Howe hurdlers get high marks

Jason Della RosaHerald Democrat

HOWE — Making the jump to the state meet wasn’t too tough for Ryan Haines since the senior qualified last spring. This time however, he has some company.

Clasmmate Morgan Bailey gives the program another hurdler in the hunt for a medal as the duo will compete on Saturday afternoon at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.

“She really deserved it this year,” Haines said. “She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen. I know she outworks me.”

Haines was the runner-up in the 110 hurdles at the Class 2A Region II meet, losing a photo finish to Grandview’s Ben Thomes at 15.04 seconds. They have the sixth-best time among the qualifiers. Tatum’s Jaylen Shans-Sheppard is at the top with a time of 14.60 seconds.

“I knew I could run better than I did last year,” Haines said. “There were a couple of kids that were up there competing with me, especially at the area meet.”

He also almost qualified for state in the 300 hurdles but did not get a wild card berth after a third-place finish at regionals.

Bailey got her spot in the field thanks to the wild card spot. She was third at regionals in 45.83 seconds — which happened to fall behind the two fastest times in the state by Rogers’ Lauren Bedrich (43.37) and Sunnyvale’s Andi Morgan (44.85).

“It was horrible. I had to work out and hope that I made it,” Bailey said. “I had hope I’d make it. I knew my time was good enough to be in. I hoped no one jumped up.”

Bailey is seeded fifth, one of four competitors within a second of getting into the top three.

She had been to state before as part of Howe’s fifth-place 800 relay when she was a freshman but switched to the hurdles after being sidelined with an injury during her sophomore season. “I do appreciate it more,” Bailey said. “I couldn’t let my freshman self outdo my senior self.”

In less than two years she has become one of the top athletes in her event.

“I had never even considered hurdles. I made regionals and made finals and that was shocking,” Bailey said about her junior year. “It was a lot of technique. Just tweaking what I had learned last year.”

Haines, who has qualified for regionals all four years in at least one hurdles event, was sixth in the 110 hurdles last spring with a time of 15.15 seconds. But he was just 0.09 from getting the bronze. He knows how every step and leap can count in getting to the podium.

“That’s definitely doable this year,” said Haines, who also competed in the high jump at state last year. “I feel my technique is better and if I run a good time I know I can get up there. I was running a good race and the last couple hurdles slowed me down.”