are both returning for the second straight year. Urbina will be running in the 3n200 meter run after qualifying with a time of 9:49.66 in the regional meet. He finished sixth in last year’s state meet.
White qualified with a time of 1:57.03 in the 800 meter run and placed seventh at state a year ago.
“It’s a special feeling no matter what year it is,” Urbina said. “Just knowing that you’re one of the few that gets to go out of the whole state is really special.”
“It always feels good to go compete and represent Whitesboro,” White said, “It takes a lot of work and effort to make it this far, especially in our region.”
Both runners are looking to improve on their finishes from last year and believe they can build on their experiences from last year for a better result this time around.
“I’m hoping to do better this time around,” White said. “It’s more exciting than last year for sure because it is the last meet.”
This time around, they will be joined by six other teammates competing in five different events. They include junior Tanner Young in the discus, junior Noah Greisen in the 200 meter run and senior Weston Hickman in the 300 meter hurdles.
Greisen and Hickman will also be competing with two different relay teams. They’ll be joined in the 800 relay with seniors Brent Riddle and Bradley Klingler and in the 400 relay with Riddle and junior Scout Sanders. It is the first time since 2013 that the Bearcats have sent a relay team to the state meet.
“It’s honestly a dream come true knowing that all the work from the past three-and-a-half years has led up to making it to the big show,” Hickman said. “Being able to run this meet is going to be exciting.”
The state meet will put the cap on what has been a special season for the Bearcats. After winning the Class 3A Region II championship two weeks ago, it’s a group ready to go and accomplish even more in Austin.
“It’s great to have all of us go together as a group,” Urbina said. “It shows the hard work we’ve put in to train and it wouldn’t be as fun without them.”
For the four seniors, it will be the last time they will get to represent Whitesboro at a track meet. Sanders, Hickman and Greisen each have to balance a baseball playoff run and will compete in that at the same time as the track meet.
That said, it’s an opportunity that they are fully embracing.
“It’s very big for us knowing that our community has our back like they do,” Sanders said. “Competing with the big ‘W’ on our chest, I feel like we all represent well.”
“It means a lot to them and getting to finish their track careers in high school,” Gabbert said. “They want to do well for themselves, their families and the community.”
The Bearcats also hope that the end result is taking home a trophy and multiple gold medals back to Whitesboro. But as they start competition on Friday, Gabbert hopes that they take everything in stride.
“I just want to see them compete,” Gabbert said. “They work hard and they push themselves. As a coach, you want to see that fight and for them to give it all they got. If they do that and just compete at their highest level, they’ll be happy with the outcome.”