By Tony Burns
El Dorado will host the annual Oil Belt Relays on Thursday at Memorial Stadium. Coach Mike Sprawls believes he has a talented boys team to represent the Wildcats. On the girls side, junior Breya Clark is already established as one of the top athletes in the state of Arkansas.
"I really like this team. They work as hard as any group I've ever had," said Sprawls. "The one thing we really can't do anything about is we're extremely young. We've got two seniors. Other than that, we're sophomores and juniors. We've got 28 guys out and 26 are underclassmen. But, It's a group that's a lot of fun to coach."
The Wildcats are coming off the Airline Viking Relays in Bossier City last week. Sophomore Devunte Kidd won the long jump and Chris Newton finished second in the triple jump in a highly competitive field.
"Devunte Kidd is a special kid. Shun (Levingston) is one of the better hurdlers in South Arkansas in the (110-meters)," said Sprawls, who expects a solid field in town this week.
"Right now, we've got 15 schools signed up for Oil Belt," he said. "Haynesville is coming over. They've got one of the better sprinters in North Louisiana. He's a 100-200 kid. Haynesville has two throwers that are over 50 foot in the shot putt and 140 foot in the discus. Texarkana is going to be coming. They have two of the best hurdlers in the state of Arkansas. The usual crew of Magnolia and Camden (Fairview) are coming. They have extremely solid programs. You include us in that mix and I think it's going to be an extremely competitive track meet on the boys side."
The Lady Wildcats finished fifth in Bossier City last week. Clark won the 100 hurdles, high jump and triple jump and was second in the long jump.
"We've got some quality. We need more quantity. But, the good ones are good," said El Dorado coach John Koonce. "Obviously, Breya is about as good as they come. There are a lot of other good pieces that go along with her. Track has become a game of, you need a bunch of 'em. We're a small team. We have 14 girls, which, today is a pretty small team.
"I really like the kids that are out there. They come to work hard every day. You can tell that they want to improve. I love the kids that are out here. We just need a few more of them."
Like the boys, he said the girls field will be solid.
"You've got Texarkana and Magnolia coming. Those are two teams that are always good," said Koonce. "Texarkana is always contending for 6A. Magnolia is always contending for 5A. So, it's going to be a very solid meet."
Behind Clark, the Lady Wildcats did surprisingly well last week, which was the first time they competed in field events.
"It was a stacked meet but I was pleased. We're going to be able to compete with most of the teams out there," said Koonce.
Even though Clark won three of her four events, the coach said she could've easily claimed victory in the long jump as well.
"She really should've won that. She got beat by four inches. It was a really wide board and she robbed herself of about a foot on that board. It was the first meet she was able to jump and she's already in mid-season form," said Koonce, who expects her to be challenged on Thursday.
"Magnolia has got a couple good triple-jumpers ... really good ones. I'm not sure what Texarkana has. She beat a girl in the 100 hurdles that was really good.
"I know the kids are very excited. We've got a bunch of good kids that love to get out there and compete. To be able to compete in front of your home town - we hope a lot of people come out to watch these kids because they work very hard. I think you're going to see a lot of good results out there on Thursday."