Rabbs, Lady Rabbs win district titles
By Tim Emmons
Atlanta’s track program is legendary across the state, and this season was one to remember.
From junior high to varsity the Rabbit track program showcased why they are known for being successful on the oval.
Last Wednesday the District 14-4A track meet was hosted by Atlanta. Going into Thursday the Runnin’ Rabbs were down in the point standings, but the Lady Rabb were up by a large margin.
By the end of the event on Thursday both programs were crowned district champions.
For the boys, it was title 27 in 30 years and for the girls it was the first title since 1999.
The varsity boys entered day two down by a few points but left no doubt by the end of the event as they racked up 208 points. L-E was a distant second at 118.5 and North Lamar was third with 97 points.
In field events Trin Taylor placed first in the long jump at 21 feet, 4 inches and Luke Anthony was fifth at 19 feet, 8 1/2 inches; Desmond Robinson was third in the shot put with a toss of 45 feet, 3 inches; Shun Hunter was second in the discus with a toss of 135 feet, 7 inches; Taylor was fourth in the triple jump at 42 feet, 8 1/4 inches; Tristan Allen placed fourth in the high jump at 6 feet even and Hunter Belk placed sixth in the pole vault at 9 feet even.
On the oval Jawan King and Kelton Young placed 1-2 at 11.09 and 11.10 in the 100m dash; in the 200m dash King placed second at 22.61 and Ahmad Dickerson third at 22.84; Anthony placed first at 51.84 and Belk fifth at 53.37 in the 400m dash; Calvin Rowe placed first in the 100m hurdles at 15.66 followed by Josh Edwards at 15.69 in second place and Jordan Brigham in fourth place at 16.42 and in the 300m hurdles Edwards placed first at 40.34 followed by Rowe at 40.81 in second place and Connor Samples sixth at 44.55.
In the 800m run Dagen Ward, Cade Rosser and Cameron Carney placed 3-4-6 with times of 2:04.92, 2:05.53 and 2:07.66 respectively; Ward placed third in the 1600m at 4:48.02 and in the 3200m run Ward placed third at 10:50.83, Cameron Kendrick placed fourth at 11:01.83 and Josiah Henderson placed sixth at 11:18.93.
The lead didn’t seem as close as years prior but the relay team still showed up when needed against a tough field of competition.
The 4x100 team of Austin Brown, Young, Taylor and King placed first at 42.08; the 4x200m team of Brown, Young, Taylor and Desmond Webster placed first at 1:28.31 and the 4x400m team of Brown, Taylor, Rowe and Anthony placed first at 3:27.79.
Head Coach Nick Miller had this to say after the event had wrapped up.
“It always feels great to win the district title, because it belongs in Atlanta. This year was very special to our staff because our boys and girls won district. We have a boys and girls team, but we all coach and support everyone out there and it was a great moment to see both sides come out on top,” Miller said. “The thing you cannot forget is that we are in one of the most, if not the most, competitive and talented districts in the state in 4A, so when you win district you are defeating some of the best competition Texas has to offer.”
“We try not to talk much about speed or talent, but more about toughness, desire and competitiveness. These guys are bought in. They truly believe they cannot be beat because no one can push as far or as hard as they can. They believe in themselves and each other,” Miller remarked. “Coach Farmer and I are very lucky to be able to coach these athletes. They are dedicated to the program and are determined to make it all the way. This sport is not about speed or talent, it’s about who wants it more. It’s about kids that are willing to give everything they have and more, sacrifice themselves for the team and be the toughest and most competitive athletes out there.”
“Coach Farmer and I want to say thank you to the athletes for their work, dedication and performance. We would also like to thank Coach McClure and the assistant coaches: Joel Morris, Will Allen, Ian Walraven, Jarrod Boston, Chris Block and Quen Banks for not only their coaching but dedication to the athletes,” Miller continued. “Lastly, a big thanks from the entire staff and team to the community for coming out to watch and support our athletes at district and your dedication to our kids. We still have a lot of season left and it’s going to be exciting.”
The varsity girls won their first title since my graduating year of 1999, and a big reason was the field events scores and the 3200m score after the first day put Atlanta up by more than 40 points.
What’s more impressive is that the Lady Rabbs only boast 15 athletes where other schools tend to stack athletes in each event.
The ladies ended up with 185, L-E had 168 and Pleasant Grove had 79.
In field events Starr Davis placed first and Haley Sprayberry third although they both had the same mark of 7 feet, 6 inches; Keyona Easter placed second and Sprayberry fourth in the high jump at 5 feet even and 4 feet, 8 inches; Teshuna Sheppard placed first in the triple jump at 39 feet even and India Cooper fifth at 33 feet, 2 3/4 inches; Sheppard placed second in the long jump at 16 feet, 10 inches; Burleson was second in the shot put at 30 feet, 9 1/2 inches and Burleson and Ty Harris placed 3-4 in the discus with tosses of 88 feet, 5 inches and 87 feet, 1 inch.
In the 3200m event run on day one Hannah Wicks dominated and finished with a big lead as she crossed the finish line at 12:23.32.
In the 100m dash Aniya King placed first at 12.44 and Alyssa Simmons placed sixth at 13.05; in the 200m dash King placed third at 25.59; Danni Arredondo placed third at 1:03.47 in the 400m dash and Cooper placed fourth in the 100m hurdles at 17.45 and third in the 300m hurdles at 47.63.
In the 800m run Wicks and Arredondo placed 1-2 at 2:26.34 and 2:28.88 and in the 1600m run Wicks placed first at 5:39.65.
In the relay events the 4x100m team of King, Simmons, Easter and Sheveonia Smith placed second at 49.61; the 4x200m team of Jasmine Moore, Easter, Simmons and Sheppard placed second at 1:44.38 and the 4x400m team of Sheppard, Easter, Richonda Harris and Smith placed second at 4:07.99.
Girls’ head coach Jarrick Farmer had this to say after the event about his team and how they performed.
“It has been 18 years since the girls have won a district championship and to win with this group is huge for our female program as they all (young and old) are able to see the product of hard work and doing things right,” Farmer said. “We still have voids to fill which is a good thing when your building success and moving forward. I think our district/region is one of the toughest in the state and we are ranked pretty high in many categories.”
“I think we did well overall considering this was accomplished with 15 total females, three of which throw and only two jump only so all together only ten girls actually run,” Farmer remarked. “Teshuna Sheppard, Hannah Wicks, Aniya King continue to wear gold for us on a weekly basis. There are girls doing things they would have never imagined themselves doing and of course they do them well obviously. I could not ask for a better group of girls to break these barriers with.”
The junior varsity boys finished second just nine points back from topping Paris, but were 80 points ahead of third place Liberty-Eylau.
In the field events Cade Fant and Jared Cowgill placed 2-3 in the shot put with tosses of 35 feet, 11 inches and 35 feet, 9 inches respectively.
Jeremiah Hatley and Davion Collins placed 1-2 in the discus with tosses of 94 feet, 8 inches and 94 feet, 7 1/4 inches; Trayvon Powell placed second in the high jump at 5 feet, 4 inches and Blake Lummus placed fourth in the pole vault with a mark of 8 feet, 6 inches.
In the running events Reggie Blaylock placed first in the 100m dash at 11.64 followed by teammate Drae Nelson in third place at 11.90; Powell finished first in the 400m dash at 53.44, Caleb Coleman second at 54.15 and John Fields sixth at 55.96 and Christian Lopez placed fifth in the 300m hurdles at 46.83.
In the 800m run Jordan Prignit placed first at 2:18.92, Chase Haskins was second at 2:19.87 and Jacob Nash claimed fourth at 2:20.91.
In the 1600m run Prignit and Mitchell Winders placed 3-4 at 5:23.86 and 5:24.44, and in the 3200m run Winders and Prignit placed 3-4 with times of 12:12.04 and 12:22.02.
In the relay events the 4x100m team of Coleman, Nelson, Powell and Cullen Richardson placed third at 45.74; the 4x200m team of Richardson, Keyonta King, Demontrae Collins and Damante Fezell placed third at 1:37.05 and the 4x400m team of Powell, Fields, Haskins and Coleman placed first at 3:40.12.
The junior varsity girls placed third overall.
In the field events Jaden Stroman placed first in the pole vault with a mark of 7 feet even; Lois Wimsatt placed first in the high jump at 4 feet, 8 inches; Kitty McCauley placed fourth in the triple jump at 29 feet, 5 inches and fifth in the long jump at 13 feet even; Melanie Faulkner placed second in the shot put at 25 feet, 4 1/2 inches and Dyamond Grant and Faulkner placed 2-3 in the discus with throws of 75 feet, 7 1/2 inches and 75 feet, 6 inches.
On the track, McCauley placed first in the 100m hurdles at 18.31 and first in the 300m hurdles at 52.42 with teammate Devin Ulmer finishing second in the 300m at 56.08 and Neci Larry placed third in the 100m dash at 13.95.
Coming out of the Carthage meet boys head coach Nick Miller pulled his team together and challenged them and himself moving forward.
“After we lost the Carthage meet by six points which isn’t bad to most in a big meet like that, but we had a team meeting afterwards and I challenged them, they challenged themselves and I challenged myself to do everything in our power to fix the issue,” Miller said “What issue you ask? We didn’t compete the way we agreed to at the beginning of the year. We don’t prioritize speed, talent, etc. on our team, our kids dedicate themselves to being tough and out competing the other teams.”
“We had some stellar performances at Carthage, and most teams would have been happy with that second-place finish but we were not because we agreed to compete harder than everyone and push ourselves further than everyone and we didn’t,” Miller said.
Miller also commented on how his squad prepared for the Kaufman meet and got ready for district.
“They had a great, focused week of practice (over spring break) training on Saturday etc., and we got to Kaufman which was a different area than we had ran at before, but would benefit from seeing teams in our area/region,” Miller replied. “We competed. Everyone competed as hard as they could. Winning that meet was huge for us going into district because it re-lit that fire we had a few weeks ago and I don’t see that fire going out anytime soon.”
“As for district, we are ready. These kids are working hard every day, pushing themselves to the max and then some. They are dedicated to the program and each other. They are determined to be the toughest competitors on the track and truly believe that being just that along with the undeniable hard work they have put in will bring them success,” Miller said.
“You cannot convince these kids they are going to lose and they get excited when it’s time to go out and prove it. Our district is very, very competitive. Each team is tough and will bring a lot of athletes that are going to perform well. Everyone knows that L-E is our biggest rival each year and it is always a close battle on points with them. That is no different this year, because once again they have a great track team that ranks up there with any team in 4A,” Miller continued. “When you take them and add Paris, North Lamar, Pittsburg, and PG you got a tough meet. Having said that, I feel confident because of the attitude, work and unity of our team that we are ready to go defend our district title.”
Those words from Coach Miller were solidified this past week as not only did the boys top L-E, but they did so by more than 89 points.