HYDE PARK – In early April, when many Tristate schools were battling cooler temperatures and wet weather, Withrow High School’s track team did what many northerners do in the spring.
They went to Florida.
That’s the University of Florida in Gainesville, home of the Florida Relays April 3-4.
“It was a great experience for the girls,” Braddix said. “The state of Florida is ahead of Ohio because they’ve had several meets. It was an opportunity for us to go down there and face competition that we won’t face up here.”
Braddix is the Withrow athletic director and coach of the girls track team. Brock Rutledge heads up the boys program.
Both teams made the trip south where it was sunny and 85 on some days. Withrow also travels to Louisville April 26 for the Eastern Relays, Dayton May 1-2 for the Don Mitchell Roosevelt Memorial and after the Ohio state meet ends, a group will go to the New Balance Outdoor Nationals June 19-21 at North Carolina A&T.
“It’s all about exposure for the kids to get them seen,” Braddix said.
Braddix has seen several Lady Tigers make the college ranks and may have more coming. In the recent Coaches Classic meet at Winton Woods April 10, sophomore Destiny Pennington won the 100 and 200 meters and senior Ayanna O’Neal took the 100 and 300 hurdles, breaking a record set by former Princeton and current Stanford runner Claudia Saunders.
Withrow also took the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relays and sophomore Doneasha Brewer won the long jump.
“She’s never done track before and she long jumped 18’ 3”,” Braddix said.
The Lady Tigers, despite not scoring in the distance races and in some field events, finished second at the Coaches Classic to Mason.
“We were very young last year, so we’ve gotten stronger and gotten better,” Braddix said. “We got some additions from our basketball team that have helped us tremendously. We’re putting all of that in one pot and it’s mixing well right now.”
Formerly champions of the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference, Withrow now participates in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference where they hope to nudge a neighboring school for the title.
“Walnut Hills has won this thing three or four years in a row,” Braddix said. “We have a mountain to climb to claim the title from them.”
The Withrow boys team was eighth in the Coaches Classic, but has run some fast times.
Senior Kymari Gates was third in the 100, but won the 200 over DeVohn Jackson of Northwest. Junior Rashaun O’Neal was sixth in the 100. Junior Jamario Scott was eighth in the 800 and junior Devonte Martin took seventh in the 300 hurdles. Withrow’s 4×400 relay finished a close second to Mason.
“We’re looking to definitely win the league,” Rutledge said. “Right now we’re looking to get our 4×800 team right and get our mile (1,600) right. I think in the 400 down it will take care of itself.”
Rutledge is working to find a long jumper from the basketball team and some more field event personnel to enhance their scoring.