2011-04-08 / Sports

A race to remember

By CLAY WHITTINGTON
Staff Writer


The Lampasas mile relay team poses with the 1976 Class 3A state championship plaque following their victory-clinching performance in the meet’s final event. The team will be honored during the Texas Relays Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Lampasas mile relay team poses with the 1976 Class 3A state championship plaque following their victory-clinching performance in the meet’s final event. The team will be honored during the Texas Relays Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Johnny “Lam” Jones is like a majority of the crowd in attendance at the 1976 Class 3A state championship track and field meet.

His memory of the title-clinching performance in the 4x400-meter relay is just a blur.

“I can’t believe it’s been 35 years,” Jones said of winning the state title while attending Lampasas High School. “I don’t remember any one thing. The whole season was magical, and I can’t even explain it.

“A lot of people think it just happened that day, but our goal was to win the state meet. We had purpose when we got to the state meet.”

While the victory catapulted Jones into a storied athletic career that included Olympic gold medals, Longhorn school records and a second-overall selection in the NFL draft, Jones will forever be linked with his leg of the mile relay.

In the final event of the state meet, Lampasas needed to win the 4x400 in order to claim the championship.

When Jones received the baton for the final leg, he was sitting in seventh place by as much as 40 yards, according to a number of accounts.

Astonishingly, however, the senior made up the gap and then some as he crossed the finish line first to give Lampasas its only track and field championship in school history.

Saturday afternoon, Lampasas’ mile relay team consisting of Tom Lancaster, Mike Perkins, Leon McLendon, Jones and alternate Todd Schumann will be honored at the 84th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays held at the University of Texas at Austin campus at 1:30 p.m.

Once the ceremony is over, Jones and his teammates plan to do something they were unable to do after winning the state championship: take a victory lap.

Following the unbelievable finish to the state meet, the crowd rushed the field from the stands, preventing the group from taking a celebratory lap around the track.

“I’ve been able to travel the world, and I’ve run victory laps in Europe and at the Olympics,” Jones said. “We never got to run a victory lap. I thought it would really be neat for those guys to get to run a victory lap.”

The Texas Relays will also be the jumping-off point as Jones launches the Sinjin Relay of Champions for Champions benefiting the Children’s Cancer Fund. The event is named in honor of Lampasas junior Sinjin Andrukates, who is suffering from a rare form of cancer.

Jones also wants to use the Texas Relays as an opportunity to celebrate the town that rallied around himself and his teammates 35 years ago.

“We’re having a big tailgate party, and everyone is invited,” Jones said. “It’s for anybody who has ever participated in a sport for Lampasas, supported a Lampasas athlete or anyone who has ever felt a connection with Lampasas.”

The party will be at Lot 70 of the Mike A. Myers Stadium parking lot.

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