SHINER - Amber Ramirez hopes a fire truck is waiting at the high school when the Shiner girls return from Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin on Friday night.
Shiner sprint relay team members Amber Ramirez and Laneshia Hunt brace themselves as hurdler Stacey Perez leaps over their heads. The Shiner HS girl’s track team prepares for the state meet running several relay sprints and practicing the high jump. photos by Frank Tilley, Victoria Advocate
Ramirez doesn't want the school catch fire, but she's hoping the Lady Comanches can blaze a new path at the UIL Track and Field State Championships.
"That's one of my goals," Ramirez said. "I want to get up there and ride the fire truck and go in the history books. One of my goals is to win and put Shiner on the map for track instead of every other sport."
Parading a fire truck through town with the siren blaring is a tradition reserved for state champions in Shiner. The baseball team has done it four times, the softball team three times, and the football team twice. The girls track and field team would like to enjoy a ride of its own.
"The reason Shiner is known for those other sports is because they've had the success," said Shiner coach Wendell Boner. "That gives us a little drive with the girls. They're kind of paving their own path."
Boner began coaching track and field at Shiner seven seasons ago, which coincided with the track being constructed at Comanche Stadium. He's in his third year as head coach of the girls program and will be taking the team to the state meet for the second consecutive season.
Shiner scored 16 points last year, but should do much better this season after winning the Region IV-1A title and qualifying for the state meet in five events.
"The difference this year is a lot more maturity about little things," Boner said. "When you're younger, things like stretching properly, that was a big thing to warm up and stretch properly, and now they just know it has to be done."
Ramirez, a junior, and Perez, a sophomore, will join junior Teri Flowers and freshman Laneshia Hunt on the 400- and 800-meter relays. Hunt will run the 100-meter dash and Perez will compete in the 100-meter hurdles. Junior Shauntae Hights qualified in the high jump.
"I think it will help us a lot having gone last year," Perez said. "I've competed in AAU all my life, but going to state was different. I could just see everybody in the stands hollering. It was an experience like no other. We want to bring home the team championship and get on the medal stand."
Clockwise beginning below, Teri Flowers, Amber Ramirez, Shauntae Hights, Stacey Perez and Laneshia Hunt will participate in the state track meet representing Shiner High School.
Boner figures the Lady Comanches have the ability to score 40 to 50 points, which should be enough to win the team title, but he doesn't want to put undo pressure on the girls.
"I just want to go run well," Boner said. "If you run well and you don't win any of your races that's what Austin is all about just running your best."
The Lady Comanches have run well enough to be seeded in the top three in both relays. They finished second in the 800 relay last year at the state meet, but missed a chance to run the 400 relay when they dropped the baton at the regional meet.
"Our sprint relay got disqualified in the preliminaries and that was devastating," Ramirez said. "We mainly have to have perfect handoffs. Our team chemistry has been great. It's just running as fast as we can."
The Shiner girls know the faster they run in Austin increases their chances of getting a special ride when they return home.
"We talk about it all the time in class," Flowers said. "We know that the little kids look up to us sometimes. Just knowing they could look up to us on the fire truck is kind of exciting. I remember when the football team won the state championship (2004). There were a lot of people cheering for them. I was just thinking maybe one day I'll be able to do that too."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at email@example.com.