LaFayette prospers with improvised-practice conditions to prepare for state meet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 2, 2019

LaFAYETTE — The LaFayette High School track and field team has established one of the more consistent programs in 2A over recent years.

This year, the team is sending 29 athletes to Cullman this weekend at the state championship meet after the boys team won sectionals and the girls team finished second.

The girls won the state title in 2016 and finished third last season. Senior Kendra James led the Bulldogs last season with a first-place finish in the high jump, a second-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles and a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles. The boys team won last year’s state championship in the 4×100 meter relay in addition to four other top 10 finishes the state meet in 2018.

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There’s a slight difference in how LaFayette and other schools prepare for meets, however.

“To not have a track, we do pretty well,” LaFayette senior Daylan Wright said. “[I think] it does help us because we’re used to running on concrete, running on the road or wherever. I feel like it doesn’t matter what you run on or where you’re running at if you’re a track team. You’re a track team. If you’re going to work hard, you’re going to work hard regardless.”

Wright that the main similarity that she sees in the  2016 state championship team and this year’s group is the work ethic from the seniors all the way down to the seventh-graders.

LaFayette sprinters line up on a side across the street from the school’s gym and block the road with runners as head track and field coach Corey Thornton blows his whistle signaling for the next group to take off. In an open area next to the road of sprinters are sophomore Nadya Heard and Feliah Greer, who are taking turns throwing discus. Thornton took a brief intermission from watching the sprinters to give Heard a few tips to help her get off cleaner throws. In the grass area across the street are senior Trevor Vines, sophomore Julius Bullard and freshman Antavious Woody, who are all getting up shot put heaves.

This year’s boys team is projected to finish top three overall at the state championship, according to LaFayette head track and field coach Corey Thornton.

The head coach also expects his girls team to finish in the top 5 for every event this year as well.

“If some things happen, they can probably finish better than that,” Thornton said. “We’re looking forward to having a pretty good weekend for the boys and the girls.”

The Bulldogs improved both on the track and in the field throughout this season. After seeing a large turnaround from last season’s championship-winning 4×100 unit leave, Thornton said that he’s been most surprised by how this year’s group hasn’t lost a step.

“We’ve actually improved in a lot of areas,” Thornton said. “A lot of young kids, but they’re stepping up to the plate.”

Thornton later specifically highlighted two seventh-grade girls, A’Shayla James and Toniya Collier, on this season’s roster. Collier is ranked fourth in the 100-meter dash by running a 12.4, and James is ranked third in the 300-meter hurdles and the 400-meter relay.

Sophomore, who began running on the team in seventh-grade as well, Alahbra’J Todd is ranked second in the long jump.

“All I’m thinking is ‘win,’” Todd said. “I just want to win. It’s been a long time coming, 2016 was a long time ago. I need another rock.”