DHS track team set for meet

Published 12:43 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Demopolis High track team will head to its second meet of the season Saturday when it visits Oak Mountain. In the early stages of the program’s first season with its own track and field facility, coaches Rudy Griffin and Rodney Rowser are pleased with the young squad’s progress.

“We did really well for being our first track meet. We’ve got a lot of newcomers. We’re excited about our relay teams,” Griffin, the team’s head coach, said. “I think we’ve got a chance to be a lot better this year than we were last year and that speaks volumes.”

A season ago, the Tigers fielded a competitive group that saw one of its boys relay teams finish third in the state.This year, Griffin and Rowser are hopeful to land boys and girls individual and team runners at that state meet.

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“The (boys 4-by-400 relay team) won its heat,” Rowser said of quartet’s first outing at Vestavia Hills last weekend. “They had a great time. They had a 4:37 in the mile relay.”

That 4-by-400 group includes first leg runner Rodney Harper, second sprinter Larry Cobb, third leg runner Dalvin Harris and anchor Terrance Charleston.

Cobb shows himself as the quartet’s veteran, acting as the only returning member to a team that saw sprinters Greg Irvin, Bryan Taylor and Kevin Norman graduate from last year’s group.

“Larry was the only one left from that third place team that finished at the state championship last year,” Rowser said of Cobb, who has also shown promise in other areas. “Larry did well in the long jump last week. He finished in the top 10 overall.”

While the boys are continuing their productivity from a season ago, it is the girls that are showing signs of having a breakout season.

“The girls, awesome,” Rowser said of the performance turned in by the team’s female contingent at the Vestavia Hills meet. “We had a relay team where only one girl had run track. She was in Michigan in the ninth grade last time she ran track. She’s in the 11th grade now. The rest of them are basketball players.”

That inexperienced team showed its greenness in the first meet, but also gave Rowser reason to believe they can contend with anyone given a little seasoning.

“They ran out of the zone and got disqualified,” Rowser said of the girls 4-by-100 relay team. “But they ran well. Hopefully we’ve got that taken care of and we should perform well Saturday. The 4-by-400 (girls team) performed well also. I’m really excited about the girls.”

The 4-by-100 team consisting of Demekeia Marshall, Shadijiah Moore, Catrina Benison and Janiya Davis spent a good portion of the week working on its exchanges. Benison, Moore and Marshall have gotten a little extra practice at handoffs by virtue of the fact that they make up the bulk of the 4-by-400 team that also includes anchor Shenique Collier.

DHS coach said the learning process has been helped along by the team’s first season to practice on its own track.

“It gets them to understand the differences in the exchange zones on the relays,” Rowser said.

Additionally, the new facility has helped runners and field athletes in other ways. Griffin said the marked off areas for field events have helped jumpers and throwers tremendously while the presence of the track itself has saved the team considerable time.

“We don’t have to do like we did last year, driving to (R.C. Hatch High School in Uniontown) and wasting time,” Griffin said.

The new facility also gives the 2010 team advantages its predecessors did not have in the surface that it provides to runners.

“It’s a lot of difference,” Rowser said, comparing the new track to the parking lot surface runners have used for years. “This is rubber compared to asphalt. It’s better on your knees where asphalt won’t give at all.”

While the relay teams are providing plenty of buzz, Rowser also has high expectations for a number of the group’s individual sprinters, including Benison and Marshall.

“Catrina (Benison) and (Demekeia) Marshall, in the (100-meter dash) ran exceptionally well,” Rowser said. “We’re looking for some great things out of those two.”

Rowser said the team will take between 25 and 30 athletes to Saturday’s meet.