BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Once again, the Mainland Buccaneers have one of the area’s best track and field programs.
The boys team has won three straight district titles (3A-6) and the girls also won the district title last season.
“We’re equally talented on both sides. The boys are looking to four-peat as district champion while the girls should have a chance to repeat,” said Head Coach Terry Anthony.
The boys also won Regionals (3A-2) last year after being runner-up the year before.
On the girls’ side, the Buccaneers are strong with sprinters and middle distance runners. They want also want to contend for regionals and state.
“We’re looking to hold on to district. We want to go back-to-back. We’ve got our work cut out for us. but the girls are working hard. They are still getting acclimated to the spotlight. I think we’ll be fine. I still think we can get five to six girls to the state championships,” noted Anthony.
The boys are once again loaded with sprinters and jumpers. They are a regional power but also want to make a run at a state title.
“The boys are seasoned and tested with a lot of experience. If our middle distance and distance runners can do well at districts and regionals, then they’ll get to the state meet, which will give us a chance at state. Last year, we took five kids to state and finished fifth. We’re looking to get possibly 11 kids to state this year,’’ Anthony explained.
Anthony credits his program’s success over the years to coaching, talent and hard work.
He expressed, “I think that we have a good coaching staff that works with our kids in Vernon Conaway, A.J. Mallory, Lakeisha Elder, Lana Anthony and Harrington Smith.
“We’ve been consistent and able to work the kids hard. Our motto is to work hard and to have fun! That leads to success.
“We also have some football players, which have been our boys team’s best athletes. The football program has excellent strength and conditions. We also have multi-sport athletes. We want our kids to be year-around athletes playing multiple sports like football, basketball, track, baseball and weightlifting. On the girls’ side, many of them are basketball players.”
Lots of training
Track itself isn’t an easy sport; speed alone doesn’t ensure success.
“There are a lot of fast guys who aren’t successful in track. They just run and don’t get their technique,” Anthony related.
“They come out the blocks wrong or funny. We do a lot of training. Our training allows our kids to progress and get better over the year. It allows us to peak around the postseason instead of the beginning of the year.”
Versatile girls squad
On the girls’ team, Mainland is led by freshman sprinter Cydney Wright, who posted the fastest times in the area for the 100- and 200- meter dashes so far.
There’s also junior Shaniya Wilder (sprinter); senior LeaAnn Kent (middle distance); sophomore, Jordan Elder (middle distance); junior, Camron Wright (sprinter); sophomore, Acura Graves (sprinter); senior, Dna’jaha Smith (sprinter); sophomore, Grace Hawryluk (middle distance); sophomore, Jourdon Cooper (hurdles/jumps) and senior Jessica Denton (hurdles/jumps).
“Our girls squad is young but versatile. Many can run multiple races and place in the top eight in each,” stated Anthony.
The boys are star-studded, beginning with senior DeMarcus Adams, who is a top long jumper. He’s also a force in the 400-meter dash, 110 hurdles and 4×400 relay.
Senior Latavies Sylvester (sprinter/jumps) is another star. He is a force in the 100 and 400 meter dashes and another top long jumper.
They also have seniors Steffan Mallory (jumps/sprinter), who is a top triple jumper, Brian Jenkins (sprinter); Michael Bussey (sprinter), Tank Dell (sprinter/jumps) and Elijah White (sprinter/jumps) along with junior, Lindon Cooper (hurdles).
Anthony noted, “We have a lot of kids that are multi-talented and doing multiple events.”
To put the boys’ team’s talent in perspective, it recently competed at the Florida State University relays with only six athletes.
Adams won the long jump, ironically at the school where he will play football on a college scholarship.
The Bucs were without top sprinter Sylvester.
They replaced him with Malcolm Reed, who runs the 800 for the 200 portion of the sprint medley relay (100, 200, 400m dashes) race and ended up breaking a record.
“That just shows the type of kids that we have and what can happen when they go out and work hard and compete,” Terry added.