* Lake Charles Sam Houston's (LA) Halyn Senegal doubled at the Track Dynamite Invitational
Photo Credit: Mark Senegal
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By Cory Mull
A few weeks ago at the Leander Spartans Invitational in Liberty Hill, Texas, Mark Senegal tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for a second to chat.
This isn't an uncommon experience at track meets, as fathers -- or mothers or coaches or athletes -- often see the 'MileSplit' brand on our shirts and are either curious of our jobs or have a particular slight to pick with our rankings.
This particular time, however, Mark, whose family resides in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was going a third route: He wanted to throw me some good intel.
His daughter, Halyn Senegal, was quickly finding her footing in the world of track and field, having won two LHSAA Outdoor Class 5A Championships in the 400m and 800m the previous season, but just couldn't find enough competition in Louisiana to make that figurative 'jump' from year-to-year, so she was here, just north of Austin, with eyes on comepting against some legitimate talent.
"That's the only way we're going to get better," Mark said, "so we've come here and we're going to Dallas in a few weeks."
I thanked Mark for his time and made sure to make a note of Halyn, who finished fourth that day in the 800m behind Anastacia Gonzales in 2:16.99. Importantly, however, it was her second straight performance at 2:16.
Fast forward to Saturday.
Halyn got her breakthorugh -- the rising senior from Lake Charles Sam Houston scored two personal records in the 400m and 800m, hitting times of 55.31 and 2:16.10, respectively, to win both events at the Track Dynamite Invitational in Dallas.
While those times represent just small, subtle improvements from earlier performances, Senegal's consistency is showing impressive ability and perhaps it's only a matter of time before those times quietly shatter into the wind.
Her biggest moment? Senegal came up with the win over Leander Spartans' Hali Murphy in the 400m, who had been on a particular tear over that particular race -- Murphy had won her last eight races. Senegal took the victory by three-tenths of a second. And her win in the 800m was seven seconds ahead of second-place competitor Marissa Agee (2:23.31).
* Video Credit: Danny McCray, Greater Houston
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Fast And Furious: The 17-18 age division in the boys 100m was absolutely on fire. TCU signee Robert Gregory came through with an impressive victory, leading almost the entire field below 11 seconds in a wind-legal winning time fo 10.42 (+0.7) seconds. David Foster was second in 10.51 seconds, while Garrett Wilkins (10.57), Broderick Starnes (10.57) and Auhmad Robinson (10.65) followed. A total of 11 athletes in the 17-18 division were under 11 seconds.
Female Speed: Not to be fogotten, however, is the girls 17-18 division, which saw Kenondra Davis out-lean Jasmine Montgomery at the line by five-thousandths of a second. Davis crossed in 11.684, while Montgomery followed in 11.689. Leander Spartans' Autumn Wilson went 11.73 and Dynasty MccLennon brough home a fourth girl under 12 seconds in 11.99.
Hurdle Ace: Great Houston's Bryce McCray came to the Track Dynamite Invitational looking to get a great hurdle time in the 400mH, and that he did, winning his 17-18 heat in 53.52 seconds over Mario Paul, who went 54.94. But remarkably, it wasn't even the fastest time on the day. In the 15-16 division, a faster-riser from Str8 Smoking Track Club, Tamaal Myers, went 53.48 seconds.
Leap Squad: Senegal wasn't the other athlete from Louisiana making waves, either. High jumper Alacia Myles, a recent gradauate of New Orleans Edna Karr -- and a VCU recruit -- was just two inches off her personal record with a mark of 5 feet, 8 inches.
Half-Mile Mission: Eastview (MN) graduate AJ Green, the highly-touted Kansas recruit, continued on his mission to run a fast 800m to finish off 2020 and overcame some tough variables -- boxed in at the start and some outlier forces in the outside lanes -- to run a winning-time of 1:52.02 in the 800m. That scraped 6-tenths of a second off his last time, though the conditions still weren't perfect, and Green will continue to reach for another fast time this week in Las Vegas at the AAU Juniro Olympics West Coast meet. He also ran 49.48 seconds in the 400m.
Team Success: While the outdoor season was axed with the onset of COVID-19, that still hasn't prevented some teams on working on their hand-offs and relays. On Saturday, Showtime Track's boys' 4x100 squad went 41.00 seconds flat behidn the efforts of Auhmad Robinson, Connor Washington, Broderick Starnes and Robert Griffin Jr.