Alice assistant track and field coach Joey Heron and athletic director Kyle Atwood watched the boys’ 800-meter relay team run in the finals at the Region IV-5A meet in San Antonio two weeks ago.

They saw the race from a distance in Alamo Stadium, and from that vantage point, Alice’s strength was evident with each baton exchange. The Coyotes’ ability to make clean and flawless handoffs made the team one of the best in the region and it should help the team fit in at the Class 5A state meet in which Alice will face some of the fastest high school runners in Texas.

Alice track coach Derek Alambar said handoffs usually make a difference in a short event like the 400-meter relay, but Alice has been so perfect so far that it’s given the team an advantage against others.

“Our handoffs were big in us advancing to state,” Alambar said. “I don’t know that we have the foot speed that some of the relay teams from Austin and Houston have, but I think our handoffs are much better and that puts us right there with them.”

The relay team of senior Sean Molina, Orlando Espinoza, junior Sean Chapa and sophomore Weston Moore is running at the UIL State Track and Field Championships at Mike A. Myers on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. The team is competing Friday evening.

The group is the fastest Alice High School has ever produced in the 800-meter relay, but the state meet puts Alice on the same track with some speedsters. Alice’s best time in the event is 1:27.93, which puts them at eighth in a field of nine teams. The fastest time in the event belongs to Mansfield Legacy. It’s a time of 1:24.40.

It’s a stacked field, but Alambar believes anything can happen in those 800 meters, and if Alice is again clean with its handoffs and rises to the occasion, the Coyotes can compete on that stage.

“It’s tough in Class 5A,” he said. “There is some really tough competition, but I think our kids will be pumped up running there in Austin. They know it’s their last race of the season and they’ll run their hearts out. I expect out fastest time of the season Friday.”

The Alice relay team advanced to the state track and field meet by placing second in the 800-meter relay at regionals. If was the toughest field the Coyotes faced up to that point of the season, but they pulled it out at the end.

Molina trailed in the final leg of the race but closed the gap and edged ahead in the final 25 meters. Alice’s official time was 1:27.93, all of four-hundredths of a second ahead of second-place LBJ. The team shattered the Alice High School record they set in the event in the preliminaries a day either.

The team set a new Alice High School record in the 800-meter relay with a time of 1:29.03.