The temperature might be dropping, but student runners are feeling the heat. The Bradwell Institute Tigers hit the pavement running, hurdling, throwing and leaping into the upcoming track season.
Track coach DeAndre Davis said he has a young squad, but many competed last season.
"The majority of our kids are sophomores," he said. "We have a couple of juniors and about three seniors. The nucleus of our team last year was predominately freshmen like Anthony Holsendolph and Marsalis Jackson."The coach said the team has worked hard in the weight room during the off season and he thinks by the time the region tournaments come around, "you will see all the hard work pay off."
Davis said there are pros and cons to having a young team, especially in the shot put category.
"The good thing is, the kids are young so you are basically starting from scratch," he said. "The bad thing is, we lost Shaquille Russell, who would normally put up 20 points for us in the track meets. Somebody like him is hard to replace, but we have two sophomores and a junior who will hopefully help us out. Right now, they are learning, but in the long run, we’ll be OK."
While finding a replacement for Russell in the shot put event might be tough, the coach said he expects another great season from runners Camille Jackson and Quintunya Chapman for the girls and Holsendolph and Jackson for the boys.
Davis said the Tigers’ track team will primarily compete at invitational tournaments this season, which will increase the runners’ recuperation time between meets, potentially resulting in higher placing for events.
He said the team’s first meet is coming up in Statesboro.
"Then we are going to Brooklet," Davis said. "We will also be going to Lowndes this season and it’s been a while since we competed there, but there is some good competition at that one."
The coach said by choosing their tournaments and competing against talented track schools, his team will have a chance to experience the type of competition commonly seen at the state level.
"Last season, it was like a culture shock to our kids because, regionally, they were doing fine, but when you get us against some of the top teams in the state, I think it was a hard thing for our kids to adjust to and deal with," Davis said.
He said he’ll likely have 20 boys and 13 girls on the team.