The Kennedale boys and girls relay teams arent simply heading to Austin to compete during this weekends Class 3A state track and field meet.
Theyre planning to win.
And for the girls 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays, the goals dont only include gold medals, but state records.
The girls enter the state meet with the fastest qualifying times in both the 4x100- and 4x200-meter events, including the 46.66 seconds they ran in the 4x100 last month at the regional meet in Lubbock. The mark is one-hundredth of a second ahead of the state meet record one they intend to have after this weekend.
I knew that they had had some success in the past, so it was just a matter of keeping the girls focused and understanding what they actually had, coach Jimyria Woodard said. I did notice that the mindset about winning the state championship was somewhat new to some of them, or breaking records was something new to them.
But winning at the state level and breaking records is now part of the culture of the track program at Kennedale. Both Woodard and boys coach Leon Paul are in their first year with the school, and already theyre making their marks.
When I came in I told them my standards and told them we were making it to state this year and were not just going to show up and run, but were going to compete for a state championship, Paul said. I told them that in January, and they didnt really believe me until we started doing these workouts that I brought to Kennedale. They started seeing their times drop and we kept dropping each week. We went down to regionals and broke the regional record in the 4x200.
The boys 4x100 team enters the state meet with the sixth-fastest qualifying time and the 4x200 is fourth best. But Paul is certain they can improve on their times.
We watched film from the regional meet and we saw a lot of errors that we can fix that made our times not as fast as they should be, Paul said. When I pointed out on film where we were slowing down a little bit and running out of gas a little bit, they saw themselves doing it and went out the next day at practice we ran all the way through the exchanges. I think that can get us going from a 1:27 to a 1:25.
The fastest boys 4x200 qualifying time is 1:26.49.
Junior sprinter Leon Powell was chosen captain by his teammates, which include Juwan Washington, Sterling Dickens, Patrick Lovings, Donny Darville and Ejinio Rico. Powell admits he was skeptical before the season about how far the relay teams could go.
I dont think any of us believed that we had a shot, he said. But as time went on, we kind of bought into the workouts and we thought if we want to get better we have to buy into it. Now I believe we can accomplish anything if we just put our work into the practices that our coach gives us.
Senior Chianne Lowe serves as an inspirational leader for teammates Toni ONeal, Hailey Patterson and DeAndrea Powell. Lowe, who had a baby in September, anchors the relays.
I was excited to come back, Lowe said. I knew everything I could do and had done before, but I was nervous I wouldnt be what I was my sophomore year, that I wasnt going to have any of the power back.
Woodard is sure that Lowe is ready to shine, though. Shes a big-stager; shes a gamer, Woodard said.
The relay teams arent the whole story, though. Fred Scott will also represent the Wildcats in Austin. The North Texas football signee qualified in shot put in his first year in the event.
After Scott pulled a hamstring early in the track season, Paul suggested that he avoid jeopardizing his football future and take up something else. Scott took his coachs advice and began to shot put.
He was a surprise to the whole track team, Paul said. Hes just an added bonus, so Im excited about him as well.
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