Written by Brandon George
Track and field preview: Lancaster boys, Skyline girls seek fourth straight state titles
Lancaster boys coach Greg Williams said he has his work cut out in trying to guide his inexperienced team to a fourth consecutive Class 4A state title.
However, Williams’ first daunting task is trying to distinguish one athlete from the next.
Williams said it’s been chaos around practices because he has three sets of identical twins on his varsity. It was worse before last week, when another set of identical twins transferred to another school. Williams said he’s never coached twins before.
“I can’t tell any of them apart. It’s very difficult,” Williams said. “I just say, ‘twin,’ and they all look at me so I can give them all instruction.
“A lot of the coaches and kids can tell them apart, but it hasn’t clicked for me yet. That’s almost as big of a challenge as trying to win.”
Junior sprinters Paul and Jamaul Taylor are transfers from Pinkston.
Freshmen Anthony Robinson, a hurdler, and his twin, Anfernee, a sprinter, are sons of Anthony Robinson, a sprinter whom Williams coached in 1994 at Lancaster.
Freshmen D’Andre and D’Ante Thompson are on the team also. One is a hurdler, and one runs the 400 meters. But, adding to the confusion, Williams said he’s not sure which one does what.
What Williams does know is that his team will be led by standout sophomore Devin Field, SportsDay’s 2010 Newcomer of the Year. Field won the 4A state title last year in the long jump (22 feet, 61/2 inches) and led the area (24-21/2). Field will add the hurdles this year.
Lancaster lost 23 seniors but returns enough talent to make another run, including seniors Rodney Jones III and Cedric Gilbert and juniors Kedron Sowells and Reggie Hinson.
“Last year, I knew we’d be pretty decent with who all we had coming back,” Williams said. “I just don’t know how good we’re going to be this year. These kids have to learn how to run in big meets.”
Other area boys teams to watch
Distance runner Jake Roberts (Tex. A&M) and do-it-all Kyle Thompson (Tex. Tech) lead Eagles
Finished third at state meet last year and talented sprinter Aaron Scott is back
Coach Mark Brady’s always-talented relay teams make DeSoto a state-title contender
Speedster David Jenkins (LSU) and depth on relays will make Hawks a threat
Senior Marquise Smith is back to defend his 110 hurdles state title
Area boys to watch
Won 4A 100 meters state title (10.93 seconds)
Already posted two of the nation’s top indoor times this year in 200 (22.05) and 400 (48.07)
Baylor signee one of the state’s best in 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles
Texas Tech signee won 3A 300 hurdles state title (37.27)
Won 4A high jump state title (6 feet, 8 inches)
Texas signee second in 5A 3,200 (9:01.20) and third in 1,600 (4:15.18)
Texas A&M signee won 5A 110 hurdles state title (13.62) and was fourth in 300 hurdles (37.28)
Won 3A shot put state title (59 feet, 21/4 inches) despite broken right foot
Texas signee was second in 4A 100 (10.96 seconds) and anchored team’s 4x200 relay win (1:27.81)
TCU signee won 4A 400 meters state title (47.77 seconds)
Deep, experienced Skyline girls team knows what it takes to win state title
Skyline girls coach Chris Mitchell entered last season worried about his young team. But, in the end, there wasn’t anything to fret about as the Lady Raiders won their third consecutive Class 5A team title.
As for this year, Mitchell has a different outlook.
“I feel better this year than last year about our group of girls,” he said.
That’s not good news for the rest of the state’s 5A girls teams.
Mitchell has good reason for his optimism. Skyline, which has claimed six state team titles since 2002 and now has the most girls track team championships ever with nine, appears to be as deep as ever.
Seniors Breana Rossum, Kearra Haynes and Jasmine Webb should provide the leadership. Talented sophomores Bre’Yana Wash and A’lexus Henderson are back after standout freshman years.
Mitchell expects good seasons from junior Latricia Brooks, sophomore Takia Taylor and freshman Tambrisha Banks. Banks, another in a long line of talented freshmen to come through Skyline, is a standout sprinter who will be a key contributor on all three relays.
Mitchell said Haynes and Webb “didn’t have good years last season,” but that won’t be the case this time.
“They’re back to the form now that they had as freshmen and sophomores when they competed at the state meet,” Mitchell said. “With them not running at state last year, it opened their eyes and showed them anyone can be replaced at any time if you’re not taking care of your business. They came back to school with the attitude that’s not going to happen again.”
The Lady Raiders’ depth gives them a great chance to join Houston Westbury (1997 to 2000) as the only 5A teams to win four consecutive state team titles.
“Last year we had a lot of freshmen coming in, and we didn’t know who would do what,” Mitchell said. “We had some freshmen who ended up stepping up once we got to district, and now they’re sophomores and they’ve got their experience and know what it takes.”
Other area girls teams to watch
Second at state meet last year and returning talented sprinter Chrishuna Williams (Arkansas)
Hou. Westbury kept second-place Lancaster from adding to its stack of state team titles last year
Tied for third at state last year behind returning state-champions Katie Ruhala and Kensey Berry
Talented junior twins Kristyn and Kaitlyn Williams part of depth for state-title contender
Led by Claire Uke and Stephanie Kalu, a fourth-straight state team title is in reach
Area girls to watch
Texas A&M signee won 5A shot put state title (43 feet, 81/4 inches) and fourth in long jump (18-3)
Won 3A pole vault state title (12 feet)
Baylor signee won 5A state titles in 1,600 (4:53.75) and 3,200 (10:31.53)
Second in 4A 100 hurdles (14.61) and third in 300 hurdles (43.72)
Third in 5A triple jump (38 feet, 111/4 inches) and third in 100 meters (11.74 seconds)
Carr. Newman Smith
Won 4A 400 meters state title (54.34 seconds)
TCU signee won 5A high jump state title (5 feet, 9 inches)
Won 3A state titles in 1,600 (5:04.82) and 3,200 (11:05.10)
Stanford signee led nation last year in 1,600 (4:45.24) and 3,200 (10:07.15)
Won 4A discus state title (144 feet, 8 inches) and second in shot put (44-3)
March 26: Jesuit-Sheaner Relays at Jesuit High School in Dallas
April 8-9: Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin
April 11-14: UIL district meets
April 29-30: Southwest Preparatory Conference Championships meet at Fort Worth All Saints
May 2-3: UIL regional meets
May 6-7: TAPPS state meet at Baylor’s Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex in Waco
May 13-14: UIL state meet at Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin