BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Mainland High School has one of the best local track and field programs.
This past week, the girls team won the district 3A-6 title. It’s their third consecutive district title.
The boys finished as runner-up, ending a run of five straight district titles (2014-2018).
The Buccaneers’ girls are strong in the sprints, relays and jumps while the boys excel in sprints, hurdles and relays.
“We knew that the girls were going to be strong this year. They have met every expectation thus far. On the boys’ side, we graduated a lot of athletes that scored a lot of points for us in meets last year so we are pleased with the runner-up,” said Head Coach Terry Anthony.
Eyes on Regional
Mainland’s girls have won every meet except one this season; they are a threat to win the 3A-2 Regional meet on April 26-27.
Anthony stated, “This is just the girls’ year. We have girls who have posted some of the best times and jumps in the region in several races and events. We’re on track to win the Region for the first time in history.”
Mainland’s boys program has been a regional powerhouse having won three straight regional titles (2016-2018), but defending will be difficult.
Anthony admitted, “On the boy’s side, we just don’t have the depth this year.”
The Bucs’ girls team is led by one of the top sprinters in Florida, sophomore Cydney Wright, who has some of the best 100-meter and 200meter dash times in the state.
The team features a talented group, including senior Shania Wilder (sprints); junior Jordan Elder; (middle distance/ hurdles); senior Camron Wright (sprints); junior Jasmyn Dorsey (jumps/ sprints); junior Elisa Aclipen (jumps); junior Acura Graves (sprints/jumps) and senior Jessica Denton (jumps).
On the boys’ side, the Bucs have senior Lindon Cooper (hurdles/relays); senior Malcolm Reed (middle distance); senior Shawn Daffin (sprints); senior DeAndre McMillian (sprints); senior Arnold Collins (distance) and junior Taron Keith (sprints).
Over in seconds
Track and field is a tough sport, which consists of long hours working out and training for events that can go by in seconds.
Anthony stressed, “The opportunity goes so quick. You train so much to go perform on the big stage in the big moment. Everything that you work for can be gone in such a quick moment.
“You have to finish your drills and workouts. It’s tough to move on. Only the top four advances to the next round. If you don’t finish, someone else gets your spot.’’
‘We work hard’
During his tenure, Anthony has been able to keep Mainland successful.
“We’ve had athletes, but I think the kids buying into the program is a big part of it. We work hard. We have three rules, which are work hard, get better and have fun. All those work together,’’ Anthony explained.
“If you work hard, you get better. You get better, you start to win. I also have a tremendous coaching staff, which is the backbone of what we do.’’
Anthony’s coaching staff includes Vernon Calloway, A.J. Mallory, Lakeisha Elder and Lana Anthony.
Road to state title
With Regionals up next, the student-athletes are fighting for a spot to compete in the state championships May 3-4.
Mainland has had individual state champions in track and field. They are yet to hoist a team title.
Winning a state title in track and field is difficult.
Anthony explained, “Winning a state title is a very difficult thing. We are getting close to that point. You must have a complete team and depth in all areas, including sprinters, middle distance, distance, relays, jumps and throws.
“It all comes down to numbers and your athletes peaking at the right time. You need an all-around team. We’ve only been good in sprints and jumps but now we’re getting more rounded.”
Regardless of the outcome, Anthony wants the athletes to succeed not only in track but in life.
He told the Daytona Times, “I love these kids. I love when the kids take advantage of opportunities to get better and make something themselves. In our program, we have a lot of non-track athletes but they are involved in something that motivates them, keeps them out of trouble and gives them something to look forward to.
“It also helps their self-esteem. I live by the motto that success isn’t determined by the number of games won, but by the lives changed in the process.”