|04/11/12 - |
Even after Saturday’s Reirdon Relays at the Craig McBroom Football Complex, Ada track coach Nathan Elliott doesn’t expect to know a lot more about his youngest squad ever than he does heading into the first meet of the season for the bulk of his team.
“I’ve always looked at the early meets as just improving,” said Elliott, who is in his fifth season as head coach of the Cougars. “We go compete, but I’ve never been concerned about how many points we score early. A lot of it is just getting in shape and getting ready for the regional meet the first of May.
“I just stress to the kids to get better,” he added. “These early meets are like live practice.”
Elliott lost three of his team leaders — Nick Anderson (pole vault and long jump), Christian Johnson (third in Class 5A in the high jump) and Travis Cowan (who won a state champion in the 330 Meter Hurdles and anchored the Ada sprint relay team) — to graduation and returned only five members of his 2011 team this spring. Colin Earle and Steven Davidson will compete in distance events, Chase Bowker and Shane West return at the shorter distances, and Nathan Blakley — who won’t compete Saturday because of an injury — will run the 400 Meters and the Mile Relay.
In fact, nine of the 17 members of the team Elliott will field this weekend are freshmen.
“As far as our overall team, we’re really young,” he said. “We graduated Nick, Christian and Travis last year. I only have five guys back, but we had some guys come out and I’ve got nine freshmen running with the high school team.
“The good thing is we have a lot of potentially good young kids,” Elliott said. “They work their tails off. They just need to get some experience.”
A key to his team’s success this season, Elliott said, is the leadership provided by his returnees.
“One thing I’ve noticed is our returning guys are doing a good job of bringing those younger guys along,” he said. “It’s a real hard-working group, and they’re really good kids. I think we’ll be competitive by the end of the year.”
Ada will be one of nine teams in the Reirdon field, and although no team point totals will be kept, Elliott said the Shawnee boys and girls will be among the top teams in action Saturday.
“Shawnee’s boys and girls teams are both good,” he noted. “I haven’t seen any of the other teams who will be there.”
In addition to the Cougars, the Reirdon field will include teams from Coalgate, Byng, Sulphur, Shawnee, Idabel, McAlester, Tishomingo and Atoka.
Coach Drake Daniels’ Ada girls squad won’t have the numbers of Elliott’s team, but the Lady Cougars have three seniors — Charisma Graham, Victoria Lotter and Jenna Huling — who are complemented by talented sophomores Aaliyah Blakley and Markeisha Black and freshmen Jayden Green, Olivia Wells, Rhyleigh Cooper and Addison Rhynes.
Reirdon, who won track state championships at Ada High in the 1970s, is expected to be on hand for Saturday’s meet. The meet will also honor former Cougars and Lady Cougars who won state titles or set school records during their careers.