Eagles take third at area meet

Pleasanton’s Ashon Thompson races ahead of the field during the 100-meter dash at the 27/28-4A area meet on Thursday, April 15. SAM FOWLER | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

WIMBERLEY — The Pleasanton Eagles put together a strong showing at the District 27/28-4A area meet.

The Eagles finished third as a team and are sending six athletes in nine events to the regional meet at Texas A&M-Kingsville’s Javelina Stadium April 23-24. The Lady Eagles qualified one athlete in Caitlyn Nieschwitz, who finished fourth in the 800.

“Today was amazing for Pleasanton track,” Eagles Head Coach Rudy Franco said. “The amount of attention these boys are bringing to the sport in Pleasanton, it’s gonna be great for years to come.”

Thompson keeps winning

Senior sprinter Ashon Thompson kept up his unbeaten individual season with a pair of individual gold medals in sprints.

Thompson ran a 10.94 to win the 100-meter dash by four-tenths of a second. He also won the 200 with a time of 22.01 to beat Wimberley’s Juan Olmedo-Barraco by three-tenths of a second.

On the cold, wet day, Thompson knew he was going to stay hot.

“Honestly, it feels good going [to regionals] my first full year of running track,” Thompson said. “Last year, we had COVID. This year, we have track and I won first place and I’m going to regionals.”

Thompson noted the 200-meter dash was probably the toughest race he has had this season. The senior had been accustomed to winning races by half a second or more.

“That’s the most I’ve been pushed this year so far,” Thompson said. “They had a good curve and they were catching up to me once we hit the 100. But in the end, I pushed through.”

Palacios kicks way to gold; takes silver, as well

Jayden Palacios fights to get free during the start of the 800-meter run at the 27/28-4A area meet on Thursday, April 15. SAM FOWLER | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Pleasanton’s freshman standout Jayden Palacios used a big push to pick up a gold and a silver medal at the area meet on Thursday.

Palacios was in fourth entering the final 100 meters of the 400-meter dash. He would finish first with a time of 50.4.

“I came through,” Palacios said. “I realized I have a lot more in the tank. I really kicked it in. I felt myself pulling away from them. The rest was just mental.”

Palacios needed another good push in the 800-meter run. He had to fend off Mills Tyler of Fredericksburg on the home stretch to take home silver. Palacios turned in a 2:04.46.

The freshman was bottled up at the start and had to fight his way back to the front of the pack

“I was just running and trying to keep up with the kid in front,” Palacios said. “It just came to me that I had to push. I have to do it with all the hard work we put in.”

Pilgrim PRs way to regionals

Freshman pole vaulter Preston Pilgrim used a new personal record to earn a spot in Kingsville next week.

Pilgrim vaulted 13-6 to claim the bronze medal at the area meet. He had hit that mark in practice leading up to the meet and knew he could get it.

“I’m very proud of myself,” Pilgrim said. “I know I can do more, so I’m going to be in the gym more, training and getting ready for this next meet.”

Pilgrim had to fight to earn his regional spot. The freshman was down to his final attempt at 11-6 before clearing it and spring boarding himself to regionals.

“It was a very nice jump,” Pilgrim said. “I was losing focus. Then I regained it and it very much helped me today.”

The competition at the area meet in pole vault was stiff. Pilgrim and Fredericksburg’s David Jumes each hit 13-6, with Jumes winning the tiebreaker for second place. William Hillenbrand, of Canyon Lake, won the event with 14-feet.

Pilgrim plans to use that experience to help him prepare for the regional meet

“I need to have no misses next week,” Pilgrim said. “I need to have flawless jumps so that I can do better.”

Two jumpers advance

The Eagles will be represented on each the triple and long jump runways.

Este’van Jackson and Juan Lopez advanced in triple and long jump, respectively.

Jackson was the first Eagle to advance in an individual event by placing third with a jump of 42-3, just a half-inch from Wimberley’s Landon Gary in second.

It’s his first trip to regionals as a triple jumper.

“It’s the best feeling,” Jackson said. “I feel like I can go to state. I just wanna give glory to [God]. Man, I’m really gonna get it. This is the first time I’m going to regionals in triple jump. I’m not gonna stop.”

The conditions were not ideal on Thursday. A chilly fog blanketed the field while a strong wind blew in the face of jumpers.

Keeping their muscles warm was the biggest problem.

“It was difficult with muscles,” Jackson said. “Since it was cold, our muscles were tighter. It was hard, but I think we did pretty good in these conditions.”

Lopez edged out Jackson for the fourth and final spot in long jump with a jump of 20-10. Jackson was 20-8.25 in fifth.

Eagles relay qualifies in bizarre circumstances

The Pleasanton Eagles’ 800-meter relay team was not in a position to clinch a regional spot entering the final leg of the race with Thompson anchoring the final leg.

Thompson took the stick from Lopez and was able to climb all the way up to third place down the final straightaway. The Eagles won second in the event after a slip by Cuero’s Jeremiah Wilson let Pleasanton edge the Gobblers by one-hundredth of a second with a team time of 1:30.91.

“I was just thinking to push forward,” Thompson said. “I tried to get us in first. But I just pushed forward to make sure we qualified for regionals.”

The Eagles also qualified their 1600-meter relay team (Ramos, Jackson, Lopez, Palacios) after coming close to breaking the school record.

Palacios anchored the Eagles from fourth to third to beat out Cuero’s team of Donavin Jones, Beau Fournet, Braidon Mathis and Devon Blount.

“The amount of potential [Jayden] has is unmatched,” Franco said. “He comes out and works hard. I can push him as much as I need to to get him where he needs to be. The potential this kid has as a freshman is unmatched. I haven’t seen it anywhere.”

Regional Qualifiers


800m: Caitlyn Nieschwitz


Triple Jump: Este’van Jackson

Long Jump: Juan Lopez

Pole Vault: Preston Pilgrim

800m: Jayden Palacios

100m: Ashon Thompson

800 relay: Este’van Jackson, Sean Ramos, Juan Lopez, Ashon Thompson

400m: Jayden Palacios

200m: Ashon Thompson

1600 relay: Sean Ramos, Este’van Jackson, Juan Lopez, Jayden Palacios

This story was updated with the correct regional meet site for Class 4A.

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