Gerald Smith has seen a lot of athletes in his many seasons coaching L.D. Bell track and field.
So when he says his teams will once again be contenders in District 7-6A, it would behoove opposing teams to listen.
“Since I haven’t seen all the teams yet, it is hard to say, but you can always count on Coppell, Carroll, Bell [and] Trinity being strong contenders,” Smith said.
Smith noted that his teams’ strengths this season will be in field events and sprints for both boys and girls.
The Raiders return senior Jaylin Brooks (long jump triple, 400-meter dash, 800 relay, 1600 relay), sophomore Jorge Ramirez (high jump), seniors Sutton Stanfield and Cordell Rodriguez in the pole vault, junior Ricky Walton (100, 200, relays), senior Jonathan Castillo (100, relays) and senior Ben Yerigan in the 110 and 300 hurdles.
Brooks was a regional qualifier last season in the triple jump, as were Walton and Castillo on the 400 and 800 relays.
The Lady Raiders return junior Anisha Garner (long jump, triple jump, relays), senior Sidra Triplett (shot put, discus), junior Sophia Ahmed (pole vault), senior Araya Fetters (800, 1600, 1600 relay), junior Mikaela Firasek (3200, 1600), senior Brittney Murray (200, relays), junior Tamara Jones (long jump, 100, 200, relays), junior Lois Wallach (800, 400, 1600 relay), junior Kiara Posey (100, 200, relays) and senior Alyssa Busbee (300 hurdles).
Wallach reached regionals in the 800 last season, while all four members of the 800 relay (Jones, Murray, Garner, Posey) are also back.
Newcomers who could make an impact for the boys, Smith said, include junior Derek Thomas (long jump, triple jump, relays), senior Keinen Brown (high jump), senior Ramish Maida (high jump), junior Colton Sizemore (800) and junior Remon Toto (800, 1600).
As for the girls, freshman Haven Sizemore could be a force in the 800, 400 and 1600 relay, Smith said.
As with all sports in District 7-6A, track is very competitive, with some of the top teams in the state. To properly prepare, Smith has entered his teams in some very tough meets.
“I feel like we’ve picked some really good meets to get our kids ready for the championship part of the season,” he said. “We want to expose our kids to really good competition and build confidence in their ability to compete in all areas.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the kids grow and progress each week.”