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Demopolis hosts first track event in school history

Monday was less about results and more about repetition for the Demopolis track program as it hosted its first ever event, welcoming Linden and Sumter County in for a casual competition.

“It is great to start to get the community’s awareness of track up,” head track coach Rudy Griffin said. “We had a great crowd.”

For decades, the Demopolis track team practiced on the asphalt surrounding the school or any other surface on which it could run. At times, the team would travel to schools such as R.C. Hatch just to be ready for meets. This year, the team has enjoyed its first opportunity to make the most of an on-campus facility. And Monday, Griffin and assistant coach Rodney Rowser opened the gates up to two other local schools.

“This is going to be ongoing. We have great athletes in this area,” Griffin said. “That helps us big time. It gets old beating up on your brothers and sisters. But to get out there and run against somebody else will help us on Saturdays at big meets.”

“To have to put it together, I was nervous,” Rowser, who has long been involved in the program both as an athlete and a coach, said. “It did turn out smooth. I’m just satisfied. I’m completely happy with the way it turned out, even the spectators.”

Rowser and Griffin each praised the support the program has been given by athletic director Tom Causey and first-year DHS principal Leon Clark as it has continued to grow this year.

“Whatever you need, you can get it,” Rowser said. “they’ve been real supportive. I can look up at practice and there is Mr. Clark. And you can’t say enough about Coach Causey.”

“It’s outstanding to have the athletic director, Coach Causey, and the principal, Mr. Clark, behind you,” Griffin said. “For (Clark) to be visible is big for us. For them to support us like they do is 100 percent wonderful.”

The event was the school’s first opportunity to test its facilities and gauge what it may still need to do in order to host a larger meet. In the meantime, the program took the opportunity to help out some of its neighbors.

“It helps them a lot,” Rowser said of Linden and Sumter County’s participation in the event. “We’ve been in that situation where they are now with not having a track.”

The participation of Class 1A Linden and Class 3A Sumter County also figures to give Demopolis a boost as it goes into Saturday’s Falcon Invitational at Central High School. That proved a valuable thing for a girl’s 4-by-400 relay team that is undergoing some changes.

“On the girls side of the 4-by-4, we changed the running order,” Rowser said. “We wanted to shake it up some to see if we run faster. For the boys side, they won the 4-by-4 (Monday). They just didn’t run as fast as they normally do. This is something we pushed them in. That is going to pay off.”