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Junior Shaka Bogan hurdles past the competition.

Junior Shaka Bogan hurdles past the competition.

Photo provided by Kirk Harris

Photo provided by Kirk Harris

Junior Shaka Bogan hurdles past the competition.

Claire Bunn, Editor

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Track athletes have been diligently training since the beginning of March, and that hard work began to pay off at their first few meets of the season with many top finishes and impressive showings for boys and girls alike.

On March 30, at the meet in Sherwood,  the team reached many new personal records (PRs) and worked to hone their skills.

At their meet in Jonesboro, on April 10, the boys’ team took home second overall while the girls’ team placed third overall.

The following males placed first in their events: Ebony Roberts in pole vault; a team comprised of Ashton McAnally, Christian Gilbert, Malik Blackwell and Henry Mulder in the 4×800 meter relay; Shaka Bogan in the 110 meter hurdles; a second relay team of Bogan, Treyvon Young, Rickey Patterson and  Devin Lockhart in the 4×100 meter relay; and a third relay team of Mulder, Young, Bogan and D’shan Sanders in the 4×400 meter relay.

Many of the girls also competed well, and a relay team composed of runners Tiffany Harris, Grace Rutledge, Malea Barlow and Laylah Gasca took home first in the 4×800 meter relay.

Photo provided by Tina Harris
From left to right, Shaka Bogan, Devin Lockhart, Rickey Patterson and Treyvon Young pause for a picture after winning the 4x100 meter relay.

With nearly fifty high school athletes, the team participates in field events like high jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault, throwing events, such as discus and shot put and running events, including three relays, hurdling races and runs ranging anywhere from 100 meters to 3200 meters.

The sheer number of athletes on the team drives competition for varsity spots and continuously pushes each athlete to do better, but the team remains close-knit, brought together by hours of intense training and long bus rides to and from meets.

“Competition is what forces us to be the best person or athlete that we can be,” Coach Chelsea Weaver-Smith, who coaches alongside Coach John Crossley, expressed. “Without that competition, we might just be stagnant and not feel the need to continue training hard or keep working toward a goal, but there is a camaraderie within that competitiveness. Each person on the team is proud of their teammates, no matter what they do.”

That sense of competition coupled with team camaraderie and support is what drives star hurdler Bogan, who also took home second in hurdles at the indoor state track meet in February.

“I really love the competition, and in track, you create your own destiny,” Bogan grinned. “I just try to stay positive, keep progressing, try to encourage my teammates every day and try to set the example.”

Since April is full of track meets, sometimes twice in one week, the team tries to stay focused on improving their form, mentality, confidence and strategy, as well as recovery and proper nutrition. Most of their fitness training comes during March, and April serves a time to fine-tune their skills before the conference meet on April 26, and the state meet on May 3, where Weaver-Smith expects a strong showing from both her boys’ and girls’ teams.

However, the meets are about much more than first place medals for the track team. The work ethic, determination and teamwork that athletes require to succeed are skills that will serve them well beyond the track.

“I hope they learn how to work for something bigger than themselves,” Weaver-Smith said.

Thanks to rigorous mental and physical training, the track team is well prepared for a strong season. Come support them at their only home meet on Thursday, April 12. For more strong finishes, click the link below to see results from the recent Jonesboro track meet.  

http://ar.milesplit.com/meets/303941/results#.Ws5nKNcrK1s

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