El Dorado won’t take a busload of boys to Hot Springs for the 5A State Track & Field Championships on Thursday. Coach DeAnthony Curtis will be stressing quality over quantity as the Wildcats take their shot at the state’s elite.
“I’ve been looking on MileSplit and all that good stuff and virtually, they’ve got us finishing fourth. But you have to line up and run that race,” Curtis said. “It all depends on how we come out and compete. We can say we’ve got the fastest time here and the fastest time there but in order to win, we’ve got to go out there and compete. That’s the only thing I’ve been talking about all year. That’s the only thing I will continue to talk about.”
The Wildcats won’t have athletes in several events, including the 1,600 and 3,200, high jump, triple jump and pole vault. So, all 12 El Dorado athletes will have to produce in their events.
Sophomore DeAndra Burns Jr., will run in the 100, 200, 400 and on the 4x200 relay and also compete in the long jump.
El Dorado’s 4x100 will be Quez Waller, PJ Denkins, Jackie Washington and Sharmon Rester. Burns will join Waller, Denkins and Washington on the 4x200.
“You can only run in four running events,” said Curtis. “DeAndra is running the 100, 200, 400. I chose to use him in the 4x200. I think as a team, we have a chance of winning without him on the 4x100, so he’ll be on the 4x200.”
With preliminaries and finals, four running events along with the long jump could be a lot to ask.
“If he’s taking care of his body, it’s something he can handle,” said Curtis. “Making sure he’s drinking water and doesn’t get dehydrated I think he can handle that load.”
The Wildcats will be in the hunt in all of Burns’ events and both relays. Curtis said getting points from other sources, including Denkins in the hurdles and Jadon Cunningham in the 800 will be important.
Burns didn’t run the 100 in the conference, instead running the 4x100 in place of Rester, who was nursing a hamstring. Rester’s health will be key.
“He says he’s good, but I think he’s still dealing with his hamstring,” said Curtis, who was asked if a Wildcats’ victory was realistic or perhaps a tad ambitious.
“I think it’s being a little ambitious. Texarkana is too good. They’re too deep. They have more guys in there than we do. For instance, in conference, they went 1-2-3 in the 100 and 1-2-3 in the hurdles. Can we have somebody help us break that up? That’s the whole thing, can some other people break up Texarkana so they’re not going 1-2-3.”
Curtis said he believes El Dorado can score in every event in which it competes. Comparing times and results can be sketchy. The great thing about track and field is, it’s head-to-head competition.
“Stuff on the paper might say one thing but at the end of the day, you have to line up and throw. You have to line up and run,” said Curtis. “They’re performing well. I just want them to go out and compete.”