The Lady Trojans came out strong to start the season at the Larry Clark Invitational in Bainbridge, where they finished third by the smallest of margins against a tough field after the first two meets of the year were canceled due to rain.
“You know each year you’re expected to do better than you did the year before. So if you have kids that have been in [the program] for three to four years, then that expectation rises. Then when the younger kids come in, they see the level of expectations higher and not lower,” CHS girls’ coach Gwen Engram said.
Those top returners come back in the form of Shamika Holland, Alecia North, Jasmine Gamble, Lexus Houston, Ambrielle Alexander, Gabrielle Strickland and Nicole Wilson. That group will be joined by some new faces in freshmen Zavannah Brown, Cami Melson and Malariah Ranson, along with Mackenzie Lee, Crystal Dunson, Victoria Crowder and Crystal Ruiz, who are new to the program. Carrollton is looking to build on its second-place region finish from a year ago.
The building blocks will come when the younger and newer members of the team see the work those veterans put in day-in and day-out on the track.
“It’s a big help for the younger kids, because that way they have somebody to watch that has been there. They will be able to learn better as to how the program operates when you have somebody that’s done it and can lead,” Engram said.
The showing at Bainbridge was a good way to kick off the season. The two teams that finished ahead of the Lady Trojans were a state championship team from Florida and the reigning Class AAA Georgia state champions.
“We added [Bainbridge] after we didn’t get to go to the other two meets. We tried to go south so that way we don’t have to deal with the cold weather, but that’s not working this year in Georgia. It’s cold everywhere. Cold, windy and rainy just about everywhere we go,” Engram said. “Monroe out of Albany got second, they beat us by half a point on the last race. That was good experience for them to realize they can run with teams that were state championship teams. For them to be that close to them this early in the season is a big plus.”
This year the Lady Trojans will make the move to Class AAAA and a similar Region 5, with just some new faces added and Central and Haralson County subtracted. Even with that, the Carrollton coach doesn’t put much stock in regions or classifications. At the end of the day, you have to have the fastest time, the furthest throw or the longest jump to win.
“I don’t see where it’s going to make any difference. We still have to run those same times. We’ve got to run the clock, we’ve got to jump against the tape measure. Classification, to me, I don’t think it really matters. If a kid is capable of jumping 18 feet, then they should jump 18 regardless of what classification they’re in. I just expect the kids to give us what they’re capable of doing and if you do that, you’ll win regardless of the classification you’re in,” Engram said.
Next, Carrollton will make the trip to Lawrenceville for the Tiger Creek Relays, hosted by Archer, on Saturday at 9 a.m.