El Dorado showed its depth last week when the Lady Wildcats claimed the championship at the 5A South Track & Field Meet. That depth will be tested even more on Thursday when they travel to Hot Springs for the 5A State championships.
Field events are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
El Dorado coach John Koonce believes his team will be in the hunt.
“We have more athletes in entries than we’ve had in the four years since I’ve been here. Anytime you have as many entries as we have, you have a chance to take it all,” he said. “It’s a matter of the girls being locked in and understanding that everyone has an opportunity to bring home the total team goal.
“Your favorites are going to be Jonesboro, Vilonia and Benton. And then after that, there’s about six or seven of us that can all make a run at them. It’s a very balanced year. There’s a lot of good teams this year.”
The Lady Wildcats have been among those good teams this season, winning several meets along the way. But they won’t be at full power Thursday. Top sprinter Carshaila Rozier sustained an injury last week and did not qualify in the 100 or 200.
“We are a little behind the eight-ball because we don’t have her entry in the 100 and 200. It’s an uphill battle for us,” said Koonce. “We’re the underdog but we were the underdog in conference and girls stepped up. This is an opportunity for girls to step up again.
“(Rozier) was able to come out there (Monday). She looked strong. We’re trying to find a way to balance events with her. The trainer gave her the hundred percent go ahead.”
El Dorado qualified girls in every event except pole vault, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200 and the 4x800 relay.
The distance events could leave a devastating hole in the Lady Wildcats’ hopes.
“Going into the conference meet, we were projected to be down 20 points coming out of field events. We were up 20 because LaStasha Holmes (discus) had the throw of her life,” said Koonce. “The same goes for Kamya Bryant (shot). The same goes for Breyonna Steward in the triple jump. Same goes for London Ingram in the long jump. We had girls step up. If those same girls step up and find another level and we have other kids, you name a Justice Larry, D’Aja Dade stepped up in the sprints, if they’re able to up their game another week, that’s where you have a chance.”
Koonce emphasized the underdog role for the Lady Wildcats. They seemed to like that role last week, but the state meet will have a taller mountain to climb.
“They upped their game last week. We’re peaking at the right time. The challenge is for them to up their game again,” he said. “I’m excited. It’s been a good year. We’re looking to finish strong on Thursday.”