EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - Track and Field athletes from San Augustine and Alto are hard at work preparing for the UIL State Track Meet.
Both teams had goals of getting to state and under normal circumstances no one would be surprised to see them competing. But with what these two towns have been through, it is something special to see high school athletes block out the distractions.
On April 24, an EF-2 tornado ripped through parts of San Augustine. It was less than 48 hours from when the district’s track team was set to compete in the 2A Region III meet.
“We normally see all the people around town and going into stores but it is different now,” freshman Charlisa Teagle said. "Now we see all the destruction. It is sad.
The Wolves performed well enough to get multiple qualifiers. The school will be represented in the girls 4x100 relay, girls 4x200 relay, girls 4x400relay and the boys 4x400 relay.
“It was a little distracting,” San Augustine senior Emily Holmes said. “When we got to the track. It just changed. it is a business trip. We had to let it fly off our back.”
Sixty-three miles away, the Alto track team is hard at work also preparing for state.
They qualified in the boys 4x100 relay, boys 4x200 relay, BriAnna Green in the girls 110 hurdles, Isaiah Gaddis in both the boys 110 and 300 hurdles, Chesnee Upshaw in the girls 300 hurdles, Fred Thacker in the discuss throw and shot put as well as Abby Bernardin the high jump.
"It has been challenging, Thacker said. “We had family who lost their houses. One week we did not have practice. We lost the high school the rest of the year. We are transitioning to the elementary school and collide with them. It has been a rough two weeks.”
The team finds the track at Cam’ron Matthews field as a place they come to escape what is going on in town.
“It was a little challenging,” Clayton Terry said. “We did have a lot of people come down and help so we didn’t have to do everything one our own. That builds self confidence.”
Now both East Texas schools dealing with the same disaster cleanup will look to once again put it behind them and perform well at state.
“It says a lot,” Alto track Coach Lance Bernard said. “Lots of times, if one thing is wrong, the kid can’t perform well. We had several things go wrong and we’ve decided to strap it up and go out and perform.”
The state track meet will be at the University of Texas on May 10-11.
To see a full list of who all has qualified, click here.