Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> JHS track returns pair of conference champs

JHS seniors Amber Lockhart, from left, Dyshaii Doyne and Tatianna Lacy lead this year’s Lady Red Devil track team.
Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville track teams’ numbers are up in boys’ and girls’ competition, with a pair of conference champions returning for the girls and a recent college signee back for the boys’ squad.

Lady Red Devil senior Tatianna Lacy is back to defend her 5A-Central 100-meter dash championship she won a year ago, as is classmate Amber Lockhart, who won the conference 110 hurdles championship a season ago.

Lacy’s goal this season is to defend the 100 championship, and add the 200, which she finished second in a year ago.

“The ultimate goal is to perform well enough to get a college scholarship,” said Lacy. “I think winning two championships will help with that. So I’m focused on really improving and making that happen.”

While Lacy has been running track since a very young age, Lockhart burst onto the scene last season after being a non-factor and non-scorer in most meets as a sophomore. She put more work into offseason her junior year, and when she saw the results in her first meet early last season she knew something was different.

“It was the first meet last year, I think it was at Bryant, when I won the race,” said Lockhart. “I kind of surprised myself. But ever since then I’ve been pretty focused. I think I can do even better this year.”

Girls’ track coach Crystal Scott, who took over the program when Lacy and Lockhart were sophomores, said focus was all that was missing for Lockhart the whole time.

“Her sophomore year, we fought,” said Scott. “Oh my we fought. They weren’t used to me and how I do things, and it wasn’t what you’d call a smooth transition, to be honest with you. But those two, and Dyshaii Doyne have stuck with me these three years, and I think all three will have their best seasons. They’ve put in the work.”

Malcolm Nelson returns for the boys’ squad just weeks after signing to run track for William Penn University in Iowa. His specialty is the 800m, and he’ll anchor the two-mile relay team. Fonzell Jones is also a good distance runner who ran cross-country in the fall.

“Nelson’s the kind of kid you love having out,” said boys’ track coach Jim Stanley. “He’s here every day and he’s such a hard worker.”

Jaylon Tucker placed in conference in the sprints last year and will be joined by another speedster from the football team, Quinlan Britt.

“Those two have a chance to have some success, but mostly I have a bunch of middle distance and distance runners,” Stanley said.

The boys’ and girls’ teams each have 12 participating, which isn’t a lot relative to some other schools, but more than JHS has had out for track in a few years.

“It’s the most I’ve ever had,” Scott said of her three years at the helm. “We’re building it up slowly. But the kids are getting used to the demands and the work ethic is improving.”

Stanley had dozens sign up for his team, but only one dozen remained after a few practices.

“I started with 75,” Stanley said. “That’s how many registered. But I’m happy with the 12 that are left. Those are the ones who show up every day and go to work.”