Santana soars to silver, athletes excel in track meet

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At this rate, Axcel Santana will collect every color of medal.

A bronze medalist in the boys’ 2A triple jump last season, the Iraan junior took home the silver medal in the same event this year at the State Track & Field meet this weekend in Austin with a jump of 45 feet, 10 1/2 inches.

“There’s a little disappointment in it,” Santana said. “Coming in this year, I had the mindset of going in and winning. I did feel a lot more confident. The environment was still the same, but the nerves were a lot calmer. Next year, I’ll be more prepared.”

Clarksville’s Clashon Gaffney won the gold medal for the second year in a row. The mark wasn’t as far as his jump of 46 feet, 1/2 inches in the Regional meet, but Santana did beat his third place mark and Gaffney’s winning leap from last season.

It wasn’t until his sixth and final jump that Santana made his silver medal-winning jump. Gaffney, a senior, made his state championship leap on his very first attempt.

Kyle O’Bannon finished in fourth place in the boys’ pole vault with at 15 feet.

“I’ve gotten over 15 feet, six inches in practice,” O’Bannon said. “You’ve just got to be perfect at everything to get over the bar. It’s my first time being here and it’s a great experience. It was a blast.”

The junior made it over the bar on his first try on his first five jumps of the meet but hit a wall at 15 feet, three inches. Ethan Bernstein of Albany won the gold medal with a vault of 16 feet.

All eight competitors either matched or beat the mark they set at the regional meet, including O’Bannon, who qualified with a 14-foot vault at the regional meet.

Facing temperatures in the high-80s to low-90s during the middle of the day on Saturday, junior Lynda Martinez finished in ninth place in the girls’ 1600-meter run with a time of 5:54.27. Sundown’s Andrea Sanchez came in at 5:21.38 to take home first place.

Martinez started the race strong, running the first 400 meters in 1:18.8. But she faded as the race went on and by time the final two last came around, was amount 20 seconds behind her opening pace.

“It wasn’t my best time, but I got here and that’s what I care about,” Lynda Martinez said. “It was hot. I haven’t run in such high temperatures in a long time. But the crowd was so big and it’s just a great feeling being here.”

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