Highland Track and Field Team Achieves Success – Pt2

In Part 2 of this story, Highland Track and Field coach Colby Jackson talks about his team’s journey to state competition.

“Well, it’s pretty funny because we started the year out, we went to Richwood in West Virginia, and I had basically half the team I have now were there. We had some injuries, every one of them were in basketball shoes, not one hand track shoes on. We had a kid who actually had to pull out and we put a shotput thrower. Evan Kimble in as the second leg – he’s a freshman, scared to death –  he’s over there drinking a Mountain Dew and I was like ‘Evan, I need you in’, and he thought I was kidding with him. But he actually did really well, but we dropped the stick., so we got disqualified. That was our first race and I didn’t know what to expect.”

”So then we go back to that meet, we placed 4th, which is pretty good because those were Double A schools were the only Single A school besides Richwood. And I thought, well, we’re probably onto something here, we can improve this. And in my mind, at the time, I didn’t know exactly what it could be. We’re still in basketball shoes. I knew we could be faster if we got the right gear.”

“And so we continue to work on it and they continue to improve and we go to Giles three weeks in a row. And the first meet, Giles is extremely competitive in track and field. So we run the Four x 100, everybody’s in track and field shoes, everybody’s finally kind of getting comfortable with handoffs, we’ve run this now about five times, six times in live action – and we beat them. And I think that’s when everything started to click for these guys that they were really on to something.”

The team’s hard work, training, dedication and commitment pays off in the regional meet, where, against tough competition and odds…

We come out of that, and we’re second – going to state on the second seed, and that was huge for the kids. I was ecstatic for that, I mean, that was something – when you’re worried about making it to state and then you come in as the runner up – it was really cool.”

“Then we go to state and we go out there, we run against six other teams. And Colton gets the last hand off from Eli, Eli has our third leg, he hands of to Colton, and Colton finishes out as our anchor leg. He steps on his foot and tears half of his shoe off – his shoe’s got a hole in it, foot’s bleeding, and we lose to Riverheads by toenail. But honestly, without the shoe situation, we’re fifth in the state. We stumbled basically right there at the end, but we placed, end up placing sixth in the state out of 16 teams.”

“I mean, it just was a testament – the kids, they were all very focused. This was something that they were taking major pride in – they went from saying, ‘Oh we got to go against Narrows’ or ‘Oh, we got to go against East Montgomery’ to saying ‘I think we can beat Northumberland’, who ran a 43 second 400. I was like all right, let’s wait, maybe next year. – let’s hold off on that.”

He also had high praise for one of his solo runners.

“Jazmine Douglas is our freshman, and she ran the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash, and long jump. This is a kid, when I started out the season, I immediately recognized that she had, just, raw natural talent – extremely fast. She is extremely dedicated, extremely driven. She was number one every meet we went to until districts. She never lost a 100 meter dash one time throughout the season. She got third in districts and then fourth at region, which qualified her for state. And she went to stay and ran fantastic – she had a stomach bug the day before, was sick as she could be, and still, she placed 12th,  was her final ranking.”

“You know I can’t say enough about her. Her mindset, she went from just wanting to participate really, to be in shape for basketball, was her goal for coming to track. And I have honestly no doubt in my mind that if she continues to run and have the drive that she’s shown this year, she’ll win a state championship.”

He summed up the success of the season.

“Watching that confidence change, for me was more important than winning, just watching them have that change in confidence because that’s something that they’ll take throughout life. For me the confidence of playing sports, and doing well, and getting some attention for being successful – that helped me more than the sport itself ever did.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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