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Bettis captures gold at state
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–Following a spring full of adversity, Kemp’s Sharda Bettis is
starting the summer off with a flash – a gold-colored flash from the
medal around her neck.
Bettis broke her own best mark (set in the regional meet) and set a new
Kemp High School record by winning the Class 3A 100 meter hurdles in
14.53 seconds Saturday at the state track meet in Austin.
“I realized I won when I turned around and looked at the (score)board,
then I saw them put a 1 up there (by her name),” she recalled. “The
tears started flowing.”
Turning to coach Peggy Swierc, she added, “Then I heard you scream.”
“I was using my best gym voice,” Swierc said, matching Bettis’ wide grin
with one of her own.
Not only did Bettis win, she won by a pretty healthy margin, a full
stride ahead of Stafford’s Jasmine Oyewuml, who finished second at 14.82
“About the second-to-last hurdle, I realized I didn’t see anybody around
me, or hear anything,” Bettis recalled.
“Most of the time, when the race is real close, you can hear people in
the stands going ‘ssuupp’ (sucking in a big breath),” she added.
“She was the first one over the first hurdle, and she never backed off
after that,” Swierc said. “I knew by the third hurdle that we were in
Of the five classes, Bettis’ time was the fourth best in the state. The
best time, 13.70, was posted by Dallas Sunset’s Lauren Blackburn in the
5A race, with El Paso Chapin’s Evonne Britton winning the 4A race in
Gordon’s Amber Elkins won the 1A race in 14.19, while San Antonio Cole’s
Lauren Garrett won the 2A race in 14.61.
It’s been a while since a Kemp student won at the state meet (maybe a
long while – nobody really knew how long it had been Monday), but Bettis
was receiving congratulations one at a time from everyone who stopped by
the high school.
While being interviewed, Bettis got a bouquet of white roses with a
“congratulations” balloon attached.
Swierc said no official ceremonies have been scheduled yet, since school
dismissed before the state meet took place.
“We will do a plaque for the trophy case,” she added.
It’s likely Bettis’ plaque will be one of the first trophies placed in
the new high school once it officially opens in August, and it’s also
likely there will be some official ceremony marking her feat at that
Region II has long been considered one of the most competitive of the
four Texas regions in any given sport, and this year’s state meet bore
that out, Swierc said.
“There are 17 gold medals awarded at the state meet, and our region took
12 of the 17,” she said. “That doesn’t count the other medals, like the
silver Chelsea (Truitt) won (see related story).”
Swierc said the visit to Austin was also very productive, in that she
was able to talk with a number of college coaches about Bettis.
(Recruiting coaches can’t talk directly with Bettis yet.)
“I talked with LSU, the University of Kentucky, West Texas A&M and Texas
College,” Swierc said. “I have letters from Rice and one other one I
can’t remember off the top of my head.”
Bettis said she didn’t remember a whole lot about the actual race – “I
zoned out,” she said – but admitted she was extremely nervous going in.
“I’m always nervous,” she said. “I make sure I’m the very last one
getting into the blocks.
“I know that way, as soon as I get ready, they’re going to say, “set,”
and I don’t have to worry about jumping (early),” she added.
While the realization she actually won a state title is gradually
sinking in, Bettis admitted she had no clue about how she was going to
spend her summer break.
“I’ve got cheer champ, and (club) volleyball, tumbling, shopping and
maybe some rest,” she said.
Truitt grabs silver medal
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
EUSTACE–With a silver medal in hand, it was clear Chelsea Truitt was
looking forward to life after high school Monday.
Truitt became the first Eustace High School student to medal in the pole
vault Saturday by breaking her own school record at the state track meet
She vaulted 11-6 to claim second place behind Whitney’s Wren Bonner, who
cleared 13-0 for the gold medal.
“They made a big sign for the school gym (listing the school record),
and now they’ve got to get it re-done,” she said with a grin.
“I wanted to get on the podium,” Truitt said. “No Eustace girl has gone
to state in the last five years, and it was the first time for a pole
vaulter, so he (veteran coach Chuck Powers) was happy.”
Her silver medal performance came a week after graduation, and Truitt
said she was far more relaxed at the state meet than she had been at the
Region II meet in Commerce June 15.
“At regional, I like felt so much pressure to go to state,” Truitt said.
“I mean, they bought me a new pole, and I felt I had to go.”
Truitt tied with Argyle senior Jessica Bonfield at the regional meet,
both clearing 11-3, with Bonfield getting the winner’s nod on the basis
of fewer misses.
They tied again at state, with the edge on the number of misses going to
“We’re both seniors, so the other girls (in Region II) have a chance,”
Truitt didn’t stress over losing to the elfin Bonner, who’s even smaller
than she is.
“She just had way better technique, whereas I am somewhat lacking in
technique and have to make that up with athletic ability,” Truitt said.
“She won as a freshman, and won again last year.
“Pole vaults are all pretty close,” she added. “(Bonner) was the best
vaulter anywhere. There are going to be only one or two girls in any
region who can move up to a coach.
“A lot of girls can do 10-6, but not a lot of girls can do 11-6,” Truitt
Getting up to 13 feet puts any female vaulter into a rare atmosphere,
even at the major college level.
“I watched the Big 12 meet the other night,” Truitt said. “Eleven-seven
was the opening height, and out of 18 jumpers, only 12 cleared the
Remember, now – Truitt is doing all of this with a broken foot, suffered
during soccer season, and figures to spend a good portion of the next
six weeks or so in a cast.
“I’m going to the chiropractor today,” she said. “I pinched a nerve in
Truitt is not expecting to take her pole vaulting expertise into
If a superior scholarship to a college strong in her chosen field
(marine biology) came her way, Truitt would consider it, but that’s not
likely, and she’s not worried about leaving high school athletics
“It’s just not that important to me,” she said. “I loved vaulting in
high school, (but) I’m kind of ready to move on from high school
athletics. I just want to get my degree and get on with my career.”