WAYNESVILLE — Thursday at Tiger Stadium Waynesville Track and Field had its first meet of the new season, albeit an Open Meet, and coach Mike Rawlings got a good look at what he has in his arsenal.
Despite some serious turnover from last season, which included the loss of two state qualifiers in Dorothy Adams (now running at Missouri Valley) and Desean Stokes (thrower for Central Methodist), Rawlings saw some promising things out of his group.
“I thought we saw a lot of positive things to build on,” Rawlings said. “The younger, inexperienced kids learned some things today that will help them make improvements throughout the season.”
Not only that, but some of the talent he is returning appears to be picking up right where they left off. No times were reported at the Open, but Rawlings was occasionally keeping hand-times so he could keep tabs on some of his runners.
This season, Rawlings is expecting some big things out of a few of his returning talent.
Ariel Okorie finished sixth in the state in 100-meter hurdles last year as a freshman. She showed some serious flash at the open.
Seniors Angel Jones and Caprina Stewart are 4x1 and 4x2 state qualifiers in the relay.
Daren Martinez, a junior, was a sectional qualifier last year in the 4x1.
Seniors Jacob Semple and George Conttrell have thrown for the Tigers for four years.
David Hawk set the freshman record in pole vault last year and junior Najim Udchachon was a state qualifier in cross country.
A couple of kids that are fresh to the program stood out last night to Rawlings too.
“Sophomore Kendrick Jordan, [freshman] Trey Eddy and [sophomore] Kain Youman,” Rawlings said. “For running in their first meet at the high school level, they showed some explosiveness that we hadn't seen in practice yet.”
It's always tough after graduating a large class of seniors, but the important things are to keep a positive outlook and set realistic goals for the team. Rawlings is doing that.
“We just want to see continued improvement in our young and inexperienced kids,” Rawlings said. “Then, we just want to do as well as we can in the Ozark Conference Meet.”
On a lighter note, last night was the first meet on the new track and field at Tiger Stadium for not only the Waynesville team, but some of the visitors. The beautiful facilities became the talk of the open.
“Everything up there at the new track is top-notch and we heard a lot of positive things last night from the other coaches,” Rawlings said.