• Photo by KENISHA WEBSTER

Lady Rabbs bring home gold, silver medals

It’s amazing what a new season can bring in terms of sports.
A year ago Atlanta’s boys’ track team won state and TeShuna Sheppard was the lone representative for the Lady Rabbs.
This year the Lady Rabbs’ track program reached the precipice of success and dove over head first.
Head Coach Jarrick Farmer knew he had something special in the works from the beginning.
“As a program we have been on the cusp of greater success and this year we were able to break through that barrier and had a successful run,” Farmer said. “I knew early on we had some solid competitors and that if things fell right we could make a good run at a state title.”
Track coaches spend a decent amount of time plugging different runners in certain areas depending on their strengths and weaknesses.
“When I looked at the relay team I had five good runners in Chelsea Simmons, Jennifer Easter, Sheveonia Smith, Alyssa Simmons and Keyona Easter,” Farmer remarked. “I knew although Keyona was a sophomore and Chelsea was a freshman they would both fit in well on varsity. Putting the right girls in the right places was about growth, pressure and adversity and who could handle each of those well.”
In the end the 4x100m relay was Chelsea to Alyssa to Keyona to Sheveonia with Jennifer as an alternate.
That group placed second overall at 46.96 during the regional run and the 4x200m relay which was Chelsea, to Keyona to Alyssa to Sheveonia placed second overall at 1:40.19.
Sheveonia also placed second at regionals in the 300m hurdles after not running them before.
All of those races came against stout competition and a neat aspect is the fact that all classes were represented.
Chelsea is a freshman, Keyona a sophomore, Sheveonia a junior and Alyssa a senior.
“I had the right lineup for the relays and they made great strides throughout the season which is why I wasn’t surprised they made it to the state level,” Farmer added.
Another neat standout Coach Farmer points to is the opportunity given to take the Lady Rabbs’ athletic program as a whole and be able to train more.
“One of the biggest parts of the turnaround is that Coach [Matt] McClure allowed me to start up summer lifting programs for the ladies and strength and conditioning which is something I’ve been doing for quite some time throughout my career,” Farmer said. “We have gotten stronger in many areas and other sports because of it and we have gotten faster as well.”
Going into the state meet Atlanta had solid numbers across the board, but the Lady Rabbs were possibly overlooked.
Coaches will tell you not to trust in numbers going into the state meet because it all goes out the window when you line up for a race.
“You have to trust the process and the girls really have done that and that speaks for itself on what they have been able to accomplish,” Farmer stated. “It’s strange how things work out which is why you can’t look at numbers solely. We finished second in district to a really good Liberty-Eylau team but finished third in state ahead of them so you just prepare the team for everything you know they are going to face.”
When asked about the state meet Sheveonia responded, “We were excited but also prepared.”
Chelsea said, “It was a big accomplishment for us  overall. Being able to run with the varsity and make it to state in the same season was amazing.”
Chelsea also added, “Although the crowd was bigger than any other meet we raced in I wasn’t nervous. I wanted to impress them and win and we were able to get two medals when it was over. When we stepped on the track it was gametime.”
The future is bright for the Lady Rabbs’ track program with solid talent coming up the pipeline, and a bar has been set for future squads.
With the direction set for the program that bar, and a state championship, is not out of reach.

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