ARLINGTON — Although Highland Park junior Natalie Rathjen has been to the state track and field championships twice, she has never gone as a regional champion in two events.
Until now, that is.
Rathjen won the 1600- (4:59.79) and the 3200-meter runs (10:46.25) to help the Lady Scots to a second-place finish in the Class 4A Region II Championships today at Maverick Stadium.
Lancaster won the meet with 86 points, followed by Highland Park with 60 points. Frisco Heritage was third with 58. Rathjen, who has helped Highland Park win three straight cross country state championships, finished second in the 3200 and fourth in the 1600 last year at state.
Joining Rathjen at state on May 10 in Austin will be teammates Gabby Crank and Mary Beth Hamilton. Crank, a sophomore, qualified in two events by finishing second in both the triple jump (37-11) and the 800 (2:14.49), while Hamilton, a senior, won the 800 with a time of 2:14.02 to give the Lady Scots a 1-2 finish in that event.
“I’m so excited,” Rathjen said. “I relished that opportunity the last two years. I couldn’t be more happy. I’m so proud of Gabby and Mary Beth.”
Crank, who also finished third in the long jump (17-6) at regionals, came in fourth place in the 800 at last year’s state meet.
“I was excited about triple jump, because I didn’t know I would qualify in that,” Crank said. “I only lost by half an inch. And I love Mary Beth with a passion. She is the most amazing teammate. I count my blessings to have had her there with me this year. She’s a good friend.”
Hamilton also finished fifth in the 400 with a time of 58.12. And while she would have liked to have also qualified in that event, the future Longhorn is thrilled to be making her first trip to the state meet to wrap up her high school career.
“It’s been a long process,” Hamilton said. “Getting there my last year was really bittersweet, but getting to see one of my teammates and best friends [Crank] go last year was phenomenal. I could not be more proud of her. I wanted to come back and have a chance to do that myself. Thank God we could both make it happen. I could not be more grateful.”
Also for the Lady Scots, Kara Davis finished fifth in the 200 (25.74), Juliana McIlveene finished fifth in the high jump (5-4), the 800-meter relay team finished sixth (1:42.09), and Rebecca Herring took seventh in the 400 (58.99), The 400-meter relay team did no qualify for Saturday’s finals.
“Everyone had a great two days,” Lady Scots head coach Susan Bailey said. “We either scored, PR’d [set a personal record], or did both. It was all good. They were very focused.”
The Flying Scots finished in 17th place with 13 points. Texarkana Texas High and Lancaster shared the boys regional title with 77 points each. Nacogdoches was third with 40 points.
Andrew Clyde and Brooks Munn had the top finishes for the boys. They both took third place — Clyde in the shot put with a 50-0 1/4 on his final attempt, and Munn in the 800 with a time of 1:57.38. Munn fell at the finish line making a final surge for third.
“Coming into the finals, I was in sixth place,” Clyde said. “The thrower before me on my final throw was in seventh place and beat me, so he moved up to sixth place. Sixth place earns points, so I knew I had to throw better than he did. I gave it my all and did a lot better than I expected.”
Also for the Highland Park boys, Whit Weinberg finished sixth in the pole vault (14-0), Pearson Feagans finished seventh in the long jump (21-6 1/2), Danny Leland got seventh in the 400 (51.08), and Dylan Thompson was ninth in the discus (138-11). The 800-meter relay team did not qualify for Saturday’s finals.
Highland Park’s three third-place finishers (Clyde, Crank, and Munn) could still qualify for state. The best third-place finisher in each event from across the state is awarded a wildcard berth. Those berths should be announced either later tonight or Sunday.