canada africa partner reservation Track legend Roy Martin loved what he saw at this year’s state meet

Track legend Roy Martin loved what he saw at this year’s state meet

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With the presence of high school track legend Roy Martin, there were sure to be fireworks at the UIL State track and field meet.

The air was heavy again and even thicker in the packed Myers Stadium on Saturday.

Speed ​​brings the crowd and nothing can stop the Humble Atascocita from sprinting headlong into history.

Atascocita’s Jelani Watkins, who will play football at LSU this fall, was at the center of one of the most exciting state circuits in decades Saturday afternoon.

Teammates Tory Blaylock (a running back who signed with Oklahoma), Landon Fontenot (an Iowa track signee) and Jordan Parker set the table and Watkins finished it off at anchor in the 400-meter relay, anchoring a 39.14 sprint which was the second. fastest in the country, second only to the record of 38.92 that these four ran earlier this season.

Watkins was part of Klein Forest’s gold-winning relay in 2023 before transferring. When he arrived, he told his new teammates that expectations for him had not changed.

“I told them we were going to win every game,” Watkins said. “We did our best and we succeeded.”

Speed ​​was on display at this year’s state meet

The relay was one for the ages. An unprecedented number of teams – Atascocita, Duncanville, Galena Park North Shore and Katy Tompkins – broke 40 seconds in the same race. Imagine getting a score of 39.85 in a high school meet and not even making the medal count. That was the reality of a great Tompkins team that would have won gold at virtually any other meet in the country.

It should be noted that another relay team, Fort Bend Marshall, won the Class 5A sprint relay on Friday in 39.88, leaving five teams to break 40 seconds. Marshall captured its third team title in a row.

So much speed in one weekend.

“These guys are great,” noted Martin, who set national records at Dallas Roosevelt in the 100 and 200 in 1985. His 20.13 destruction of the 200 remains the state standard. “My relay team at Roosevelt was never under forty. I know it’s a different era, but these kids are making history. I came here to watch the show and was so proud to see what these young athletes are doing. They are incredible.”

Watkins won the 100 (10.19) and the 200 (20.60) to power Atascocita to the team title. Fontenot ended the evening with a comeback victory on the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay.

The Eagles captured team honors, but it was also a great day for Duncanville, which won the girls team title. The boys also set a national record in the 800-meter relay with an effort of 1:22.25. In any other year, the Panthers would have been celebrating a double team title, but the Eagles were on a different level.

“Honestly, this is all a blessing,” said Duncanville sophomore Ayson Theus, who competed on the 400- and 800-meter relay teams. “I love my brothers and we came here and made history (in the 800-meter relay). We respect what Jelani and (Atascocita) have done, but we are also a great team.”

Saturday was a celebration of Texas high school greats. People like Henry Neal of Greenville, Johnny “Lam” Jones of Lampasas and Martin, who set the old Royal-Memorial Stadium on fire with a dazzling performance thirty years ago.

A legend returns to the state meet

Traditional robots aren’t built for speed, but I used to know one who had fighter jets attached to his sneakers. Roy Martin was a real superstar before he learned to drive.

His mechanical, upright walking style earned him the nickname ‘Robot’, a nickname he still carries to this day.

Folks from my hometown of Tyler remember they will never forget that day at the 1985 Earl Campbell Relays when the Roosevelt sophomore erased a 30-yard deficit on the final leg of the 1,600-meter relay to bypass Dallas Lincoln, leaving Rose Stadium went into a frenzy. . All these years later, I can still hear the “Robot” chants. The clock time of 3:12.11 was a national record at the time.

“That was the match that gave me my start,” Martin said on Saturday. “It put me on the map a bit. People in Dallas already knew me, but it felt like the beginning of something outside of where I grew up.

Indeed it was.

Two years later, he set the national record in the 200 with a blitz of 20.13, a record that stood strong before current American superstar Noah Lyles broke it in 2016.

Michael Johnson: ‘You knew first place was gone’

Martin was a major high school rival of Dallas Skyline’s Michael Johnson. Well, Johnson did his best. Long before he would capture gold medals in the 200 and 400 at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and defend his 400 title in Sydney four years later, Johnson spent most of his high school career as a silver medalist in the race to Martin.

“You knew first place was gone,” Johnson told the Dallas Morning News in 2008. “You were trying to beat the other guys for second place.”

After being named Track and Field News’ athlete of the year in 1984 and 1985, Martin went on to help SMU win the 1986 outdoor title in his freshman year. Two years later, he took bronze in the 200 at the Olympic Trials behind Joe DeLoach and the legendary Carl Lewis before finishing sixth in his semifinal at the Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Those were some great times, but they’re in the rearview now. Martin, now 57, is still a recognizable face at track meets in the Metroplex and here, trying to make it to Austin every few years. His running days are over, but Martin still has a deep toe in the sport. He just restarted his old athletic club, aptly named Robots of Mesquite.

“I love coaching young athletes,” he said. “If a child finishes fourth or fifth, but shows the right commitment, I can get started with that. As long as a child has dedication, he or she can make it in this sport.”

We saw just as much on Saturday.

“They’re running faster than we ever have,” Martin said.

Then he flashed a wry grin.

“But who knows?” he mused. “Ol’ Robot might have figured out a way to get them.”

Once a sprinter, always a sprinter.