AUSTIN — Riley Richards had to borrow a hand towel from one of his competitors.
Competing in the middle of the day meant trying to perform at the highest level while fighting dehydration and heat exhaustion.
The China Spring senior soaked the towel in cold water and kept it on top of his head until it was his time to vault.
“Clayton Fritsch was nice enough to lend me his towel,” Richards said. “I doused the water from the towel over my head. I stayed in the shade and everything. My fellow competitors here are incredible.”
While Richards was preparing to warm-up to defend his state title, Joe Williams and Ca’Purnika Galbert were also fighting the heat to compete in the 100, 400 and 200 – a trio of races that spanned just over an hour.
Williams knew this feat was daunting – despite the weather – and for the previous two weeks focused on his endurance during workouts.
At Mike A. Myers Track Complex, Williams retreated to the shade where he stretched and gulped down water.
“I ran a lot of 500s and 300 and everything,” Williams said. “We did a lot of stuff. But it got pretty hot out here.”
Galbert did the same thing, even though the heat became too unbearable for her to compete in the 200.
“I was drinking water,” she said. “But the heat, you can’t control it.”
Like the temperature in Austin, these three scorched their competition as they combined to win six gold medals.
Richards cleared 16-06 on his second attempt as Fritsch and Hunter Wigington failed to make that mark.
“This gold medal feels particularly sweet,” Richards said. “Last year when I came to the state meet I fought back from a broken ankle injury. That was my first state championship and that felt sweet. Knowing this is my last state meet and last meet to jump as a high school student, it means a lot to me. I’m very, very happy.”
On the track, Galbert and Williams got their days started with victories in the 100.
They used that success to propel them in the 400.
Williams won his 400 by almost two seconds but .04 shy of the 2A record.
“My legs got tense and noodley at the end,” Williams said. “I was trying to break the record and nobody was near my. In the end my legs got a little tired. I couldn’t get it.”
While Williams felt like he had just enough left in the tank to compete in the 200, Galbert had to be helped off the track after her 400.
The senior gave the race everything she had, beating her personal best by two seconds, and finished more than two seconds ahead of the her competitors.
“The 400 didn’t feel as hard as I thought it would,” Galbert said. “I felt like I could get a better time. But it did feel bad after. I felt it all after.”
Crawford also added to the medal count as neither the heat nor the huge stage of the state track meet affected them.
The Pirates started the day off with a bronze medal in the sprint relay. Crawford once again placed third in the 4x200 relay.
“We’ve been here before,” Jeff Ward said. “This is our third year. We won state in baseball, and in football this year. It’s nothing new to us being in state. It’s great to get another opportunity. No first place medals yet.”
They got their gold medals in the mile relay as they won with a time of 3:18.72.
That victory gave Crawford 20 points which moved the Pirates into second place as a team for the meet.
As Crawford continued its postseason success, McGregor’s Ryan Hering took the track with one thing on his mind.
About 15 months ago, his brother Rhett passed away.
Ryan’s gold medal in the 110 hurdles Saturday afternoon was for his brother.
“The journey has come full circle,” Hering said. “I’ve been running hurdles since my seventh grade year. I was getting dusted consistently. Junior year I finally made it to regionals but didn’t make finals. This year to win state is a big deal. I dedicate this season to my brother. It’s a big deal for me.”
For Ronnie Briscoe, he was just trying to podium.
After winning the finals in regionals last year, the Connally senior was disqualified because his trail leg went over his lane line.
Saturday night in Austin, Briscoe fought through his nerves and memories of a year ago to earn the silver in the 300 hurdles.
“I felt good through my race, honestly,” Briscoe said. “Once I went over the first hurdle and got fast, I kept my composure and my form. It felt pretty good. It’s a big thing. I just wanted to get on the podium whether it was first, second or third. I was able to accomplish that. That’s a big dream come true for me.”