One more week until district track meets.
One more shot for coaches, runners and field athletes to prepare.
Fifteen teams, including Airline, Benton, Bossier, Parkway, Haughton, Lakeside, Natchitoches Central and Northwood, will compete today in the Haughton Invitational. On Friday, Byrd, Booker T. Washington, Captain Shreve, Evangel, Fair Park’s girls team, Green Oaks, Loyola, Huntington, North Caddo and North DeSoto and others will battle in BTW’s Wesley/Payne Relays at Lee Hedges Stadium.
For teams at both meets, this week is a springboard to district.
“This is going to set the tone for district,” BTW coach Leon Moore said. “Around this time of the year is when we expect everyone to be peaking and running at their full potential. This is like that showcase, not just for the public, but for the athletes themselves to know they are ready.”
Ruston, Doyline Plain Dealing, Haynesville and North Webster, will also compete in Haughton today, and a total of 522 athletes are expected.
“It’s a little overwhellming when you are putting it on, but it’s a neat deal,” Haughton coach Jason Brotherton said. “It’s always been a big meet. With it being the last meet before district, a lot of people are looking for a good meet to get ready. It’s become a draw.”
Coaches have varied approaches to the final week before the district meets — some choosing to rest runners and others running a practice district lineup. Brotherton is just hoping for some good weather.
Last week, many Bossier Parish schools were rained out. The week before, most teams were off for spring break.
“Normally we might try to rest some people, but we haven’t run in two weeks,” said Brotherton, whose Haughton team will host the District 1-5A meet next Thursday. “The rain should be out of here by 10 or 11 (this morning). Unless it’s pouring down at 3 o’clock, we’re a full go. Weather has been tough. It’s been abnormally cold, which is bad for sprinters. It’s been tough for everybody.”
Moore is hoping to see a competitive meet that sets his team up for a solid showing in the District 1-2A meet next week.
“I expect everyone to compete at a high level,” Moore said. “It’s going to be intense. Everyone wants to see how they stack up in the city, as well as where they are going to district.
“When everyone is putting in two people for each event, a lot of kids will be fighting to keep a spot. They don’t want to be told before district that their season is over. I think our kids are going to rise to the occasion. I will have some jumpers and sprinters bringing their A games.”
In Haughton, a large field means tight competition.
“We’re trying to get our racing legs back,” Brotherton said. “In the relays, we will be looking at the timing. It’s one last chance to look at that live, where you’re actually running against other teams. By now, with a few exceptions, we have all of our people set. It’s just one more chance for a tune up.”