Parkers Chapel track coach Steven Bates called this year’s senior girls’ team, “the perfect storm.” The Lady Trojans hope that storm levels the competition on Wednesday when they travel to Gurdon to compete in the 2A State Track & Field Championships.
Field events start at 10:30 a.m. Running finals are scheduled for 5 p.m.
Parkers Chapel won the district track meet by nearly 70 points. Senior Ali Looney won the 1,600 and 3,200. Freshman Kallie Martin earned high point honors, winning the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump.
“This is kind of the perfect storm of seniors and freshmen and having a blend of sophomores and juniors in between them,” said Bates. “This is that meet we’ve been pointing to for a couple of years. This is a tremendous opportunity for those girls to go out there and show everybody what they’ve got.
“I feel like we’ve got a legitimate chance at it. That’s really all you can ask for.”
The Lady Trojans will have strength in numbers, qualifying all four relays and sending district champions in senior Drue Thomas (discus) and freshmen Bella Frisby (800) and Reaux McAuliffe (pole vault).
Parkers Chapel qualified at least one girl in every event except high jump, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
“Getting Drue and Bella both in the 400, I thought was big. They both run a time that could get us some points. I look at that as possible bonus points for us,” said Bates. “With Franzi (Kahlert) and Ali both in the 3,200, they’re both, potentially top three in that race so that’s a chance to score a lot of points in one event. And Bella and Ali in the 800. Anytime you can get two in, you’ve got a chance to make a move on the field.”
The pace will definitely pick up as far as competition. Mansfield has been a traditional girls’ track contender and LISA Academy boasts two of the state’s top sprinters and one of the top distance runners.
“I feel like for us to win it, we’ve got to win at least a couple of things. There’s going to be some girls there like the LISA Academy girls and the Mansfield girls in the hurdles. They’re going to win those, so we’ve got to offset some of their 10 point events. I feel like we need to win at least one or two events and be solid in everything else,” said Bates.
“At state track meets, there are so many different scenarios that can play out. I’m going to tell them, let’s go out and have fun and give our best effort in every event and let it fall where it’s going to fall. If we have our best day, I think we can win it. But if we go out there tight and worried about it, I don’t think we will. I want them to be loose, go out there and have fun and enjoy the day. Physically, that’s when they perform at their best and if they do that, I think we’ve got a chance.”
With competitors from all over the state, the Lady Trojans will see new faces in each event. Bates said it’s important for his athletes to focus on their own lanes.
Looney was 2A State runner-up in cross country and could face LISA Academy’s Anna Cantrell in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
“We control what we can control. We can control our preparation and our effort,” said Bates. “Ali, being a senior especially, she’s really good at understanding pace in her races and knowing where she’s got to be from a time standpoint. She’s one that doesn’t get rattled. Nothing is going to bother her a whole lot. I think she’s going to go out there and perform the best she ever has.
“My young girls are such fiery competitors they rise to the competition. I think if they get in a lane next to somebody who is supposed to be faster than them, it’s just going to make them faster, too.”
PC’s all-freshman crew of Frisby, Martin, McAuliffe and Makenzie Morgan lost just twice this season to 5A El Dorado and 4A Magnolia.
“They tend to run fast as they need to win it,” said Bates. “If they need to run a 1:44 to win it, I think they’ll run a 1:44. I just love watching them compete in that race. They give it everything they’ve got.”
Parkers Chapel’s boys will include five runners and a pole vaulter. Lancer Clark will compete in the 100 and 200 with Trace Shoup in the long jump and Peyton Willeford in the pole vault.
“Our boys 4x100 has gotten consistently better all year,” said Bates. “They go out there and win district, so we feel like we’ve got a shot at that 4x100.”
The meet will be the last for Bates, who will move into administration next year. He’s been looking forward to this day for a while. Now that’s it’s finally here?
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “On one hand I’m excited to start my new job. On the other hand, I know I’m leaving a loaded group of girls and boys for next year. It’s kind of bittersweet but it’s time. I’m going to try and enjoy every minute of it. Win or lose, we’re going to have fun and I’m going to savor every moment.”
As for the Lady Trojans, they won a 2A State tennis title in the fall, advanced to the state tournament in basketball and will open play in the regional softball tournament on Thursday.
“The stage isn’t going to scare them. It’s not going to intimidate them,” Bates said. “They know what it’s like to compete for championships. This is just another chance for them to go out there and do that. One thing I’m not worried about, I’m not worried about them being ready on Wednesday. They’re going to be ready. It’s just a matter if we have enough points available to go out there and win it.”
Tickets can only be purchased online. A link has been posted on the Trojans athletic page on FACEBOOK.