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DHS hits track in Hoover

Demopolis track launches its season today when it travels to Hoover for its first meet of 2009.

“I’m looking for big seasons from seasoned veterans,” first-year DHS track coach Rudy Griffin said. That group of veterans includes Brian Taylor, Greg Irvin, Dalvin Harris, Larry Cobb, Wally Isaac, James Wilson and Kiandre Adams.

Griffin said many of his runners have picked up considerable speed in recent weeks. He credits the speed increased to the athletes’ daily weight room workout with athletic director Tom Causey.

While Griffin expects his male runners to be competitive with the 39 other teams that will be present at today’s meet, he is also seeking contributions from his female athletes.

“The girls have really been surprising,” Griffin said of a group that includes Ashya Samuels, Zhana James, Maygan Page and Jennie Campbell. Griffin has also been impressed with thrower Nikki Gaitor, who competes with the track athletes during practice.

“She pushes the runners,” Griffin said. “She doesn’t have to do that, so I appreciate that. A lot of the players say they really like the vibe on this track team.”

The 2009 Tiger track team has 32 athletes, the largest number the program has boasted in recent years.

The atmosphere surrounding the program is enriched by the return of assistant coach Rodney Rowser, a former DHS and Troy University track standout.

“That’s a big help, especially having somebody who ran track at the collegiate level,” Griffin said of Rowser. “That’s eventually what is going to take this program to the next level.”

In addition to the return of Rowser, the 2009 team has the luxury of working with Griffin.

“I’ve been around track my whole life,” Griffin said. “When I was growing up, that’s what I did all throughout my summers.”

Griffin, who was a discus thrower during his competitive days, has embraced the opportunity to get reacquainted with the sport.

“This isn’t something I’m doing just because I’ve got to coach another sport,” Griffin said. “I love the smell of the asphalt when you walk on it. It’s an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport.”