Gade Abrams said he’s optimistic about the Whiteoak High School track team’s chances this season – what they lack in size, they make up for in intensity and team unity.
“We want to win our league, and we have to the numbers and athleticism to do that,” Abrams told The Times-Gazette. “We have goals to send at least four or five people to state, and we have the talent and the depth to do that as well. Everything’s looking pretty good this year.”
Senior Derrick Ison returns to sprint events this season after setting school records in the 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter dashes last year. Abrams said Ison will mostly focus on the 100, 200 and 400 this time around.
In girls sprint events, senior Taylor Tackett, also a school record setter, will return to the 200- and 400-meter dash.
“It’s good to have seniors back, so we’re looking for them to do some great things this year,” Abrams said.
“In our distance department, we have three top-notch distance runners,” he said.
Sophomores Hunter Morgan, Atlee Carr and Zach DeAtley have all had some big steps in the cross country season, and show promise for distance events this spring.
In boys field events, junior Shane Elliott will return to high jump while several newcomers will try their hand at throwing.
“Shane’s been doing that all three years of high school, so we’re hoping to get him to state as well,” Abrams said. “He’s showing some real promise as a junior, and he’s a leader, so we obviously welcome that.”
Seniors Rylee Ruble and Caithlyn Woolums will throw for the girls team, while newcomer freshman Kensley Bailey will try the long jump.
“She’s super athletic, so we’re looking for big things from her this year,” Abrams said. Bailey will also compete in sprint events.
“As a team, our best attribute, to me, is our intensity,” Abrams said. “They’re just focused, they’re locked in, they’re ready to work when they come to practice – and they get along. We’re really proud of that. There’s strength in that unity. They’re very supportive of each other.”
Abrams said he hopes his team will come to realize their full potential this season.
“Overall, I want them to blow their own minds,” he said. “I think they can all do far better in every event than they even think they can. The work ethic is there, the talent is there. I think as the season progresses, we’ll see running times decrease and we’ll see longer jumps and higher jumps, and better throws.
“I think it’ll be a great year,” he said. “We’re hoping to see the program excel from here on out.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.